“In about 10 minutes I’m gonna be back and you better be f***ing gone,” a white man in a lime green polo shirt shouts at Rob Bliss.
“I mean weren’t you scared he was going to come back?” I ask him. “Yeah, I mean not going to lie, I was on the lookout for a khaki Camry after that,” Bliss says, laughing.
Bliss’ “Holding A Black Lives Matter Sign in America’s Most Racist Town” video may be a mere 2 minutes and 18 seconds, but the footage of Americans shouting “White pride worldwide!”, “What about white lives?” and dubbing Black Lives Matter as the “next thing to ISIS,” has a lasting impact on all its viewers.
The footage starts with 31-year-old Bliss, a video content creator, and director, holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign underneath a billboard that reads, “White Pride Radio For The Family” with a red cross on it. Inspired by an article he had read about an elderly couple silently protesting in support of BLM, Bliss decided to document the result of him holding a Black Lives Matter sign in Harrison Arkansas, a town 15 miles east of the KKK headquarters.
“This couple was in rural Arizona and apparently, it didn’t take long until people started shouting obscenities and giving the finger and I thought… That’s a video! To see that, to experience that… that’s a video. Once I got into it, I decided to go to the most racist town in America,” he tells me.
Not only did Bliss’ sign make him stand out amongst Harrison’s civilians, but so did his mask because hey let’s not forget, racism isn’t the only prevalent pandemic going around this country. “No one was wearing a mask,” he says, “The people weren’t, the cashier at Aldi wasn’t. I was in the minority.”
When I ask him what scared him most during the project, Bliss does mention the cars swerving to hit him or the thought of the man in the Camry coming back to kill him, but the scariest thing was the way people would treat him, “They treated me like I was lost or confused. A lot of people would talk to me like I was the black sheep that needed help, that I was playing for the wrong team, being a white person holding up this sign. It was deeply concerning.”
The alarming video ends with a little girl, her face blurred out for her protection, discreetly handing over a note to Bliss. “I don’t think her parents know she did that,” he says.
The note read, “Ignore the haters. You’re being peaceful. What you’re doing is good. Just a friendly reminder. Don’t give up hope,” the symbolic reminder Bliss and viewers need from the next generation that now, more than ever, we must keep fighting the good fight.