I am happy. I am healthy. I am loved.
I had promised myself I would spend this next six days harboring peaceful thoughts – practicing positive affirmations about the inherent goodness of humanity, the resilience of our country, and centering myself with the knowledge that no matter what happens in this election I am surrounded by a community of decent people.
Then a woman in a neighboring town with a BLACK LIVES MATTER sign , and more recently a BIDEN sign, found a doll’s head in her garden bed. It wasn’t just any doll’s head; it was from a black doll and the words N ****R LOVER written across its forehead. She came upon it as she and her fourteen-year-old grandson were doing yard work.
My zen plummeted.
As an outspoken supporter against racial injustice, I have been on the receiving end of such hate – twice being deliberately targeted requiring police investigation, and two more times, this summer, the victim of what I refer to as petty hate (stealing my yard sign that promoted a candidate of color, and later leaving a derogatory sign in my yard). This doll head incident shook me, bringing me right back to the fear I felt when my tires were slashed and my car keyed after a political event and I was told by the police - having seen a rash of incidents - that I should remove my pro-Obama bumper stickers. And worse, when I received threatening letters because of my political views.
These were not general threats. They targeted my business, my writing for the local newspaper, and my family, with threats to turn me into ICE for harboring illegal immigrants. It was written with racial and sexual slurs and ending with the words “Welcome to the fish bowl C-word" – that last bit a reference to both my public voice and the visibility of owning a business in a window-filled building in the center of town. I lived in fear for myself and my family until the author of the hate was tracked down.
Yesterday, when I heard about the doll head, I wanted to seek out hate’s latest victim, ignore social distancing, and hug her to allay my own fears. If being an ally has had this PTSD affect on me, what must a person who wears their daily sign in the color of their skin and the ethnicity of their heritage feel?
Don’t get me wrong. I will go back to my practiced zen affirmation – I am happy. I am healthy. I am loved. I will say a prayer for people who live in daily fear. And I will not stop being an ally.