Protestors march for black lives in Marion
MARION — Protestors from the Tri-Town Against Racism group gathered in Marion on June 20 to make their voices heard, and to tell their own stories and the stories of children and friends.
The group met near Tabor’s Wickenden Chapel and marched down Spring Street, up Cottage Street and then down Island Wharf Road to the bandshell, where 6 speakers delivered remarks.
Rick DaSilva helped to organize the event and opened up the speeches by telling protestors that there aren’t many black faces in Marion, but “as we see fewer faces we need to do more work.”
Barbara Sullivan was next to speak and recalled some metaphorical advice she was given to “not be a psychologist, be a cardiologist,” and reach people through their hearts not their minds.
She added her own interpretation: “be an oncologist,” comparing racism to a cancer, and saying the treatment is truth and love, and a good dose of self-education for white people.
Jaeda Lopes was next to speak, saying that when she moved to the Tri-Town in third grade she knew right away that she was different. She went through a period from when she was 8 years old to when she was 12 where she wanted so badly to fit in that she straightened her hair and wore the same clothes as everyone else, even going as far as to say “I’m not black, this is just a tan.”
She added “no one ever told me ‘it’s okay to be black!’”
It wasn’t until her freshman year that she started embracing that side of her identity. Then, she started to feel the insensitive comments that she had always gotten were less out of ignorance and more due to racism.
One white classmate said “I am tan, so I can say the n-word,” while others insisted they know what she felt.
Lopes worried for her grades, but also for her mental health. She said she has to keep pointing out racism at Old Rochester Regional High School because “they don’t want that problem.”
Lopes’ mother, Danielle, said her son was slapped and called a slur in class in sixth grade. he went to the bathroom and called her, too scared to come out.
Danielle then had to come and get him, and listen to the principal lecture her son for having a phone in class.
“I almost lost my mind,” she said.
Allison Noyce, one of the group’s organizers called on people to join the Tri-Town Against Racism Facebook group, and told about a project they are starting to put at least 20 anti-racist books in each school to make it normal to see diversity.
Although she has two black, sons, she emphasized that the anti-racist effort “can’t just be the mothers and fathers of black kids.”
Lisa Gomes, the mother of Talon Gomes, who has spoken at protests in all three towns, told the story of what it was like to get the call that her son was arrested, and how hard it was to fight his four felony and four misdemeanor charges as a single mother.
“My son is Talon Gomes, and his life matters,” she said, to finish her speech.