There is a Baptist Church on the corner of my block which is very well attended. It’s three-story frame and tall white steeple acts as a landmark to which I can judge the distance to my apartment. The congregation is black and largely from the neighborhood.
I have been inside the church several times to vote in national and local elections, and for the block association Christmas party last year. It’s a great church that has a full basketball court, kitchen, and meeting rooms that service the community.
Immediately when you enter the lobby of the church, there is a large black and white sign that says: Black Lives Matter. The sign also includes pictures of people in the congregation.
I have seen people on social media complain about the phrase Black Lives Matter by adding All Lives Matter, but the congregation knows there is truth in their statement.
For years they have seen the the city fail the neighborhood schools, ignore the local infrastructure, and stop and frisk many local residents. Then to add insult to injury, it took some white people moving into the neighborhood for the city to start making some real improvements, solidifying the feeling that the people of color in my neighborhood don’t matter.
Yesterday when I was walking home from the subway, I was pondering the mass shooting in Charleston, and was sick over it. I still am. But as I was walking, I saw flashing lights from a police car ahead of me. I sighed, thinking, “What happened now?”
As I got closer to my block, I saw the NYPD stationed outside of the Baptist Church, keeping watch over the building and the congregation as they conducted their Thursday evening meetings.
After such a mournful day I was happy to see that our city had extended their services to our neighborhood. It’s just a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction.
We need to support and empower our black communities. We need to stop pretending that people of color are undeserving. We need to stop believing that black = bad.
We need to change.