By Paul Green
We are coming up on the one year mark of the death of George Floyd, and the video of his strangulation entered most or our homes and quickly generated responses worldwide. Culver City showed its’ support with a variety of events like rallies, marches and forums to highlight the issue of race and racism.
To this day throughout the city, manly residents still have the Black Lives Matter signs in their windows and on their yards. On more than one occasion, I’ve done a double take at the sight of these signs in some areas where one least expected to see them.
But long before, in fact many years prior to the city and nationwide movement, Michelle Weiner was one of the first people, to my knowledge in all of Culver City to boldly display her BLM sign on her front lawn.
Ironically, I met Weiner at a yard sale in her neighborhood and it was shortly after that I noticed her display of support and a person of color; I was intrigued and even more interested in her motivation for having the sign front and center on her property.
Weiner remembers putting the sign up in response to the deaths of Trevon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice. She, like many others, was moved to bring awareness to an issue that is so wrong in our society.
She said that she initially had some minor concerns about the retaliation the sign might cause, but the importance of raising awareness for outweighed any problems or issues people might have, so she had to put it up.
According to Weiner, many white people want to believe that they are “colorblind”, and don’t want to talk about the issue of race and the injustices of it even to other whites. However, at some point, someone decided to express their opinion by glueing a cardboard with the words “All Lives” over the words “Black Lives.”
The response was not all negative though, as a neighbor asked where she could get a sign and to this day also has one up.
Weiner also mentioned instilling in her sons the concept of white privilege and how things and life in general would be different for them if they were kids of color. She also described participating in the various events including marches to protest police killings of unarmed Black people that were held and continue to be held in the city.
She feels that it’s important and necessary to amplify the young people’s voices who organized the marches and rallies.
For many years, she has participated in the monthly gatherings of a group called Race Relay to discuss the issue of the adversity caused by racism in our society. Personally, I have to admit that it’s because of Weiner. that I too have been involved with the Race Relay organization and meetings for the last four years.
She also regularly attends and speaks at the city council meetings to address the issues and concerns of inequities in our city’s policies including the police department. She’s a member of the Culver City for more Homes which focuses on the disparities in housing in the city which was once a sundown town.
One reason that the struggles of minorities resonates with Weiner is because, in a way, she is a minority herself as a Jewish woman.
The Jewish community was not only able to understand and relate to the oppressive actions against African Americans, because of its history of oppression, and also knew the importance and significance of going a step further and taking action.
She stated her involvement as solidarity with the people of color and those young people who were putting their words into action by organizing events.
Weiner acknowledged the deep divisions in our country and struggles in our own city. She feels that these divisions may get worse before they get better.
“It’s difficult to look at but you have to look at it. If you don’t, there won’t be reconciliation or way to provide reparations and reparations are definitely what’s needed.”