Yesterday I went to celebrate Pride month at the Mudhole. It was a beautiful ceremony. We chalked messages of positivity. Listened to speeches about inclusivity from the founders of Nutley Pride, Mayor Tucci, and even our surprise guest NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. It felt like a giant step forward for our town with respect to equality and inclusivity.

However, as I continued through the park to the center of town, I witnessed a very different scene. On one side were a group of Black Lives Matter social justice activists peacefully protesting to end systemic racism by marching to raise awareness and encourage involvement.  On the other side, was a group dedicated to—well, I’m not sure. Apparently they assembled to protect the statue of Christopher Columbus, which sits in the town square, because “someone” told them the protestors were coming to take it down.

Despite the fact that no threat had been made.

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Despite the fact that the BLM organizers continued to publicly state on social media, including a letter to the editor published in TAPinto Nutley, that they had no intention of touching the statue. Yet, the white, mostly older group still came.

And instead of protesting to preserve a statue, it appeared they really came to protest preserving a way of life called “being openly racist.”

All you needed was to be there to hear the chants and slurs, racial and otherwise, hurled at
the BLM protestors.

The N word.
Piece of sh*t.
I’ll break you in two.
Get a job.
Go home.
And, yes, USA.

As if USA is a slur to be used against people of color. But, I guess, in this context, it is. Which is exactly why the BLM protestors are marching.

The statue of Columbus is an ironic one to fight your battle over. As a middle-aged woman of Italian descent, I understand the mythology around Columbus because I grew up with it. But, it’s just that—a myth.

This is not even the battle the BLM protesters came to fight. They came to fight racism. And I guess in the end that worked out, because that’s exactly what they encountered.