Neighbors: Young neighbor jumps in to help make needed change

  • Carlie Kempf wears the T-shirt she designed to help make people aware of the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Paul Franz

Published: 6/28/2020 12:58:55 PM

Good morning, neighbor!

I’m sure most if not all of you will agree that it has been quite a year, so far. I welcomed 2020, thinking I was going to make this my “best year yet.” Well, the joke’s on me.

The pandemic hit in March, and though I don’t happen to know many people who have tested positive, and know only one person who got really sick with COVID-19, but thank goodness recovered, I have felt deeply for those who have lost loved ones.

Then on May 25 — my daughter’s and my grandson Drew’s birthdays — I watched, like everyone else, in horror as 46-year-old George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minn., after being pinned to the ground by an officer who pressed a knee into his neck while three other officers did nothing to stop him. He had allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.

More than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, though, that terrible tragedy has brought attention to police violence against Black people nationally and internationally, and that’s a great thing. I think we can all agree that change is long overdue.

And while I’ve been encouraged and inspired over the past month, I spoke with a neighbor this past weekend, Carlie Kempf, a 17-year-old senior — she just finished her junior year remotely — at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, and felt for the first time in a long time that there’s more hope than ever. It is young adults like Carlie who, I believe, are going to lead the charge to change.

As Black Lives Matter began protests shortly after George Floyd’s death, Carlie had an idea. An artist, she decided to create a design for BLM and post it on Instagram.

“My friend Ella’s mom called and said she wanted to make T-shirts for me and my family,” Carlie told me. “My stepmom jumped in and helped me create a website where I could sell the T-shirts, so that I could use the proceeds to donate to Black Lives Matter organizations. I really want to give back.”

Carlie said as a young Black woman, she has experienced inequality and prejudice throughout her life, even if it hasn’t always been overt.

“This whole movement means something to me, because I am Black,” she said. “I feel like I have to help raise awareness.”

Carlie said she was adopted by two white parents and has two white younger siblings.

“It has even been difficult for them to notice certain things,” she said. “They haven’t always noticed how being Black has affected me. A lot that I notice goes unnoticed by them.”

For instance, Carlie was in Gettysburg, Penn., with her family and noticed that there were Confederate flags everywhere, which family members appeared not to notice, she said, even though they made her uncomfortable.

“Until this year, I didn’t say much about those types of things,” she said. “I kind of felt they wouldn’t understand, but I realized maybe they wouldn’t mind listening, so I started talking, and they listened.”

Carlie would love it if others start listening. She would also love for people to purchase a T-shirt — a Black fist in the middle of the shirt with flowers around it — and help her cause.

“I wrote the names of victims of police brutality in and around the flowers,” she said. “I express myself in my art.”

I found Carlie to be a caring, intelligent, intuitive young woman who I believe will make a difference in the world. At such a young age she has struggled through a pandemic — her school was closed and she had to finish her junior year without the company of her friends and classmates — and she has experienced some of the things none of us would want to experience, and are just now really coming to understand.

“I did email the principal at one point to set up a time when the entire school could meet virtually to talk about different issues,” she said. “Everyone who wanted to joined the virtual meeting and unloaded some of their feelings. That’s something we would have done at school had it been open.”

I guess if there’s one thing I’d like to remind everyone it would be to never underestimate our younger neighbors. They are our future and they are a lot more concerned and on top of things than we imagine.

I’d like to say “thank you” to Carlie. She and her peers are the change we want to see in our world. Let’s make sure we encourage and support them in all they do.

To see what Carlie posted on Instagram, visit: bit.ly/2BMXVE2.

To order T-shirts, visit: bit.ly/3g7QW7w for black shirts and bit.ly/31lqgw8 for colored shirts.

Senior Reporter Anita Fritz grew up in Franklin County after moving from Spokane, Wash., when she was just a few weeks old. She covers Greenfield and does regional and COVID-19 reporting for the Greenfield Recorder.Good morning, neighbor!

I’m sure most if not all of you will agree that it has been quite a year, so far. I welcomed 2020, thinking I was going to make this my “best year yet.” Well, the joke’s on me.

The pandemic hit in March, and though I don’t happen to know many people who have tested positive, and know only one person who got really sick with COVID-19, but thank goodness recovered, I have felt deeply for those who have lost loved ones.

Then on May 25 — my daughter’s and my grandson Drew’s birthdays — I watched, like everyone else, in horror as 46-year-old George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minn., after being pinned to the ground by an officer who pressed a knee into his neck while three other officers did nothing to stop him. He had allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.

More than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, though, that terrible tragedy has brought attention to police violence against Black people nationally and internationally, and that’s a great thing. I think we can all agree that change is long overdue.

And while I’ve been encouraged and inspired over the past month, I spoke with a neighbor this past weekend, Carlie Kempf, a 17-year-old senior — she just finished her junior year remotely — at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, and felt for the first time in a long time that there’s more hope than ever. It is young adults like Carlie who, I believe, are going to lead the charge to change.

As Black Lives Matter began protests shortly after George Floyd’s death, Carlie had an idea. An artist, she decided to create a design for BLM and post it on Instagram.

“My friend Ella’s mom called and said she wanted to make T-shirts for me and my family,” Carlie told me. “My stepmom jumped in and helped me create a website where I could sell the T-shirts, so that I could use the proceeds to donate to Black Lives Matter organizations. I really want to give back.”

Carlie said as a young Black woman, she has experienced inequality and prejudice throughout her life, even if it hasn’t always been overt.

“This whole movement means something to me, because I am Black,” she said. “I feel like I have to help raise awareness.”

Carlie said she was adopted by two white parents and has two white younger siblings.

“It has even been difficult for them to notice certain things,” she said. “They haven’t always noticed how being Black has affected me. A lot that I notice goes unnoticed by them.”

For instance, Carlie was in Gettysburg, Penn., with her family and noticed that there were Confederate flags everywhere, which family members appeared not to notice, she said, even though they made her uncomfortable.

“Until this year, I didn’t say much about those types of things,” she said. “I kind of felt they wouldn’t understand, but I realized maybe they wouldn’t mind listening, so I started talking, and they listened.”

Carlie would love it if others start listening. She would also love for people to purchase a T-shirt — a Black fist in the middle of the shirt with flowers around it — and help her cause.

“I wrote the names of victims of police brutality in and around the flowers,” she said. “I express myself in my art.”

I found Carlie to be a caring, intelligent, intuitive young woman who I believe will make a difference in the world. At such a young age she has struggled through a pandemic — her school was closed and she had to finish her junior year without the company of her friends and classmates — and she has experienced some of the things none of us would want to experience, and are just now really coming to understand.

“I did email the principal at one point to set up a time when the entire school could meet virtually to talk about different issues,” she said. “Everyone who wanted to joined the virtual meeting and unloaded some of their feelings. That’s something we would have done at school had it been open.”

I guess if there’s one thing I’d like to remind everyone it would be to never underestimate our younger neighbors. They are our future and they are a lot more concerned and on top of things than we imagine.

I’d like to say “thank you” to Carlie. She and her peers are the change we want to see in our world. Let’s make sure we encourage and support them in all they do.

To see what Carlie posted on Instagram, visit: bit.ly/2BMXVE2.

To order T-shirts, visit: bit.ly/3g7QW7w for black shirts and bit.ly/31lqgw8 for colored shirts.

Senior Reporter Anita Fritz grew up in Franklin County after moving from Spokane, Wash., when she was just a few weeks old. She covers Greenfield and does regional and COVID-19 reporting for the Greenfield Recorder.


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