Wait, he said what?!

After dropping my older daughter at school, my youngest and I went down by the jetty. I live near the water and don't take that privilege for granted. I enjoy the sea as much as possible with my girls. We walk down the long jetty, sit on the swings, sit on the rocks and watch the birds, look for manatees, etc.

It wasn't busy because it was a school / work day and so we enjoyed the quiet peace at the jetty. We held hands and walked at her adorably cute, slow pace and she pointed out each and every boat, bird, and dog she saw. I tried to point out a sea turtle to her but it was too confusing for her to understand. I normally don't see sea turtles here - usually just manatees - so it was a treat to see one!

As we were standing there at the edge of the jetty, an older man (maybe in his 60s?) came up and chatted. I don't initiate conversation with strangers but enjoy a random conversation with a local or tourist. He was a treasure hunter. He had one of his coins from a sunken Spanish wreck in his pocket. He told me all about the shipwrecks in the area, what they carried and what he has found. It was all quite interesting until he said, "I saw on the news 'the blacks'" .... OMFG!  Nothing good could come from a statement like that.

I was right. It went downhill fast as hell.

He said that "the blacks" (I'm sure he'd never capitalize the B" because that would show some amount of decency) were looking to erect status of slaves and replace the confederate monuments. I made a remark about the history of slavery and how I support replacing those status with a tribute to those who perished and managed to survive that horrific time in this country's history.

Clearly, he was surprised by my comment. After all, he felt that we should share the same perspective because we shared a similar skin color. He was off the mark for sure! And, how casually he admitted his racism to a total stranger was quite surprising. I could only imagine what he says in private to others ...

The man, he told me, was from Georgia - was it Valdosta, Georgia? Perhaps.
He told me there is still a pole or a tree or something with hooks for chains where they used to beat the slaves "when they needed it." WHEN THEY NEEDED IT?!!!! Oh MY GOD!
One of his coins and
my daughter holding my finger. 

What in the world was going on? I was standing on the edge of the jetty seeking sunshine and peace ... and of all people in the world to converse with me, a fucking nazi sympathizer or KKK member felt the need to chat with me?

I felt trapped. I'm not going to get into it with some Klansman while there with my little girl.

I simply told him that his story was as appalling as the history of this country that felt it was justifiable to keep human slaves or publicly watch them beaten/murdered or sold.

"You carry a lot of hate in your heart," I told him. "I don't feel the same toward any people. We don't share the same beliefs and I'm not racist like you are."

That was that.  Geez. A nice trip to enjoy the peaceful morning with my daughter ended in the most peculiar conversation with a stranger I've had in recent history.

-------

But the truth is that I have often encountered people who share my skin color and assumed we shared similar beliefs because of it.  I had a section NCO back in the day who was friends with Klansmen (this was in the Midwest. Yuck!). I know you have to respect someone's rank but how do you respect a fucking racist bitch who told you about her racism? Ugh. GROSS!!

And then there was a 1SG (First Sergeant) of mine who called me a Guinea because I'm Italian.

What was the course of action for either of them for their overt racism? Nothing. The 1SG went on to work for the Pentagon and the NCO ... her career just continued on. Nothing like embedding racists in the ranks and giving them more command and more control of other Soldiers.


So, while I cannot understand how someone could be so ignorant and racist, I can tell you that I have always felt an obligation to let them know that we don't share beliefs. I cannot convert anyone and don't really want to become a target for their misguided hate but I do remind them that I dont stand in their ranks with them.

Yuck.

What a gross world. There are FAR too many people to be so hateful and ignorant. There are good and bad people of all shades and faiths (or not faiths). And, no matter what, I will often stand on the side of the "underdog" and recognize the privilege I have for my skin color.

After all, I'm an intersectional feminist. To not support and stand with all women and all issues we (particularly as women) face would be to shortchange the real issues in the world. 

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