So I was at a local Caribou Coffee writing with my good friend, Judy Kerr, in Monticello, Minnesota a few days ago. Before I continue, a little back story is needed here. Caribou is one of my go-to places to write. It’s welcoming, relaxed, and has great hot chocolate, because of course, I don’t drink coffee. Caribou started in a suburb of Minneapolis, and now boasts shops in a number of states and in countries overseas. The company is known for embracing diversity and acceptance, one of the many reasons I love it.
One of the things Caribou does to try and connect with its clientele in each of their stores is something called Chalk Thoughts, a wall painted with chalkboard paint. Every week a question is written at the top, and customers are invited to leave their thoughts on the board.
On this particular day, the chalkboard had been cleaned and a new prompt written on the top. My back was to the board, which was perpendicular to us. and Judy sat opposite me, facing that perpendicular wall. I was busy writing, and something made me glance up to see Judy staring intently over my shoulder, and the guy at the table beside us mesmerized at something behind me as well.
She said, “I want to see what that guy wrote.”
I said, “What are you talking about?” She pointed at the board. “Some guy just came in here and wrote something then spun on his heel and walked out. You should have seen the look on his face. It was twisted, and he looked furious. At the door he glanced back with a glare that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.”
So I walked over and looked. Written in dark red chalk was an ode to Trump and a vile, nonfactual comment on Obama’s heritage and birth. Someone must have notified the staff, because within just two or three minutes someone was out washing off what had been written. They had to wash it more than once to remove the ghosting of the letters.
Now, Monticello is halfway between Minneapolis and the small town where I now live. I wouldn’t have been surprised if something similar happened in my town, since a couple months ago our main street was papered with hate posters thanks to a local white supremacist group. I know that action and this man’s red-chalk rant is barely a blip on the Hatred Spewing Spectrum, but it’s a grim reminder that it’s out there. It’s subversive, it’s sad, and in this case, it’s an escalation. This guy might have had those thoughts in his head for some time. But he upped his game by making a public statement in such a way. For this dude, who was filled with enough hate to do this, what’s next? Is he going to come back there and shoot up the joint? Shoot up some other place? Continue to spread his cancerous attitude to his children, to his family and friends—because I’m sure he is already doing that. It’s horrible that one thought can lead to another and pretty soon you’re wondering about your own personal safety and the safety of the community this man calls home. Trump has given permission for people like this to creep out of the woodwork and taint the greatness that is the United States of America. However, united isn’t what we are, not by a long shot. Maybe our country should be called the Contentious States of America.
This act furthered my resolve to continue to write the books I write, to continue to speak out, speak up, and do my part to share my experiences of inclusion, diversity, and understanding in a world that’s lost its mind. One book, one reader, one moment in time can be the change we want to see. No, it can be the change we NEED to see. Keep reading, keep writing if that’s what you do, and keep living your lives out loud and proud. I know I don’t usually do serious blogs, but here you go.
Peace and love to everyone.