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Work together to make Boone better

I’m A’Ja Lyons, a Black Boone resident and one of the lead organizers of the Boone Black Lives Matter march. Boone County and Story County friends and neighbors came in droves to show that Black lives will matter in Boone. There were negative reactions, but the love shown has been louder than any vitriol. The negativity is indicative of more community work to accomplish.

Boone is a town where traditions are held close, especially by those with deep roots and much authority. Deviations from the norms are perceived as attacks. Black residents tend to keep to ourselves. Some residents say there isn’t a racism problem in Boone. They are failing to understand the lived realities of some Black Boone residents. The protest march was perceived as coming out of nowhere and directed by outsiders. We have always been here, the issues have always been present, and some of us are breaking the silence.

It is heartbreaking that speaking our truth is deemed an attack when there are Black residents who’ve called Boone home for decades. There are committees in Boone to attract commerce and homeowners. Doesn’t hundreds coming out to support Black lives look good for Boone, instead of boarded up storefronts? Would not a multicultural opportunity attract a variety of residents make Boone appealing to new business and tax revenues? I certainly love my town even more after this outpouring of support.

The primary directive of law enforcement is to be reactive. Someone breaks the law; police respond. This often has not worked well, especially for marginalized people. The Black Lives Matter movement is not only about reacting to systemic injustice, but to become proactive about solutions to reduce their occurrence. Let’s work together to make Boone better. Join me at blacklivesmatterbooneiowa@gmail.com.

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