“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail
Let me begin by saying that Jimmy Pardo is much funnier than I thought he might be. He made my friend Robbie his best friend during the show, which only served to make the night even more enjoyable. The sound of my husband laughing is one of my favorite sounds in the world. I love nothing more than a great night with wonderful friends.
That being said, our table was in the front and directly behind us was a bachelorette party. I barely noticed them until one of the opening acts came on and started talking about issues related to social justice and disclosed that he was bisexual. It was then, that this group of women started making some of the most vile and offensive comments. I turned back to see what was happening and was met with multiple glares. I turned back but they continued on with their increasingly worse awfulness. I could not hold the space any longer and turned back again. I said “If this is so awful why don’t you just leave” at that point a majority of them did.
But, two did not. These two were saying the worst (racist, homophobic, islamaphobic) things. This is when the manager came to me and said if I don’t stop, I will be asked to leave. These women were free to speak hate but because I was offended I was the one that needed to leave. I asked my husband to trade me seats to distance them from me. He did and the show went on.
However, in the back of my head I thought that asking to trade seats and ignoring these women as they continued to speak hate was making me a hypocrite. I spoke only days before about how as a white person I have social capital that is my privilege. I write about social justice, I talk about social justice, and now in this moment I was moving seats to make myself more comfortable. I could not reconcile this in my head. I needed to keep my integrity in tact.
Breathe and Be brave.
The show ended and I approached this group of women and told them how what they were doing and saying was awful and offensive (I was not very eloquent). Needless to say, this did not go well. I was about to get my ass beat by a group of women. This is when, my sweet, kind, and loving friend, Meagan came out from behind and had my back in a way I’ve never experienced. She stood up with me and for me. She also kept me from getting physically harmed. Most of my friends and family just want me to be quiet because they worry about my safety. This was the not case. She demonstrated beautiful courage and incredible support.
Her actions reminded me that we cannot fight hate alone. We need people to stand with us and for us in the face of injustice and keep us safe. We need to feel like we are not alone in this fight. I am so grateful to have friends like Meagan and Robbie who will stand up for what they also believe is right. This is what courage looks like.
So I ask this community: What do you do when you see/hear/experience social injustice? How do you handle these situations? How do you speak truth to power?
“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”
― Albert Einstein