"Should I or Shouldn’t I?" , Revisited
I felt like my head was spinning—a feeling I get a lot these days. I think we’re all being challenged to confront some really uncomfortable realities. Namely, there is racism all around us. The question is often, “Should I engage right now or let it go?"
In Alice’s E-News piece last month, she felt called to stand up and say something about the racist bullying going on at her former workplace. But I recently made the decision not to engage.
Here’s what happened: It was a Sunday afternoon and I was in need of a break from my two young kids. I went to my local health club to swim laps at the outdoor pool. As I was swimming down the lane, I noticed that someone had spread out a confederate flag towel on one of the lawn chairs.
I live in North Carolina, so confederate flag sightings are not unusual. However, it seemed a bold statement to bring such a towel to a health club with a diverse clientele, especially in light of recent events. I believe these people were making a deliberate statement by displaying the confederate flag.
As I got out of the pool and looked over at the family with the offending towel, I debated whether to say something. The dad was a big guy, probably mid-forties. His jaw was clenched, his brow furrowed, his face red. What I read in his features was anger and tension.
I thought to myself, what can I say to this man? If I escalate this situation, will this pool remain a safe place for me to bring my family? What would my escalation of this issue mean for the people of color here at the pool right now? Is there any way in which a confrontation leads to this man and his family changing their views on race? On the other hand, is it time to take a stand? Can I remain silent any longer?