OTTAWA — Residents of Westpointe, a suburban neighbourhood known for being very very white, are taking a stand against anti-Black racism thanks to a local activist they call “the most distinguished voice on issues of systemic racism and racial injustice in our community”: a Black Lives Matter lawn sign.
Martha Abbott, 56, ordered the sign online after seeing someone post about it on social media. She and her husband Joe have proudly displayed it on their front lawn for the past three weeks.
“It’s been a gruelling process, trying to figure out how we could help. So it was a huge relief to stick that sign in our yard,” she said, pointing to her bungalow, which is tucked away on a secluded street. “It’s our way of saying ‘We support Black rights’ — without having to say anything at all!”
Since arriving in Westpointe, the lawn sign has been seen outside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — rain or shine — spreading its message, which is printed on both its front and back sides: “We Stand Together #BLM #SPEAKUP.” It wasn’t long before it gained notoriety as the area’s foremost authority on inequality, oppression and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It makes you think: Maybe I should donate. Maybe I should join a protest. And you know what maybe I will,” said passerby Sam Johnson, looking over his shoulder to see if the lawn sign had heard him. “But not today. I can’t today. I have to, uh, walk my dog and — oh — I promised my buddy we’d finish season 3 of Ozark. Netflix Party is a total revolution.”
David Williams, a 63-year-old retiree, said he’s spent many long nights engaged in fiery debates with the Black Lives Matter lawn sign.
“There’s a lot we disagree on, but I’m first to admit that sign knows its stuff,” he said. “I haven’t seen this much passion since the ‘Slow Down, Children Playing’ sign strolled into town 42 years ago.”
Next week, Mayor Jim Watson is expected to present the lawn sign with a Key to the City in recognition of its outstanding social justice work.