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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” -MLK Jr.

Last night we went to Cold Stone for some ice cream with some friends for a double date. The sign on the door said only 6 customers were allowed in the store at a time. There were already four ordering when we arrived so we waited for two of them to leave before going in. We stood outside until there were only two customers left then went and got in line. A moment later, a white woman came in behind us. A black woman in front of us said to her,

“Read the sign, only six.”

The white woman pretended not to hear her. The black woman repeated herself to the white woman louder this time adding more direct language.

The white woman told her to mind her own business while the black woman made the point that the ice cream shop had made those rules and she needed to respect their rules if she was going to use their service.

My friends and I were sandwiched in between these two women. We noticed the lovely Hispanic ladies scooping the ice cream who were starting to panic at the escalating situation. None of them knew that one of us was a police officer. One of the workers told us she had never had to deal with anything like this before and didn’t know what to do. The officer with us reassured her and told her she was doing a great job and not to worry as he let the situation play out.

At this point the two women were screaming profanities and threatening each other. The shift manager came out to ask them both to stop fighting or leave but she was ignored as it escalated. At one point the white woman said,

“Shut up! I hate black people!”

The black woman approached the white woman and whispered in her face to come outside and make her shut up.

Initially, I felt the black woman was justified and thought the white woman was disrespectful but when both women were filled with rage and hatred for each other, neither of them seemed justified.

I was impacted this week by a viral video of a sweet black man speaking softly on camera in response to George Floyd’s death telling people random things about himself showing his beautiful humanity and our commonalities. I would have defended the black woman to the end if she had responded like him.

The country is enraged for all of the wrongfully killed black people at the hands of white law enforcement and everyone seems to be picking sides, but who are we fighting? Racism is like terrorism, it doesn’t have obvious buildings that can be destroyed. When we target police departments and police officers, we are not only targeting a wide variety of people who agree with us and those who don’t but we target ourselves since we will have to pay the taxes to repair the damage.

Are we fighting the local governments at the state capitals in order to force them to force us to treat each other fairly? I’m not sure how that will work any better than the shift manager at Cold Stone who was blatantly ignored by the enraged women. The government may have the power to change the actions and punishments for police officers but they don’t have the power to change hearts or minds. We need to do that individually.

Self Test: If you walked into that shop as the 7th person and a black woman in line told you to go outside and wait, would you have been self aware enough to realize she was right, apologize and be self disciplined enough to not get offended, be humble enough to admit you were wrong and wait outside for a few minutes?

We could all individually solve this with personal self awareness and self discipline. In both the ice cream shop and the country, I’ve seen a major lack of it on both sides.

What is the right way to fight for a valid cause? When people do have legitimate issues sometimes they do need to fight for what’s right. How do they do that? Many have suggested that destroying property is valid to show that people are more important than property. I’ll buy that. It has historical precedence, but is this being done currently without hate? Maybe in some instances. Are the people violently rioting and looting inspiring us all to change for the better or escalating the rage?

I want a side to fight for in this because it is clear that there IS a problem that needs real answers, but I find myself stuck in the middle because both sides seem to be filled with hate.

I don’t know what happened after we left the ice cream shop, but the white woman had only one other white woman with her and the black woman had two black men waiting outside. If we assume sheer physical power wins, there would have been no contest. Is that what it will come to for this country? Another civil war?

“Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” – MLK Jr.

Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was not only martyred as a prophet of God but was assassinated as a presidential candidate in June of 1844 when the election was scheduled for November of that same year. One of Joseph Smith’s presidential platforms (predating Abraham Lincoln) was the abolition of slavery. Joseph’s idea was to require all slaves to be freed, but to provide plots of unclaimed US land to slave owners in order for them to release their slaves. He was murdered by an angry mob before he could hope to present that peaceful resolution to the slavery he abhorred.

Collectively we didn’t take that route. We decided to go with a bloody civil war instead. Those wounds may have never completely healed. Maybe this time we can choose to be an ally in the cause of racial injustice with better means to solve problems than hatred and bloodshed.