I live in Chilmark and have been part of a vigil that has taken place every morning at 10:30 since June 5 at Beetlebung Corner. The vigil began with a single black woman who had the courage to show up in protest of the black lives lost in our country due to system racism and oppression. The community has grown. We gather with our masks on at a respectful distance from one another. We kneel to honor those lives and we kneel to honor a democracy in the future that truly offers justice and equality to all.

Currently at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, there is an exhibit called “Making Change: Stories of Vineyard Activism, 1820-2020.” It traces the local actions by which Vineyarders have participated in national movements for social change. The Vineyard activists at the corner vigil have gathered and kneeled for 161 days. We are not naïve enough to believe that just because the Democrats won the White House in the Nov. 3 election, systemic racism and oppression is now a moot point, and neither should you. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, black people are more than three times as likely as white people to be killed during a police encounter.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in areas where racial and ethnic minority groups live, learn, work, play and worship. A variety of factors are underlying this disparity including: discrimination that can lead to chronic and toxic stress causing or impacting underlying health conditions, being uninsured, having limited health care access, being and essential worker and not having paid sick days, disproportional unemployment rates that may lead to greater risk of eviction and homelessness or sharing of housing, and more.

We will continue to kneel until Nov. 25. We welcome any Vineyard reporter or newspaper editor to join our community of activists who are part of a movement on the Island for social change here and nationally.

Amy Cody