Ferrai Pickett

Woman Who Was Target of Racially-Charged Letter Helps Spread Message of Hope

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A woman who was the target of a racist letter while working as a nanny in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood has used the experience to create buttons and other items that send a message of unity and hope in trouble times.

Ferrai Pickett was the target of that letter, sent to her employer in 2017. A group of moms in the area wrote to those employing Pickett, saying that she should be fired because she was black and that her presence was “an infestation in our community.”

Three years later, Pickett is creating buttons for people to wear as a symbol of unity.

“I want to give everyone the hope that has so desperately left this country,” she said. “When I would go on my walks I would see buttons and know that I’m safe.”

Pickett, who has also hosted a series of “Stand Up to Hate” play dates since the incident, has seen demand for the buttons soar in recent weeks amid increased protests and awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I’ve sent buttons to at least 14 or 15 different states in the U.S., and it’s just so amazing how many people see them and find one that resonates with them,” she said.

One of Ferrai’s buttons has become exceedingly popular, with two different hands of two different colors, interlocking their fingers in a show of unity.

“The buttons make people feel comfortable and safe and continue to spread the word of love, peace, unity and diversity,” she said. “That’s what we need right now.”

Pickett has been getting the word out through her Etsy page and on social media, and she hopes to create a lasting change that makes Chicago, and beyond, better.

“I hope that people are open-minded and having open and honest conversations so we can build communities,” she said.

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