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Letter to the Editor: Resident Receives an Anonymous Letter About Lawn Sign

Black Lives Matter sign copyThis Black Lives Matter sign is posted on the writer's front lawn.Dear Scarsdale Community: My name is Erica Schneider, a graduate from the class of ‘05. My wife and I have been staying with my parents since the start of COVID-19 and will be here until it’s safe to travel again.

This is an open letter to the person who sent us an anonymous letter in the mail regarding our Black Lives Matter sign on our front yard.

The letter said:

“Dear Neighbor,

Google David J Harris Jr. from June 8 at 7:45am. This African-American man makes a good point.

Your fellow neighbor.”

Here are my feelings on your message.

1. The video you direct me to is about how there are several Black people buying guns to protect themselves from protestors. The man states that Black Lives Matter is largely made up of ANTIFA members, that the movement is anti-government, anti-community safety and anti-America.

You assume that defunding the police means no more police officers. That is not the case. Defunding the police means reallocating funds to build up more social programs. In my opinion, we don’t need an armed officer responding to somebody who is sleeping in their car at a Wendy’s drive-through. The movement is calling for an open-minded approach to restructuring a broken system.

2. The video makes sweeping generalizations about a massive international movement. Black Lives Matter, at its core, is about achieving racial equity. Whether that is through defunding the police, restructuring how we fund educational institutions, building more affordable housing in towns like Scarsdale, or a myriad of other efforts.Anonymous Letter copyThe anonymous letter received in her mailbox.

I believe the system is broken, racism is ripe (whether conscious or subconscious) and we as a country have never gotten it right. I am hopeful this movement will continue to inspire monumental and sweeping change. I decry your suggestion that the movement is not justified.

3. You, the anonymous letter sender, make sure to point out that the man in the video is a Black person. May I note that simply because one (or several) Black people say that they don’t believe systemic racism exists, I prefer to listen to the millions of Black people pleading for help. I also listen to my friends and their personal experiences. Your one Black person’s opinion is not going to change that.

4. You assume I am open to listening to a conspiracy theorist. Regardless of party alignment, I prefer to get my information from news sources.

5. The person in the video is angry. His rhetoric is defensive and aggressive. His posts are divisive, promote fear and revel at the misfortune of others. It’s quite sad to skim his page, actually. This is the exact opposite of what our country needs right now. We need to come together and listen to those who are begging for help, not dismiss their cries as irritating misgivings.

We wholeheartedly support the Black Lives Matter movement, hence the sign. I am a privileged white person who grew up in one of the wealthiest towns in this country. I disproportionately benefitted from this upbringing. Systemic racism is real; just look around.

We will not be taking the sign down. In fact, in telling this story to our nearby friends, we’ve inspired them to put up signs too.

This movement is a wakeup call for everybody who lives in communities like ours. The wealth and power here must be used to drive actual change. It is my hope that the leaders and residents in this community use their privilege to help further, not dismiss, this movement.

To the greater Scarsdale community, I hope this inspires you to put up your own Black Lives Matter sign. It is not enough to assume that your neighbors believe that a) racism exists and b) Black Lives Matter. Racists live among us and feel emboldened to send anonymous letters urging us to back down. We must do the opposite.

Please join me in publicly displaying a Black Lives Matter sign.

I know that the majority of people that live here are good, hard-working people with big hearts. Ask yourself: does the outside world know this? Do the Black people that live in this community truly know that their neighbors support the movement? Do the people that drive through our community who don’t live here know how we feel?

It would bring me great joy to drive through our community and see Black Lives Matter signs on more lawns. We spoke to the police regarding your letter and they understand that the sign is not an attack against the police and are in no way adverse to us displaying it.

Let’s send a unified message that we stand with the Black community and we stand with Black Lives Matter.

Thank you,

Erica Schneider

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