Black Lives In the Harbor.

The time is always right to do what is right.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Trigger Warning: the content below includes mentions of police brutality against people of color.

In May, the killing of yet another black life set off waves of protests around the world demanding change. We watched news reports of millions of people globally calling an end to violence for people of color everywhere. Here at home, it was no different. The streets of Olympia were filled with signs and murals downtown depicting the faces of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Cries of injustice and passionate calls to end systematic racism were voiced. And there was chaos. Private property was destroyed, fights broke out, people were injured. Emotions, politicizing, mass amounts of misinformation cluttered the eyes and ears of residents. All the sudden, three simple words BLACK LIVES MATTER, set off a new wave of controversy. But it doesn’t nor should it be that way.

“Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. BLM is a movement where every day, supporters recommit to healing themselves and each other, and to co-creating alongside comrades, allies, and family a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported. BLM supporters acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.”
Black Lives Matter Website, What We Believe : https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/

It DOES NOT mean, cops lives don’t matter. It also DOES NOT mean that everyone’s life doesn’t matter. Of course, all lives matter. But right now, at this moment in our society, we need to acknowledge that the black community is hurting. The black community needs advocates in this world, that is so utterly broken with divisions running deeper by the hour.

Change must occur.
Peaceful allies must stand in solidarity.
Voting is essential.

That’s why whenever I passed my local neighborhood market and saw three simple words – BLACK LIVES MATTER in the window, I felt hope. If a tiny, mom & pop grocery store in the outskirts of town can get it, maybe more can too. Maybe progress doesn’t have to feel so out of reach. Seeing the words ‘Justice for George Floyd’ on our area’s famous marquee gave me a sense of pride. Immense pride for seeing progress in my own backyard. The Gull Harbor Mercantile received tons of comments in support. People deliberately stopped in to say thank you. New customers started coming in saying they had never shopped there before but want to now because of the signage.

But then the reader board changed. The BLM poster came down. A few days later, us neighbors learned that an employee was fired for wearing Black Lives Matter on her apron. Wait, what? Confusion ensued. What caused the owners to have such a sudden change of heart and to go as far as letting an employee who has worked there for over a decade go? Below that employee’s account of what happened. This is from her perspective. She encourages you to reach out to the Merc to hear their side as well.

Courtney is a Boston Harbor resident of over 20 years. She raised her amazing son Conner in the neighborhood and has deep ties to our community. She’s also been the friendly, can’t help but love her, character at the merc off and on for 13 years. She’s also an advocate. After the world watched. She knew showing public support for the black community was important. It was vital. So on her shifts at the Merc, she put those words on the marquee. She hung the BLM poster in the windows. Then one day management told her to stop. Told her that there were complaints coming in, though Courtney herself never personally heard any. The first of those alleged complaints came in the form of a text message sent directly to management from an anonymous neighbor which read:

“Take it from me, a rich white guy, no one is going to shop in your store if you keep putting up these signs.”

Sandy Yanoone, local Poet standing in front of the Merc reader board.

The text was sent directly to the manager, Ted, after this photo was seen on social media. Was it the word ‘pride’ or BLM that compelled this anonymous neighbor to 1.) identify himself as a white rich person and 2.) threaten the business itself?

That may be an answer we never know, but regardless his intimidation tactic worked. The owners of the Merc, the Kistlers demanded all signage be taken down immediately and stated the store was to remain neutral on these topics. Courtney said she felt sad, discouraged but ultimately she understood. This was and is their business. Their livelihood. So she relented. She stopped putting the BLM poster in the window and no longer did she change the marquee.

Instead, to show her support, she wore a pin on her work apron that simply read ‘Black Lives Matter’. She wore it for 3 days straight. Three separate shifts where not a word was spoken about it. Tuesday morning, she came in to find her pin had been removed from her apron by management. She was floored but had an extra BLM pin and put it on. She went out to clean the gas pumps like she’s done hundreds of times before when the manager, Ted came outside and reminded her that the store was going to remain neutral on the subject and that he respectfully asked that she remove the pin from her person. Courtney replied that she respectfully declined. That the message of BLM was important to her and caving to threatening neighbors would go against her morales. Ted then walked back inside made a phone call to his mother, Teri Kistler, an owner who arrived shortly after.

Courtney was reminded again, this time by Teri, that the store was going to remain neutral on the subject of BLM and that wearing the pin on her apron goes against that. Courtney flatly refused citing that this issue was not one in which someone can remain neutral on. This is a societal issue, one of humanity in which members of our community need support. Teri then said,

“You remove the BLM pin from your apron
or you are fired.”

Courtney held up her hands, removed her apron and clocked out for the last time ending her time as an employee of the Gull Harbor Mercantile. She stood her ground.

