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  • Writer's pictureChris Ford

It's not just a shirt.

One of many reasons this mother works to dismantle racism.

"Last summer I went to visit my daughter in Portland. We were walking down Congress Street when we saw a sign in front of a tiny print shop that said they were collecting donations for BLM related causes and giving a free t-shirt for every donation. We went inside, made our donations and received our shirts. Later that day we walked around Portland in our matching Black Lives Matter shirts and visited the various murals, signs and flags supporting the movement. It was a very positive, uplifting day. Wearing that same shirt in the River Valley, however, has a completely different result. I have never been able to wear that shirt in public without attracting dirty looks and outright death stares. I shared this fact with my daughters and they said “Be careful, Mom. Stay safe.”- the same thing I tell them when they go out. But my reality is very different. All I have to do to avoid the aggression and micro-aggression that racism causes is to put on a different shirt, not a different skin. There is so much work to do to change a system that supports systemic racism. We need to work together and be the change."

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