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What BLM Signs Mean to People Who Put Them Up

by Amalia Heron

Black Lives Matter signs are ubiquitous on Beacon Hill. What does that movement mean to those who put them up? In an effort to understand what residents of the North Beacon Hill community thought about the Black Lives Matter movement and their part in it, I went around my neighborhood asking some basic questions and had some people share their thoughts.

This was initially a project for a Seattle-based youth zine (take a look at eccentrically us), so it is image based. The quotes found below each image are answers to some questions I asked as well as community members’ general comments. The interviews were conducted on the first of November, 2020. Some of the questions I asked were: “What does the BLM movement mean to you?” “Why did you put this sign up in your yard/window?” “What work do you think yet remains?” “What do you think your role in the movement is?”

While these quotes are over two months old, the topic remains pressing as we enter both a new year and a new presidential administration. Each of us comes to the Black Lives Matter movement from a different place; This series tells us a bit about what a few South End community members are left thinking about in the wake of summer 2020’s uprising.

Neil (15th Ave), parent and educator

“The place and position of whiteness in this society has meant a lot of privilege. For me, the movement means we need to value everyone, but that means focussing on BIPOC and other individuals who don’t have the same benefits or access.”

“I have a daughter whose father was African American and was killed before she was born, and I want to be in solidarity with individuals who are doing right by racial justice in Seattle. We’ve had the sign in our yard for years.”

"I think this has moved from being on the fringe to being more mainstream, in Seattle and other cities. But there’s a backlash, so it’s hard to see what success have been made.”

Abby (16th Ave), graduate student

“Black lives matter is not a political issue, it’s a issue of human rights and human decency.”

“I decorate [with Black Lives Matter objects] because it’s good to raise awareness.”

“There’s a lot that can be done on the legal level, like reparations.”

“My role is to educate other white people who don’t want to be educated.”

Middle school teacher (16th Ave)

“It’s crazy to think that my students have to be careful when they’re walking home from school because they could be killed by the police.”

“No one should feel like they have to do anything extra in their lives to keep from dying.”

“There’s been plenty of analysis of what the needs are but then the funding doesn’t happen.”

“As an educator, there’s been deeper conversations than I’ve ever seen before about how do we really—no, like really—think about what we’re teaching.”

Alex (15th Ave), adult

“Black Lives Matter is about basic equality, the desire not to be treated differently or for justice to treat you differently because of the color of your skin.”

“I would like to have my neighbors to have that reminder in their lives.”

“The movement had a lot of success in bringing awareness to the fact that different people are treated differently.”

Eric (12th Ave), parent and small business owner

“Black Lives Matter means to me that people want to stop being arbitrarily murdered”-

“Unfortunately, I think the only success that the movement has had is awareness. I don’t think we’ve seen policy changes.”

“White supremacists have infiltrated every level of government law enforcement: city, state, county, and federal, and there’s no top down move to remove them… These are people who we can identify and remove.”

“I would get rid of the police unions.”

“If any other nation was doing the level of bullshit that we are, other countries would invade us. Gassing civilians is an international war crime. If other countries were doing that, younger countries would invade them and harm the people who were gassing the civilians. That was our [the US’] justification for invading other countries. The laws are flawed here, so we should look at this like an international war crimes. I think that’s was missing from this conversation.”


Amalia Heron graduated from The Northwest School in 2020 and attends the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Hunter. Amalia is nineteen and lives in Beacon Hill and West Seattle.

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