CHATHAM – If she was back home in New York City rather than sheltering at her parents’ house due to the pandemic, Abby Dykens would “1,000 percent” have been marching with protesters in Manhattan and her Greenpoint neighborhood.
“I would be there every day, if I could,” she said last Wednesday following a vigil that she organized on Lighthouse Beach in support of the Black Lives Matters protesters around the nation. “This is the current pandemic in the nation.”
About 40 people attended the vigil at Lighthouse Beach, which Dykens organized at the last minute. “I would have been happy if two people or 22 people came,” she said.
Following a period of silence, those attending the vigil related stories about racism and racial incidents that they'd encountered, many of them stressing their desire for a wider dialog on the topic. Julie Dykens said when her daughter Abby was young she sometimes slept over the home of friends who lived off-Cape. Her friends' mother's partner was Black and would sometimes drop off or pickup the kids. He was almost always stopped by police wondering why he had three blonde kids in the car, she said.
Margaret Fitzgerald said she attended as a “white ally in support of the Black community right on Cape Cod.” She said it was important for both year-round and seasonal residents to understand that many people of color support the foundations of the town by working in kitchens, hotels and in other support services, often unseen. Chatham “would not be without them,” she said.
Racism is often unspoken and unrecognized here, Abby Dykens said. “I wanted this to be a larger discussion” about those issues.
“Our town doesn't necessarily always come together as a community, and I thought given the situation, it was a perfect time to bring people together in solidarity and unity against such a tragic occurrence,” she said, referring to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
“This is just one step that will hopefully start a movement on Cape Cod, whether it's in Chatham or goes to Wellfleet or Provincetown or anywhere else,” she said. “It's a conversation that needs to be happening.”