Yes, it was a few months ago, but it brought some sunshine into the Editor-in-Chief’s day!
Dear West Country Voices,
I don’t know whether this is the sort of thing you’d be interested in, but having visited your beautiful part of the country in the summer and in light of all the debate prompted by the racist abuse of England football squad members back then, I just wanted to send you my photo. It’s of what I thought then and now to be a most sublime and surreal sight in surely one of the most isolated towns in the westernmost part of England.
On the sunny afternoon of Wednesday 30 June, a white, middle-aged lady, stood bold and – from what I could tell – alone on the pavement in the middle of St. Just’s Market Square, dressed in fitness casuals, sporting a cyan aerobics-type headband and sunglasses, complete with coffee-cup in hand and calmly holding aloft in front of her chest a large white placard that read:
“White Silence is Violence. Black…Lives…Matter”.
I had to do a double-take as my interest was awoken. I stuck my right arm out of the right side of the open top bus as far as I could, and – like Alanis Morissette’s infamous “peace sign” – waved a thumb, gesturing madly to get her attention.
She was so brave and courageous, standing alone amongst those whom, in truth, I imagined would not have been the most supportive audience, be they local or visitor. She was clearly compassionate, wise, and emotionally intelligent and eventually saw my hand and raised the sign high with a jiggle of acknowledgement.
As a man of colour from Surrey, sadly I myself had just that morning, in Penzance, been subject to the customary ‘microaggression’, this time from a vendor of a particular generation. It had brought certain realities crashing home for me, even in lovely Cornwall. Like many Brits of colour, I had felt under an elevated state of attack since the election of a government dedicated to setting the White majority against us to cement its new voter base.
No wonder the sight of her one-woman protest felt so heartwarming.
I didn’t care about the other passengers; I was going to support her with equal bravery, and when the bus turned in front of her, I stood up, threw my hands in the air and clapped so she could see me.
And she did! She pumped the placard vigorously in the air to acknowledge me again. She certainly helped restore some faith in my fellow Brits, after being a little winded by the earlier encounter.
I don’t know who she was: someone’s mother, grandmother, a local teacher, perhaps?
I hope I made her day. She certainly made mine!