It’s okay to love… everyone.
“It’s okay to be white”.
I roll my eyes and rip the sign from the lamppost, leaving a fragment of white attached with the tape. Nobody is saying it’s not okay to be white, I think to myself as I crumple the paper into a ball in my fist. Especially no one in power is saying that. What if Miranda had seen this? Or Naomi? Or Robin? Or any of our neighbors with not-white skin? How would they have interpreted it?
I walk home, open the door, release the hounds from their harnesses, and fume. How to deal with this? How to explain that, even if well intentioned, the message is misguided? I wake my computer, tapping the edge with a finger. I log on, type, post. One of my people is feeling this fear, and then feeding fear in others, so it is up to me to try and change it. Not that I can reach the sign-maker myself, I am sure, but if I start the conversation, if I explain, maybe I can help shift the tide, add my voice to the breakers. It’s time and past for a higher narrative.
Then I learn that the sign is a recruiting tool, not innocent. I notify the police and shred the message of hate that somehow wormed its way into my neighborhood. I tell others. I spread the word of NOT-OKAYNESS. But I remain unsettled. I need to fill the void the fear leaves behind.
I return to the lamppost and tape up my own sign. Because this fear is all shadow—dark, inscrutable, and completely insubstantial. It is simply our bodies blocking the light of the truth: there is, and always has been, enough.
My sign, on rainbow paper, says: It’s okay to love everyone.
Mary Elizabeth Summer is the author of the young-adult Trust Me mystery series. She lives in Beaverton with her wife, their daughter, their dog, and their evil overlor—er, cats.