I’ve seen so many horrible posts since the election about an individual being attacked (verbally or physically) by someone hateful, and a bystander stepping in to help. From the very first day, I knew I’d be ready. I’d keep a close watch for people around me in need, and I’d step in to help that person without hesitation.
Instead of seeing others in need, my experience has been this: I’ve been mistaken for a hate supporter THREE times. Just since November 8th, I’ve had people in public mutter something like, “Just wait til January 20th, and we won’t have to put up with these [insert group name here] anymore.” The groups have included everything from immigrants to “lazy welfare” n***ers, right to my face.
Each time, I’ve fired back on the individual and hopefully put him in his place. Just last night, it was a Lowe’s employee who couldn’t find the cutting tool he needed to help me with a piece of piping. He said, “Well, the problem is every night about thirty minutes before closing, the place fills up with Mexicans and they steal everything that isn’t nailed down.” I snatched the piece of piping from him and just said, “Wow.”
I went straight to the front and reported him. The manager wasn’t available, but the young woman whom I spoke with was horrified. She promised she would mention it to the manager, and then here’s where she stepped in it: “He shouldn’t have said something like that, for all he knows, you’re married to a Mexican!”
As if THAT is the reason it was wrong? Not because these are human beings but because I (the white lady) might be offended?
I leaned in close and said, “Pass THIS along to the manager…he should be far more worried that I *might* be married to someone from corporate.”
But it left me asking myself a very important question: WHY am I giving off the impression that I would be in support of racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc? What is it about my mannerisms, my words, the look on my face when I’m not even mad, the way I dress or the way I stand while looking at the shelves…what is it that makes me look like someone who does not have love in her heart? More importantly, how are people supposed to look to me as a friendly face in a crisis if other people think I look like a bigot?
I’ll admit that I inwardly dismissed the “safety pin” when people started sharing it, not because I thought it was ridiculous but because too often, we change our Facebook profile pictures or slap a car magnet on our vehicles and think we’ve done enough. It’s the same reason I don’t typically wear a cross necklace; if my wardrobe accessories are the only thing that lets you know I’m a Christian, then I’ve failed at being one.
It’s certainly given me a lot to think about, especially how others–from victims of hate crimes to just the every day citizen around me who needed God’s love today–see me.