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Advice from my 7-year-old son about ‘Black Lives Matter’

A Black Lives Matter sign hangs at a private institution where Don's son goes to summer camp. (Don O'Neill, KIRO Radio)

My 7-year-old son has been going to this one summer camp for years, but I noticed something different when I dropped him off there the other day. It was right on the door. You couldn’t miss it. A sign proclaiming “Black Lives Matter.”

It stopped me. It’s a sign that stops a lot of people in their tracks. So I took a photo of it and I posted it on The Ron and Don Show Facebook page to see how others reacted to it.

RELATED: King, Pierce County Sheriffs on “Black Lives Matter”

Some people wrote that the sign was segregationist at best or that it is inflammatory. A person said we need to teach tolerance and that goes both ways. A lot of people wrote “All Lives Matter.” Some people wrote me to say that I’m allowing my son to be raised by socialist pigs.

I’ve seen some of the staff there with shirts that refer to Black Lives Matter and I’ve seen some drawings on the wall from the kids there that state the same. The teachers at this private summer camp work in Seattle’s black community. Some of them volunteer their time in the area where Charleena Lyles was killed by Seattle police officers. Some of them know Charleena’s kids. They don’t just have signs, they live it.

Turning away from Facebook, I decided to ask my son what he thought about this sign. What did it mean to a 7-year-old boy?

“Daddy,” he said. “It means that people who haven’t felt important, it just lets them know they are important.”

I asked if police officers’ lives are important. He said yes. I asked if his classmates’ lives are important – they’re all white. He said, “Yes, daddy.” I asked if there was anything else he wanted to ask me, he said, “Do I still get to go swimming today?”

When I really think about it, I can’t believe how divisive just this sign is — on Facebook or anywhere else.

Of all the people who commented on our Facebook page, I liked what Trish wrote best:

It’s easy to turn a blind eye and stay in our comfort zones. As one who has grown up with the benefit of white privilege, if the Black Lives Matter sign makes someone uncomfortable then it’s doing its job. It’s starting a conversation. People are saying that all lives matter. Of course that’s true, in theory. But until we put action behind the words and practice what we preach, unfortunately, we will continue to need groups like this to stand up for those who need it. I’m not naïve. I understand that there are some people who use that banner for nefarious reasons. But the important thing is that our kids learn to have important conversations that bring change.

Signs don’t scare me and I don’t want them to scare my son either.

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