A 15-year-old artist received an anonymous letter asking her to remove her Black Lives Matter artwork displayed at her home in Lake Oswego. Nandita Kumar painted ‘Silence supports police violence’ on the window of the house last month.
The letter read: “Dear Neighbor, We want to come home to a beautiful street where neighbors care and support one another. We have three homes on our street that are trying to sell for the best price possible. Your sign is driving down interest to live on this street, hence our property values suffer (including yours).”
The neighbor also wrote, “We feel you’ve made your statement and respectfully request you remove it and save your political viewpoint for inside your home.”
The letter has been widely circulated on social media since the artist’s sister shared it on Twitter.
Under the Twitter name Divya she wrote that in sending the letter the neighbor placed “property value over Black lives.”
Kumar said she painted the artwork to deal with the sadness and anger she felt after the police killing of George Floyd.
“It just feels so insensitive over house prices, come on,” said Julián Jaramillo, who lives nearby in the Lake Oswego community. “I hate that they got the letter, and I hate that we live in a community… that feels they’re entitled to ask for somebody to remove and change their point of view just because the house up the street is for sale. I mean, that doesn’t make any sense to me.” He said the letter prompted him to put up his own Black Lives Matter sign at his home.
The city of Lake Oswego made its stance on the matter clear, saying in a Twitter post: “We stand in solidarity with this family.”
Although her family was initially concerned that leaving the artwork up would prompt retaliation from the sender of the letter, they eventually supported her decision to leave the sign in the window. Kumar plans to continue protesting and engaging in conversations about race in her community.
“Even if one person in Lake Oswego or this area feels a little bit less alone, I think that’ll be enough for me,” Kumar said. “This is happening to a lot of people of color, and they don’t have to feel as alone as I did for the past few years. They do have the community, no matter how small.”