The Merc represented so much more to her than just a way to pay bills. It’s a community to her. It’s her friends that have become family. She loved serving her customers. She may have not always agreed politically with some of them but never did she feel anger or hatred to those who sported MAGA hats. She calls many Trump supporters her friends.

To her, this is not about politics or republican vs. democrat. Her intentions with wearing a BLM pin on her person was not to change the minds of those in opposition. Sure, if a discussion were to come up, she would openly invite a dialogue. But that was not her goal. For her, BLM is a movement of humanity and publicly supporting that type of change needs to happen because it’s about damn time.

Does she want the neighbors to boycott the Merc?
Her answer is NO. In fact, a resounding NO. She even still shops at the Merc. She knows the Merc is a source of income for a lot of neighbors and wants our community to continue to support the local farmers and producers. In her opinion, the Merc is awesome precisely because of the community it serves, those folks that bring in their local produce, the folks that knit and crochet, the local artists that sell their art. The Merc has dog bones because the community asked for them. They have gluten-free and organic items because the community requested them. The community literally defines the Merc otherwise it would just be another shell station. She believes they didn’t represent the community that made them so excellent when they chose neutral. That they missed a chance to be on the right side of history. To be on the right side of justice. Her call-to-action would be to let the Kistler family know that their actions do not represent the majority of our community. She wants calls to be made, neighbors to stop by and say they support the black community and remaining silent on such an important issue is no longer an option. She is okay with peaceful protests. This is bigger than her and her story but she wants people to know this happens and it happens in our very own backyard.

Gull Harbor Mercantile (360) 352-4014

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

For the Love of Wildflowers by Sabrina

When I was pregnant with you Georgia Grace, I fell madly in love with wildflowers. I even wanted it to be your middle name, but the nickname GG seemed much better than GW.

It was August and I was hot and very pregnant, I would walk around the neighborhood and pick blackberries. Everything slowed down in that time, I noticed more beauty in the world. It was like my own little bubble, just you in my belly, the beautiful foxgloves and poppies and the birds chirping around. My memory of all this has a lens of rose colored glasses. Like I was a disney princess, skipping along with the bunnies, with flowers blooming and bowing as I dance by…But it was magical, and the sight of a cluster of daisies or sweet peas on the side of the road gave me such immense pleasure, it still does. I am the crazy lady pulled over on the highway picking a bouquet of weeds.

I think if I hadn’t been chosen to be your mother, I never would have found my way. I have always felt like Alice, lost in Wonderland. I was looking for all the things that everyone else had; a family, a house, a perfectly crafted life and home that I had cultivated. It turns out I was a little too messy, a little too wild for “all that” to work out. It hasn’t been easy to find my way back to the wildflowers, but my daughter, you let something bloom inside me and I will always be drawn to it now. You showed your mamma herself. The summer I fell in love with wildflowers was the summer you were born. You were so wide awake, and so alive already. Nothing will ever stop you from being you baby. You came into this world knowing…

About Mothering A Wild Daughter

It is a hard thing to stay wild in this world. It’s a hard thing to raise your daughter and not dim her light. I catch myself all the time, telling her to be quieter, nicer, and more agreeable. Of course I can’t let her run around acting like a brat, screaming and demanding without so much as a please or thank you. It’s not that, it’s all the rest. It’s hard enough to un train yourself and stand in your own wildness everyday, but to take on a whole person and not fuck it up. It is incredibly daunting and HARD. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it’s HARD. I don’t want to bury the most beautiful thing about my daughter and mold and change and critique everything she does until that wide-eyed knowing has disappeared and it’s all my fault. I have to stop thinking that way. I have to trust that I know and I’m not perfect, I’m messy and that’s okay. 

I just have to slow down and go back to that summer. It’s just me and GG and the wildflowers. They whisper all the things I already know, they remind me.

For The Love of Wildflowers will be my compass, my house, my family, and my truth. Whatever I need is held in their petals, safe and waiting for me to come looking.

An Essential Worker’s Perspective by Carly

every single time i turn into the driveway – “what if i today is the day i bring the virus home? what if i, unknowingly, invite danger through our front door?”. how could i possibly live with myself if that happened. sometimes i ugly cry outside. but never inside.
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i know i’m not alone. i imagine a lot of essential workers struggle to take deep breaths as they strip down, not allowing their children to touch them until they are clean, just as i do.
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daily, i see fear on the faces down every aisles. i see huge, barren holes on shelves from panic. i learn of delivery truck issues and wonder how that effects our community. i hear of heartache and overwhelming anxiety from my peers. i feel enormous guilt my mac is not setup in a checkstand. i answer emails and respond to comments from isolated, elderly people looking for ways to safely get their meds and food. i try to help advise on and think through new safety measures for all and communicate them the best way i can but things change rapidly. it never seems like enough.
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so when i finally do walk through our door; i try my best to leave the day behind me. i focus on playing Uno with the boys, maybe letting them win every time just to hear their jeers. i rock my daughter to sleep in the kitchen to otis redding & bill withers instead of trying to finish the dishes. when the kids do finally go down, i hug my husband tightly as he tells me his struggles balancing work & home life and how that can change at any given moment with the guard. then i prepare the homeschool lessons for the next morning, knowing full well i am not even remotely qualified.

