I’ve seen one of these cards personally. It was 1995 in Ohio.
It was a Sunday morning and I’d just completed the second service at one of the churches I served as a pastor.
The day prior, I’d performed a wedding ceremony between two friends, one happened to be a Black man and his fiancee, a white woman.
As parishioners were leaving church that Sunday, a man came up to me after all had left and handed me the card explaining this was a warning for what I’d done the day before. He said I should know better than to perform a marriage between people of different races, especially Black and White.
I recall the shock of it, then the fear, and then the rage that I felt. I tore the card up in front of him and told him to leave. He warned me to watch my back and that lots of accidents can occur in a rural area, especially at night. He reminded me that I sometimes worked nights at either that particular church or the even more remote one just up the road.
Seeing this card again brings up those memories. The attempt at intimidation.
I’ve seen and stared into the face of hate. Unadulterated, contemptible, and all too American grown hate.
I’ve passed places in the South where they don’t even hide it. Places like Laurens, SC where a shop across from the courthouse brazenly displays the name “White Man’s Shop” and has a mannequin wearing the robe of the Klan.
Living in the South, I’ve had my children hear racist epithets hurled at them by the parents of classmates and those who had children in the same daycare they attended. I’ve heard them thrown at me as well. Things like “Chink lover” and asking why I didn’t adopt “one of my own kind.”
If anyone questions why I never wanted to return to the States after having lived in Canada, this is a major reason. I saw the writing on the wall during the 2016 election. I saw more and more individuals then as I see now around the country who have become more brazen and public with their hate.
I’ve watched the last 4 years of an administration led by an individual who espouses and encourages hatred, prejudice, division, and racism. I heard it when he claimed there were “good people on both sides” after the white supremacists marched on Charlottesville. I heard him when he told them to “Stand by and stand down,” rather than condemn them. Sure, he offered a half-hearted comment of being against them when asked by a reporter, but his actions speak louder than his words.
It causes me fear.
It causes me sadness.
It causes me anxiety.
It causes me anger.
Fear for my children and for people who are not white or who stand up against these horrible individuals and groups.
Sadness in that there are people who feel that way now.
Anxiety as I know there is somewhat of a target on my back and the backs of those who stand against the hate.
Anger in a way that motivates me to stand against them even more.
We cannot and must not allow this to continue. It matters not whether it is the Klan or any other white supremacist group or individual, they must be stopped. Silenced. Rendered flaccid in their rhetoric and actions.
We do this by standing up against them.
We do this by not being silent.
We do this by removing elected officials who espouse racist and divisive beliefs.
We do this by never giving up nor giving in.
We do this by protesting, peacefully when at all possible, but at the same time not becoming doormats for them to trample upon nor silence.