Photo by Jessica Keller: Protesters carry signs denouncing racism during a silent march Friday in Magnolia. The march was held in conjunction with an event organized by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County to honor black lives lost across the nation and demand an end to systemic racism in America.
Photo by Jessica Keller: Protesters carry signs denouncing racism during a silent march Friday in Magnolia. The march was held in conjunction with an event organized by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County to honor black lives lost across the nation and demand an end to systemic racism in America.
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Carrying signs saying “Black Lives Matter” and “Say their names” and “Racism is the virus,” about 100 Magnolia residents shared their support for the nationwide protests and demonstrations by participating in a silent march Friday in Magnolia.

The march took place in conjunction with an event organized by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County to honor black lives lost across the nation following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by former police officer Derek Chauvin and demand an end to institutionalized racism.

Marchers, for the most part masked and many carrying signs, gathered in front of the Magnolia Community Center before marching up 34th Avenue West before turning up Emerson Street, 32nd Avenue West, Smith Street and concluding in front of the community center.

While the participants were largely silent, the procession and signs received honks and cheers of approval from motorists driving past.

Pastor Marci Scott-Weis, senior pastor at Magnolia United Church of Christ, said she participated because she thinks it is important to do.

“... I think that all white people have an obligation right now to use their voices and their bodies in the work of racial reconciliation, and to me that is holy work and sacred work,” she said.

Although Scott-Weis did not coordinate the event, she sent an email to her congregation on Thursday afternoon and said she was pleased with how many of them attended, “even on a rainy day in the era of COVID-19.” Many, she said, had already reached out to her and asked what they can do to show their support.

“I hope that white people are prepared for a lot of work over a long time to undo the systems of racism that are in place,” Scott-Weis said. “I hope we’re prepared to do our own hard work in identifying how we’re complicit in the system of racism, and I hope that black bodies stop being brutalized and we all move forward in a way that is life-giving for everyone, particularly our black siblings.”

Some members of the Magnolia Community Council, including Carol Burton, Janis Traven and Stephen Faciszewski also marched to show their support.

Traven, who marched with her husband, Mark Linsey, said she participated because she thinks white supremacy can’t continue. Even before the march, however, she said it was heartening to see all the signs in people’s windows and hung around the neighborhood decrying racism and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and to hear the honking in support of the march.

Faciszewski concurred.

“It was nice to see the community out,” he said.

Traven said she hopes that people begin to understand on a larger scale that white privilege is hurting people and hopes that some of the changes taking place, including legislation, changes the hearts, minds and behaviors of people who live with white privilege.

Virginia Klamon, Faciszewksi’s wife, said she hopes marches like the one Friday lead to more action.

“I hope that we stand up, speak up and each find a way to do our part because we all have a part in this,” she said.

Linsey said people need to continue talking about these issues moving forward and educating themselves by taking into account more than one point of view on an issue.

He said he had a lot of misconceptions about what was taking place in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone based on what he initially heard, but once he looked into the matter further, Linsey realized he hadn’t understood the full story.

Cheryl L. Cooke, an associate professor in the college of nursing at Seattle University and a psychiatric nurse practitioner, attended Friday’s march with Scott-Weis. Cooke, who does not live in Magnolia, was one of a small group of people of color who attended. She said she attended the march because she feels it is important for her to be seen in communities that perhaps do not have many people of color and because she, herself, is a privileged black woman who is well-educated and has two jobs and is safe and secure.

“So it’s very important for me to be seen as speaking out and taking a position on this,” Cooke said.

“When we’re quiet and not putting our faces out there, then we’re acquiescing” to institutional and systemic racism, she added.

“We can’t see more black men being killed for no reason,” Cooke said, adding society can’t see young black people afraid because society doesn’t value them, either.

Cooke said she was encouraged by Friday’s march and the attention being placed on systemic racism and white privilege and how that perpetuates racism toward people of color.

“Well, I think it’s exciting to see the enthusiasm and attention to this issue,” Cooke said, adding she was encouraged by all the groups of people she saw holding signs and demonstrating on their own while she was driving back to the city afterward. “Just to see people articulating a position like this is so encouraging.”

She said it is important for white people to get involved in these conversations and take steps to educate themselves and listen to the conversations black people have been having for years.

Cooke said black people know there is a problem with institutionalized racism, but “every day we get told there is no problem.” It is a positive step, she said, that white people, who knowingly or unknowingly contributed to black people feeling they had no value in society, are starting to have these conversations.

She said more work needs to be done, however, especially regarding race and poverty. Black people, Cooke said, have always made significantly less money than white people and have had a much higher unemployment rate.

“So there are these structural inequities built in that need to be dismantled,” she said.

Cooke feels that, in some ways, the coronavirus and the outrage following Floyd’s death occurred at an opportune time in this country.

At some point during the pandemic, the nation became tired of coronavirus, tired of the worry and tired of COVID-19 consuming all aspects of society, Cooke said.

When people saw the recording of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, they had time to watch and see what black Americans face and fear on a regular basis.

As a result, many began to understand and share some of the rage and frustration felt in the black community and want to do something about it, through protests or dialog. Now people are talking about being allies, practicing anti-racism, recognizing white privilege and calling out racism in the community, she said.

“Having it in people’s faces puts them in the middle of it,” Cooke said.

Once things start returning to normal, people can’t let the conversation end, Cooke said.

I just know that anti-racist work takes time and it takes energy because once you start looking, you see (racism) everywhere,” she said.