Posted on June 19, 2021

The Phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ Is Now a Common Sight in America. Is It a Sign?

Clyde McGrady, Washington Post, June 14, 2021

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” began to appear everywhere: on front lawns and back bumpers, on NBA players’ warm-up shirts during pregame shoot-arounds, on gamers’ title screens when they fired up “FIFA 20,” on the tongues of longtime activists, college coaches, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). On the chests of Black people asserting their humanity and White people professing their allyship.

After former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of Floyd’s murder, Lisa Granade, a 40-year-old White woman, finally got around to putting up a sign on her property, in an overwhelmingly White Seattle neighborhood. Granade chose a black flag with a rainbow-colored fist clenched in solidarity, hanging it on a street-facing fence alongside banners supporting LGBTQ rights and opposing gun violence.

And that’s how she ended up standing in front of her house getting yelled at and called a “racist” by another White woman in athleisure wear.


“I was very shocked,” Granade told The Washington Post, “because honestly there’s more BLM flags than there are Black people in my neighborhood.”

Political signs, when they are ubiquitous, can make support for a candidate or cause seem overwhelming. Support for Black Lives Matter may indeed be high: A March poll conducted online by The Washington Post and the University of Maryland found 65 percent of Americans said they supported Black Lives Matter — similar to the 63 percent who indicated support in a Post-ABC telephone poll last July.


Rayneese Primrose feels a certain attachment to the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” which she says she’s seen online in Etsy shops, written on signs for sale next to red Make America Great Again hats.

“I want to be protective of it,” says Primrose, who is African American. “I don’t want it to be abused or just used or sold with the intent of cashing in on the phrase with the seller not even understanding the weight behind it.”

And how does that make her feel?

“Pretty annoyed,” she said. “I feel like that’s further working to help dilute the message that needs to keep strong. I don’t want it to become like a commercial slogan where it’s one of those, like ‘Eat Pray Love,’ or something like that, where no one gives it a second thought when it happens. I want it to continue to be political.”


Granade became aware of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” when it grew into a rallying cry after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., but the audacity of white supremacists during the Trump presidency made the phrase seem more necessary and urgent.


After the Chauvin conviction, Granade decided, for the first time in her life, to express her political convictions in the form of physical banners. She wanted to remind people that the work of fighting racism wasn’t over just because the trial of Floyd’s killer had ended with a “guilty” verdict.

“I kind of had this concern that people are gonna act like, ‘All right, racism’s fixed,’ ” she says.

It’s not. The signs are everywhere.