Born from a hurtful incident, the “Love All” campaign aims to inform, and heal.
- Story and photos by Rachel Dangermond
Some claim the beads around the doll’s neck were also around the necks of other dolls and stuffed animals handed out, but certainly beads looped around a stuffed Sponge Bob neck looks very different from beads around the neck of a black slave doll.
While this incident rippled through our community, dividing some and uniting others, there was a cry from a small group to address what happened. It started with a public statement issued by The Arts, Hancock County, Smith & Lens and 100 Men Hall decrying the incident.
Then the Bay Ratz Marching Battery asked Mariah to ride with them on Lundi Gras. Next the 100 WOMEN DBA, an organization under the 100 Men Hall, invited Mariah to be Queen of their inaugural march with the Krewe of Real People, Next Generation on Fat Tuesday.
The feel-good glow of turning Mariah’s Mardi Gras experience into a positive was short-lived, as daily, she continued to be bullied at school by students after the incident.
Then the Bay St. Louis Police Department issued a news release on Facebook, saying investigators had found “no intent of hatred,” and no violation of state or city law. The department would turn over the information it gathered to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Like all good efforts, the LOVE ALL stickers sprang from the kitchen table organizing of women who could not sit back and wait for others to determine a path forward. The design is by Ann Madden, and they are a touchstone to use what happened as a catalyst to bring the community together and to shine a light on the blind spots that separate us.
So, at the end of the day, we all understand that this incident was not a one and done event, but instead represents a lifetime of incidents and slights that need to be addressed now. We can no longer mask in Southern politeness our need for real progress.
The stickers are being sold for a suggested $5 donation. The money will be used to help facilitate racial healing in our community. We have invited the Winter Institute to the 100 Men Hall to host a community dialogue where everyone has a chance to express their thoughts about this incident. The stickers and the dialogue are stepping stones to bring our community together through understanding and action.
The date for this first dialogue is currently on hold as we await the outcome of our response to the COVID 19 outbreak. While we are caught in this moment of social distancing, please bear in mind we belong to a unique community that has a long history of helping neighbors through troubled times. When we are able to safely gather again, let it be to learn how to Love All.
The following venues have the stickers available for purchase: 100 Men Hall, Align Massage Therapy & Yoga, Mockingbird Café, Smith & Lens and Studio Waveland.