By: Shannon Cofrin Gaggero



A few months ago, I placed this yellow, intersectional Black Lives Matter sign created by Matice M. Moore. A Black artist and activist located in Arizona, in a front window of our house in Atlanta, Georgia….

I’m a white, cisgender, heterosexual woman with class privilege. My husband is also white, cisgender and heterosexual and our children are white.

After the Charleston massacre, I was propelled into action and for the past two years I’ve been laser focused on how I can show up as a parent and a person for racial and social justice….

While I’m certainly trying more than ever before, I do not pretend to be a perfect, anti-racist white person by any stretch of the imagination….

We live on a high-traffic street in Atlanta, Georgia, in a predominately white, affluent community. Despite Atlanta’s reputation as the liberal oasis of the South, we witness racism often, primarily via our neighborhood listserves. Black men, in particular, but also black women and children are racially profiled, “see something, say something” is pushed as a way of life, and gentrification is celebrated. Our neighborhood is obsessed with crime; many of my neighbors believe we are under attack and unsafe. The data does not support this mindset….

I knew my husband’s hesitation to display the Black Lives Matter sign was the same as my own. We were scared. We were scared of a negative reaction from neighbors or random people walking by. We didn’t want to risk physical harm to ourselves, our children, or our home. Even though we supported Black Lives Matter in many ways in our lives, our whiteness afforded us the option to keep that support hidden and stay protected when we wanted to be. It was a privilege we weren’t quick to give up….

I’m ashamed to admit that I needed a Trump presidency to push me beyond this fear and to be fully out about where I stand….

I decided to again bring up the Black Lives Matter yard sign with my husband after wearing the pin for a couple of weeks. At first, my husband doubled down and stated he still felt uncomfortable displaying a sign….

Since our original conversation about the sign, a post I had written had gone pseudo-viral and I received a lot of online harassment and threats of violence….

My husband remained scared…

I primarily felt sad because our argument was a clear example of how whiteness works.

Being white affords us very real, physical and emotional protections in the communities we spend time in.

We were mitigating our risk at outwardly stating Black Lives Matter. We were admitting we expected backlash from our white neighbors. We were debating remaining hidden as people who strongly believe Black Lives Matter because we were scared. We were not used to taking risks as individuals or as a family. We were not used to being on the receiving end of negative, hateful interactions. This was whiteness….

If we remained silent, we had to consider ourselves active participants to injustice. Putting up a sign was a small action, to be sure, but it mattered….

We had the privilege of a breather.

After the New Year, my husband came around and supported putting up the sign, but asked we display it in our front window due to the fact we live on a busy street and to avoid the sign vandalization our friend had experienced. It was a compromise and that’s where the sign currently lives….

For better or for worse, this is our truth…. Moreover, we’ve come to fully understand that silence is ultimately as harmful as violence….

The first few months of Donald Trump’s presidency have done nothing but solidify the reality that we all need to dig deep and take new, bold and continuous actions, big and small, in order to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

What about you? Are you up for the challenge? What actions will you take?



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