Have you ever found yourself struggling with your values? Being an African American social justice educator, I often explore the theme of replacing judgment with curiosity and humanizing others, no matter what. Saying those values is always easier than living them.
Not long ago my wife and I decided to buy a kitchen island and we wanted to have one handmade, something both personal and contributing to the local economy. Through social media, we found a local carpenter. He quoted a very reasonable price. All our interactions were pleasant, professional. Throughout the building process he posted pictorial updates from his workshop, his garage. With each post our anticipation swelled.
After a few weeks it was done. He asked if we could come pick it up. It was the least we could do, considering the quote saved us a boatload. We drove over to a neighboring suburb, into a quaint, recently built subdivision. Walking up to the house, ornamented with a few patriotic flags, my wife and I knocked on the door and a bright-eyed boy answered. The kid told us his dad said to go around to the garage.
We backtracked to the opened garage and saw our beautiful island. We inspected it, sliding our hands across the finished wood – then we noticed something wholly unexpected: a Confederate battle flag hanging on a wall! My wife and I looked at each other. We looked back at him, and suddenly, he was no longer the carpenter building the hub of our home, but a White man with a Confederate flag. What would you do?
I’m Joseph Flynn.
In part two, Joseph Flynn gives his perspective on the encounter.