As many as 1,000 people turned out July 25 in the small city of Shoreline, Washington just north of Seattle, to stand with Black youth and reject racist violence. The protest was organized by Black Lives Matter Shoreline in less than a week in response to an incident in which 13-year old BLM activist Kailyn Jordan was threatened with lynching by a white woman in Shoreline. In addition to uplifting Black youth, a stated goal of the event was for Shoreline neighbors to visibly take a stand against racism.
Liberation News spoke with participants to find what brought them out. Across the board, participants wanted to take a stand against racism, support Kailyn Jordan in particular and the overall movement for Black lives.
Linda from Shoreline stated, “Its important to let our voices be heard and let our actions speak for what is right and just.”
Barry showed up early with a friend to help set up. He told Liberation News, “Like everyone else, I’m here to support Black Lives Matter, and oppose social injustice in the 21st century. It’s horrible we have to go through this. I myself am relatively privileged though I experienced discrimination growing up in Hawaii, nothing like what Black Lives Matter is about though.”
Emma said, “I’m sad and frustrated about [the attack on Kailyn Jordan]. It’s a sad feeling of ‘again?’ But it’s amazing how quickly people came together and organized so well.”
A local middle school teacher said, “A lot of these young people are my students and I want to support them.”
Jeremy from nearby Lake Forest Park shared, “If people who care don’t show up, what’s the point? If I can’t show up, how can I say I support this movement? People Kailyn’s age should be able to engage with the community and not be accosted in 2020.”
Rally uplifts Shoreline Black youth
The rally kicked off with opening words from Lynette Jordan, Kailyn’s aunt. She explained that Kailyn was the principal organizer of the event. The second speaker was Dawn Jordan, Kailyn’s mother who has long been active in anti-bias work in King County. She explained that this one incident was not an isolated incident, that many other Black and Brown families in Shoreline have experienced other incidents over the years and handled it alone and in silence. “Today we are making it loud and clear, no one will face these acts in silence and alone. Enough is enough!”
Dawn Jordan also provided an important introduction to the history of redlining and housing discrimination in Shoreline. She read the language of the racially restrictive covenant of the Ridgecrest platte (where the protest was taking place) and explained that the discriminatory language in real estate titles was rigorously enforced until at least 1960.
Dawn went on to explain that her grandfather, who was able to “pass,” bought the family home in Shoreline in 1950 at a time when it was a “sundown” area.
“Today’s outpouring of love won’t change the past, but today is about breaking the cycle of exclusionary behavior in Shoreline. We must ensure that this showing is not a moment but a movement to make sure Black people feel they belong here. This neighborhood is ours!”
Black Lives Matter Shoreline co-founder Darnesha Weary roused the crowd. Building on what Dawn Jordan had taught about the history of housing discrimination in Shoreline, Weary proclaimed, “Shoreline’s not all white by accident, it’s by design!”
Weary urged the mostly white participants to continue to take a stand. “When you see it happen in the neighborhood, you will say ‘No more!'”
Kailyn Jordan, addressed the crowd. She opened her remarks by saying, “On this day, Emmett Till would have been 79.”
Speaking of the racist treatment faced by Black youth, Kailyn said, “The people who tear us down don’t know what they are missing. We are going to change the world even if it’s starting small with our own community. The purpose is bigger than me. We can only fix the world together.”
Kailyn alluded to the idea held by some that racism is only a problem for Black people. She asked how many people in the crowd had a friend who was different from them in some way. “If you love your friends then this is your problem too.”
Mikayla Jordan, co-founder of BLM Shoreline and a rising senior at Shorecrest High, spoke of her many accomplishments including a 3.9 GPA. “Yet despite all my accomplishments, I am a walking target.” She implored the crowd to be motivated by systems of oppression and the school to prison pipeline.
The march kicked off and made a loop through the neighborhood, as some neighbors came out to clap and show their support. The crowd stopped for a few minutes at the site of the incident, and Kailyn spoke. “We are going to break this racist system!” she exclaimed.
The march returned to Paramount Park for additional youth speakers from Shoreline and nearby Edmonds, as well as a closing prayer from Indigenous women.