Letter: Black Lives Matter

I’m 75 years old and have lived in Putnam Valley for 24 years. I love Putnam County. I love my neighbors. I still believe that the Statue of Liberty was put there to welcome everyone and includes those who were already here when Europeans arrived and those who were forced to come here beginning in 1619. They and their ancestors are all my neighbors.

On Feb. 6, I attended a Black Lives Matter rally at the historic county courthouse in Carmel. One of the things that made me do this was that my neighbor began flying a Trump flag on Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol riot.

We have been neighborly for all these years; I won’t stop being his neighbor. But on Feb. 6, I stood for nearly two hours listening to the diverse group of intelligent, caring, young people who organized the rally, and older people like me, asserting that Black lives matter. I also needed to be there because I still can’t get over watching the police officer with his knee on George Floyd’s throat, or that on Jan. 6 my fellow Americans tried to terrorize Congress and all of us.

On Feb. 6, most people driving by — including a few in pickups — honked in support. But some drivers and passengers — including a few in pickups — bellowed, “Go home!” “Trump 2020!” “Blue lives matter!” and “All lives matter!” These people are my neighbors, too, but each of us is anonymous to each other.

I’m writing because I want to be a good neighbor and am forever hopeful that if I keep the lines of communication open during this time of polarization, it is better than closing down or ugly confrontation. I am also writing because I was in Carmel to be public about my opposition to the values that my neighbor’s flag represents and to name the empathic terror I feel when he flies it. I needed to support and stand with those who stand up for the yet-unfulfilled dream. I need to do both! That’s America to me.

Mark Weiss, Putnam Valley

3 thoughts on “Letter: Black Lives Matter

  1. Thank you, Mark Weiss, for your letter and openness. My family and I have resided in Putnam County for the past 10 years. We are also descendants of those you speak of, that were brought here by force hundreds of years ago. I feel my neighbors see us, but also don’t “see” us.

    Those Trump 2020 flags displayed so proudly in our neighborhood by some of the most beautiful and kind people shock us each and every time we see them. But that is part of their freedom of speech and beauty of their right to expression, right? So we have to be considerate of those that differ from us in their views. Something we try to teach and show our children.

    But I wanted to say “thank you” for being respectful and “woke,” as the young people say 🙂 For having the ability to “see” everyone and see us all, and understanding that there are crucial truths in our county’s history—it’s an amazing breath of this fresh country air we breathe.

    When my sons and I attended a recent Black Lives Matter rally on those same courthouse steps, I had tears in my eyes seeing that there were so many supporters — such a diverse gathering of people, it was heartwarming. (We shut up those haters that taunted the crowd, too!) Black lives do matter — this doesn’t mean that others do not. Many are dismissive when they hear that statement and/or quick to rebut. My sons’ lives matter, my husband’s life matters, my life matters… Thank you for the support, understanding, and acknowledgment.

    • To: Ms. Travis and Mr. Weiss: Thank you both! Your thoughtful comments, very much, matter!

      It’s very easy, especially of recent years, when divisiveness has been encouraged. Those, when lost, are moved by such rhetoric, basically out of fear. The fear of not knowing oneself, perhaps the worst; and ultimately results in following anything or anyone.

      Continue sharing understanding and compassionate thoughts. Your light may lead some from their vacuum of darkness, while also silencing the rest.

  2. I still recall, at age 82, a young and powerful gentleman who spoke about content of character and not the color of skin. This is how I have been all of my life. We would all be wise not to continue down the path of which life matters and which skin color is good, bad or indifferent. We are all God’s children. We must not allow politicians and hate groups on both sides to design our futures. One civil war in this country is certainly more than needed. Haters will eventually consume themselves but unfortunately take others with them.