Have you been seeing those signs around the towns, some in green and some in blue? They proclaim: “Hate Has no Place in SOMA” and “SOMA: We Stand Together.” This is South Orange and Maplewood’s answer to the hate flyers that were posted in Maplewood and South Orange last December. Our response was once again, “Not in OUR two towns!” This protestation was originally adopted by SOMA in 2016 in the midst of a period of prominent murders by police of unarmed or innocent black males such as Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Michael Brown and Eric Garner as well as the suspicious death of Sandra Bland.
On December 16, 2019, our beloved community awoke to messages of hate. We were not remiss in posting and declaring our abhorrence and disgust for what felt like an attack. Everyone from individuals to local organizations to elected officials posted their rejection of this hateful infiltration of our community and it was wonderful to witness such a united front. Yet some of us felt the need for something more coordinated. A call went out to local clergy and organizations to meet to determine what could be done as a community to declare war on hate. On December 18, 2019, the SOMA Against Hate Collective was born. Lisa Davis of the SOMA Action Racial Justice Committee crafted our statement which we share with pride (see below).
The Collective acted as quickly as possible to create the lawn signs mentioned at the top of this article. We owe a big debt of gratitude to Libby Clarke, a local graphic designer, who took time from her vacation to design the signs. We ordered 1,000 signs to start. On January 20, 2020, the South Orange-Maplewood Coalition on Race gave away 320 signs at their annual Martin Luther King Celebration. Lawn signs are still available at the following locations:
- Ethical Culture Society – 516 Prospect Street, Maplewood – 973-763-1905
- Kol Rina – 60 Valley Street, South Orange – 855-664-6926
- Morrow Memorial Methodist Church – 600 Ridgewood Rd, Maplewood – 973-763-7676
- Oheb Shalom Congregation – 170 Scotland Road, South Orange – 973-762-7067
- Prospect Presbyterian Church – 646 Prospect Street – 973-763-2090
- South Mountain YMCA – 13 Jefferson Avenue, Maplewood – 973-762-4145
- Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel 432 Scotland Road, South Orange – 973-763-4116
We invite all organizations and houses of worship in Maplewood and South Orange who share our mission to join the Collective (see statement below for contact info). Individuals, please show your support on our FB page SOMA Against Hate Collective, PM or email your contact information to be included among supporters of the Collective and individuals willing to come out in protest in the future if need be.
We’d like to continue to distribute free lawn signs and would be grateful for any donations. The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race is acting as fiscal agent for collective so donations to help defray costs can be made by check to the Community Coalition on Race, 516 Prospect Street, Maplewood NJ 07040 with the memo saying SOMA AHC Sign. Or on the website at https://www.communitycoalitiononrace.org/donate and indicate SOMA AHC sign in the comment field.