In the midst of all the racial injustice in the country, our predominantly white neighborhood went out of their way to show us they care.

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mother, father, and two young daughters smiling on front porch
Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer A. Haynes

My family lives in a suburban area that’s largely white. We, along with many families, have been stressed-out dealing with COVID. My children went months without seeing their grandparents. We canceled birthday parties and other celebrations. And then the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd became headline news.

For us as a Black family, these deaths brought up emotions that my neighbors didn’t feel. We watched neighborhood social-media conversations that made us worry—afraid of being profiled. My husband wouldn’t walk alone, only with our children, hoping that people wouldn’t see him as threatening. We never said anything to our neighbors.

One day we came home to a red balloon shaped like a heart taped to the front of our door, with a note that said, “You are loved.” It was such a simple thing, but it meant the world to us.

The same day, a local church held a prayer service in a nearby park to pray for justice and peace in our country. I wasn’t going to go, but at the last minute I decided to attend with my 3-year-old. The kind words that we received after the service left me pretty emotional—but this time in a good way.

And since then, other neighbors have reached out just to let us know they want us to feel welcome, value our presence, and are open to listening and learning.

Love can be found in small gestures; what can be insignificant to one person might mean so much to another.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine’s December 2020 issue as “The Act of Kindness That Touched Our Family This Year: The Neighbors Stepped Up.” Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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