I think he was angry because I haven't given up hope. But that's only a guess. I wore my black ribbon today and, stupidly, it was hard for people to notice because I'd worn a very dark shirt. I had to point it out to people and then ask them to ask me. It was a tad weird but I was going to talk about Brent Martin on my first day wearing the armband. What wasn't weird was the response I got. As soon as I began describing Brent's murder and the point of the black armband people got very quiet, very serious and asked questions that indicated that they very much got the point of the protest. It's heartening to know that there is caring in a world where such violence can occur.
Thus, I was feeling good about the day. Doubly good because I'd been contacted by a reporter from the Sunderland Echo who is interested in doing a story on the protest. He indicated that he knew Brent's mother and would let her know about what we are doing this week. Emails have poured in to my hotmail address from people who are joining in and people who are saying thanks for bringing this story to a broader audience - to a community of those who care. I should be wary of feeling good because that just means that an axe is waiting to fall.
On the way home from work, while in the car, I got a phone call from someone who I've chosen not to name here. But this is someone here in Ontario who is fairly well known for their work in the field of disability. I don't know him well but we've met on occasion and I've always felt that he saw me as either 'frivolous' or a 'wing nut'. That's OK, I'm an adult, I don't need everyone to love me anymore.
His phone call was to express concern about the black ribbon campaign and to ask if I'd even thought about what I was doing or was I 'just acting on impulse'. I told him that of course I'd thought about it, but that I was also acting on impulse. I had been angered by the story and my first impulse was to shout 'ENOUGH' as loudly as I could. My blog seemed to be the place to do this and therefore, I did.
He said that, this is a quote, 'campaigns like this are meaningless, they get everyone stirred up for a few days and nothing changes' ... I told him that I didn't agree. Brent's story has changed something in me. It's changed something in others. Isn't that where real change begins? Personal awareness. Making a pledge to oneself that one will no longer simply sit and mutter ... that one will now stand and shout. He actually 'tut tutted' me. Tut Tut. Really.
"How many others has this happened to, how many tragedies, why should this one be different?" he asked. Again I told him that because we'd gotten into the habit of silence when one of our own is murdered, brutally murdered isn't a reason to continue with silence. Every minority community has had to break silence.
It's time for us.
To break silence.
I asked him to think about the fact that there were people, maybe not many, but people in Holland, England, Ireland, Canada, the United States, Austrailia, New Zealand that were wearing black armbands in memory of a man with a disability. In memory of someone lost. Isn't that at least a hint of who we are as a community? Isn't that a beginning of a vision of who we could become as a community.
He Tut Tutted again. And I got mad.
I told him that I had not given up hope. I will not give up hope. I will stay the course. I will fight the battles as they come and trust my impulses when they seem to be right.
Though he seems comfortable in the quiet.
I will be silent no longer.
And then, I hung up.