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this shit is exhausting on just about every level. focusing on the good takes some readjusting sometimes but it helps. the good is there. it’s just buried at times.

Motherhood Is Not What I Expected by Bethany

Motherhood is not what I expected. Not more difficult, just a different kind of difficult. When I was pregnant, and pictured being a mom, I saw a totally different version of myself than I am today. I saw myself with a husband who would help me, a partner who had the same parenting and life goals as me. I expected that I would be working part time once I had a kid. When I was holding my little baby, I dreamt of focusing most of my energy and time on teaching her new things, and little or no time at work. And then, life changed, I became a single mom, and my dreams changed too. And that’s okay; it’s wonderful actually. Parts of myself I that I had forgotten or given up on came to the surface. I have such different goals for myself, my career, and for my little family. And, as I start to work towards those goals, it is really easy to feel like my dreams for motherhood are slipping away. It’s so easy to feel like those goals I had for myself as a mom are dying . I often feel judged, even though I’m pretty sure that the only person judging me, is my own mind. I didn’t grow up seeing single moms or moms working full-time. I grew up surrounded by homeschoolers and people who quit their jobs to stay home with their kids. I know that isn’t my dream for myself, and that is okay. But, I’ve also never seen anything else.  When my life started to be so starkly different than what I had seen, it became really difficult not to judge myself. I’m not at home with my daughter most days; I’m at work. I’m not the one teaching her to tie her shoes, or how to say the alphabet, or how to count. And, as I look into advancing my career and making life better for  my little family, I realize that it’ll probably always be this way. I’ll probably always have to work full-time.  I think I’ll always want to work full-time. And, that is so different than I expected.  I need to learn to be okay with that. Because, what I need and what my little family needs, is different than what I had expected. What I want is different than what I had expected. It’s easy to judge myself and feel like I’m not teaching my daughter much. Often, I think she’s not learning from me because I am not teaching her in the way that I expected to. But, I am teaching her. She sees me working hard for us. She hears me talking about going to school and about my goals and dreams for myself and for us. I’m teaching her to work hard and go after her goals. She hears me constantly saying that I love her and that she is important me and that is helping to shape her into a healthy person. She sees me making decisions  to better my life and hers, and from that, I know she will learn how to make choices to better herself and those around her. She sees me surrounding myself with loving supportive healthy relationships and valuing those people in my life. She sees me get frustrated. She sees me calm myself when I’m feeling anxious. I hear her telling her self and others to take a deep breath and to give themselves a moment when they are struggling to remain calm. And, I’m proud that she has learned that from me. She sees me there with her, not leaving when it’s hard, not judging when she is having a meltdown, and staying with her through it. She hears my apologies when I do lose my cool and say something I shouldn’t have. That is teaching her too. I’m learning from this as well. I’m learning to be a more compassionate, strong, supportive, and patient person. All by being a different Mom than I ever expected to be. 

Cheers, Mom. By Nicole

Here’s to the one woman that keeps me strong. The one I call when I have the happiest of news to share, and the one I call when my day can’t get any worse. The one who’s voice can comfort me in any situation, from 1000 miles away, just by saying hello through the line. 

Cheers, mom to you, for showing me unconditional love. For asking me, did you pray about it? For instilling in me the importance of loving everyone, for who they are. Thank you for knowing me, listening to me, checking in on me and thinking of me. 

For 34 years, we’ve shared highs and lows, we’ve shared hobbies and we’ve enjoyed the differences we each have. Cheers to you mom, for inspiring me to stay true to myself. For teaching me values that I now share with my daughter. 

It wasn’t until I became a mother that my appreciation for you became so much more. Understanding the love that you hold for me, fully. Knowing the heart wrenching pain some of my decisions brought to you, as I grew as a person. The sleepless nights, with thoughts of motherhood swirling my mind – bringing me to you and how you handled the same concerns as a mother. 

I feel closer to you than ever, with the connection of motherhood bringing us together in ways I never knew would happen. I am confident as a mother and know that whatever trials I find myself in with my daughter, I can turn to you. 

Cheers, mom. For making a difference, for being the best mom you know how to be, and exactly the mom that I need.