Recently, a close friend of mine experienced something that appalled me and caused me to rethink the meaning of respect.
My friend Collin is a young, tall, good-looking man of color. He is married to Stacey, a petite, lovely white woman. Unimposing, articulate and well educated, Collin is currently pursuing his Ph.D. He is the father of 4; 3 biological children and 1 adopted son who is white.
Recently, Stacey shared an incident that happened when their family went to a restaurant they frequent. Their toddler, being, well, a toddler, was having a meltdown before their food arrived because he was hungry. In order to stave off further screams, Stacey asked Collin to go to the counter and get a cookie.
Collin didn’t have cash with him, so he pulled out his credit card to buy the $1.50 treat. The cashier asked for his i.d. He didn’t have his i.d. with him. It was in the car and it was pouring rain. The cashier proceeded to tell him that she would not sell him the cookie.
Thankfully, their food arrived shortly thereafter, so further meltdown was avoided. But Stacey wasn’t done.
Fully believing that she would not experience the same thing if she went to the cashier and attempted to purchase the cookie, Stacey, with Collin’s credit card in hand, approached the counter where the same cashier waited on her. She was able to buy the cookie with no problem.
But there would be a problem for that cashier as Stacey asked to speak to the manager.
To her credit, the manager was appalled and apologized profusely and said that was not the way they did business. But Collin and Stacey simply chalk this up as another example of experiences they have way too often.
Something needs to change.
So when I saw that Major League baseball player Bruce Maxwell took a knee during the National Anthem in Saturday’s Oakland Athletics game against the Texas Rangers, I saw his side. When NBC noted it on their Facebook page, I commented that one can love one’s country while not agreeing with everything they do. I actually thought Maxwell’s stance was very respectful. He had his hand and his cap over his heart and he was looking at the flag. He wasn’t disrespecting it in any way. He was acknowledging and bringing attention to the fact that things need to change. Click the link above and listen to his short statement. It’s very thoughtful.
Of course, by making my thoughts known in a pubic forum, I opened myself up to the haters. Although more than 100 people liked my comment, there were several who labeled me as “liberal” and “sick.” Which is totally laughable if you know me at all.
I love my country, but by no stretch of the imagination do I believe that everything going on is right and good. We’re always asking our famous people to use their platforms for good, so why, when some of them do, are they then vilified?
Blind nationalism isn’t loyalty. I have been married to my husband for more than 26 years. I’m loyal to him and I love him with all my heart, but I’m not ignorant enough to think that he has no faults. I wouldn’t be much of a wife if I didn’t encourage him to be the best version of himself that he can be. Does that mean I don’t respect him?
I want America to be the best version of herself that she can be. Does systemic racism need to be rooted out and destroyed? Do people need to be made aware of their prejudices and educated about how to rise above them? Do we all need to be more willing to lean in and listen to people’s stories?
Yes, to all of the above. That is what respect looks like. It’s not about a country and a flag. It’s about people and how they are treated by others.
In just my one little comment on Facebook, I became a target for haters to label me. It doesn’t feel good, but I know that they are speaking out of ignorance. Will I condescend to name calling myself? No. I will pray for them, because Jesus alone can bring light where there is darkness. And He has tasked us with shining that light ourselves. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16, New International Version, emphasis mine).
I will let my little light shine.
photo of the Outerbridge family courtesy of Stacey Outerbridge; cookies from bettycrocker.com; Bruce Maxwell from complex.com; candle from friendsofjustice.wordpress.com