Today I had a difficult conversation with a man in our community at Joe’s. He is white. I have to identify his color, because as we stood next to his truck, an African American woman who is also part of our community pulled into the parking space next to us. Her window was open, and she teased that she was going to hit us with her car. He pointed to his confederate flag license plate and said to me, “She’d wanna run over me for sure if she noticed that.”
I spoke up about his unkindness, and he defended himself. Of course, the claim was the common statement that it only represents his southern pride. To which I asked him why he’d imagine she would have a problem with it then.
The rest of the conversation was me reminding him that at Joe’s we treat one another the way we want to be treated. He debated with me from every angle. All arguments I’ve heard before about the “real” reason for the civil war, and black people being too “whiny and ignorant” to know what the flag represents. How “they” just need to get over it. I appealed to his own claim of being a Christian and Jesus' call to Love One Another.
Finally, he said, “I’m really glad Trump is now our president, ‘cause he’s gonna put blacks back where they belong and kick every Muslim out of our country. He’s gonna make America great again.”
The last time I posted something that blamed Donald Trump, people defended him, said it has nothing to do with Trump, and reminded me that people need to be held responsible for their *own* actions. To that I say, "Of course." But where I live, racists are giving Trump the credit for their open bigotry. Somehow, somewhere, they got the idea that Donald Trump agrees with them.
It all seems so surreal to me. How did we get here? The most merciful prayer I can muster (in moments when my anger subsides) is: “Father, forgive them. They know not what they’ve done.”