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Lifestyle

Photographer Captures Precious Moment During Jersey City Rally

Friends Cleo, left, and Aubree play during a peaceful protest in Jersey City. Photo Credit: Wendy Setzer
Wendy Setzer of Jersey City. Photo Credit: Mark Lipsky

Wendy Setzer was wandering through Pedestrian Plaza during Jersey City's peaceful protest last Tuesday when her eyes were drawn to two toddlers.

One girl is black. The other is white. Both appear blissfully unaware of the reason their parents brought them to the rally that day.

It was the first time the girls and their moms had ever met. But they were all fast friends.

The best part? Setzer got it all on camera.

"What made it a great shot is there are people looming in the background, adults with masks on, and  these kids oblivious to what's going on and enjoying each other's company," said Setzer, who raised her own children in Jersey City.

"They have no awareness that they're different. They're just friends -- it's so simple."

Cleo, 16 months, and Aubree, 1 year old, began babbling to each other after Cleo's mom, Nicole Jones, introduced herself to Aubree's mom, Xavier Miller.

"The girls instantly connected," Miller said. "They hugged one another, clapped, babbled and shared a red rose. 

"The best part of it all is that my daughter made a friend."

Both Miller and Jones agreed that race has never been a factor in any of their girls' friendships, nor their own.

It wasn't until after the moms returned home from the protest that people began tagging them in Setzer's photo on Instagram.

Jones said she's grateful to Setzer for capturing the precious moment at her daughter's first protest, "during an important time when this country finally quashed racism (one can hope)," Jones said (story continues below photo).

Nicole Jones and Cleo, 16 months

Nicole Jones

The event allowed her and Cleo to meet dozens of other Jersey City families on a similar mission: "To show their support and compassion for the black community," she said.

The photo can teach the U.S. a valuable lesson as the country continues on it's plight to end racism, Setzer said.

"We're fighting and then here are these two kids playing," she said. "Prejudice is not natural. It is carefully taught."

Miller vowed she and Aubree's father will continue to teach her cultural competence -- not to see race and encourage her to have friends outside of her race, she said. 

"If we learn and continue to raise our children in love, they can create a world where generations, present and future can express equality," Miller said.

Aubree with mom, Xavier Miller, and dad, Decundi Watkins.

Xavier Miller

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