The rain held off Saturday as 150 people came to the Hyannis bandstand to listen to people share their personal experiences of racism on Cape Cod.
Chandler Alves, a woman in her 20s, said her friends, schools, and community have constantly made her feel different.
“Growing up, my friends would often say, ‘Chandler is an “n word” because of her dad, but she acts white,’” she said.
She said her friends would say, “You’re not annoying because you don’t act Black,” and “You don’t look Black; you’re pretty.”
“Weekly comments on my skin tone and my Black family were the butt of the joke for a lot of my white friends,” she said.
Tamora Israel of Dennis Port said she gets followed through stores all the time.
“I’m tired of having my intelligence met by surprise,” she said. “I am tired of people looking at me as though my Black is an offense to them. I’m tired of not being listened to.”
She said for some people, being a person of color on the Cape can be extremely isolating and lonely.
Others talked about past encounters with police and about the repression of Wampanoag culture.
Philomena Gilbert, president of the Cape Verdean Club of Falmouth, said she came to listen and support friends.
“People think there’s no problem on the Cape, but there is a problem on the Cape,” she said. “So I came to hear the speakers and see what else we can do to make it a better place.”
Brian O’Malley made the trip from Provincetown. He’s the liaison to the Barnstable County Human Rights Advisory Commission from the Assembly of Delegates.
“We’ve got to listen,” he said. “We’ve got to be talking to each other. We can’t pretend that this is not a problem — that racism and police overreaction is not a problem on the Cape. I’ve heard it from too many people — too many neighbors.”
Cape Cod Voices, a new coalition of people of color and allies, hosted the event.
Members said the time is now to acknowledge racism and eliminate it.