I love living here. When my husband and I moved to the Pacific Northwest over a decade ago, we knew instantly that this was where we belonged. In our eyes, it was simply perfect; a small town that was still close to everything, a fantastic place to raise children, and an area that felt welcoming and affirming to all. We’ve spent the last 11 years making the area our home and we couldn’t be any more grateful, which makes the recent posting of white nationalist propaganda in the area so disturbing to me.
When I first spotted the “Blood and Soil” flyers on Borgen Boulevard in Gig Harbor I was incensed. I couldn’t believe that this hate was publicly posted in my beloved town. The flyers directed readers to a website for Patriot Front, a self-avowed white nationalist group. The manifesto posted on their website reads: “White America needs a generation of brave men to fearlessly rise to face all threats to their collective interest. A force of men and women steeled in their effort to realize their vision of a new nation. This gathering of the faithful, the true inheritors of America, will urge our people onward. As the State grows weak, we will grow strong.”
I’m not naive enough to think that local white nationalist activity arose because of recent national events but I certainly think they’re connected. White nationalists who live in our area likely feel more comfortable coming out of the dark after events like the Charlottesville march, the refusal of our president to condemn white supremacy, and the rise of white nationalist media outlets. The flyers posted on Borgen Boulevard are a clear signal to all of us that white supremacy is in our midst and it is our responsibility to take a stand.
But what can we do? I felt frustrated, ashamed, and helpless after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville turned deadly, and I knew I had to do something. Staying quiet in my comfortable Pacific Northwest life wasn’t an option for me. I wanted a very visual way to show my neighbors that I was taking a stand. I decided to design and print yard signs and car magnets that read, “Hate has no home in Gig Harbor. We reject racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia and white supremacy.” I printed extras and offered them to friends and neighbors. Spotting the signs around town and the car magnets on the road helps give me hope that the values we hold dear will remain steadfast in our small part of the world.
But small, everyday actions are likely more powerful than a public display on a yard sign or car magnet. Confronting white nationalist beliefs, speech and action head-on is the best way to assert that those values aren’t welcome. Challenging those who believe that one race is more deserving or valued than another will be difficult but it is necessary. We all need to step up, speak out and stand tall to prove that white nationalism has no home here.
Meredith Browand is a mother and activist who lives in Purdy.
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