In early August I wrote about an experience on the road between Boston and Rhode Island, an experience that I described to people as being in the midst of a Klu Klux Klan rally where no one wore a hood. You can read that post here if you like. And though I wrote that post about my experience, my feelings in that moment, I also thought about what were the children in the neighboring cars experiencing, children of any race, what questions were they asking their parents and how were their parents responding. I especially thought that when I saw a little brown boy staring at the pickup truck in the lane next to him flying its huge confederate flags.
I was surprised later to find so little commentary on local news and on the internet about that procession of thirty-plus vehicles in New England with their giant flags driving en masse along I-95. But I guess I was using the wrong search terms. I did not think to use the words: Make American Great Again Convoy, an event that took place July 30 and 31 in Foxboro, MA.
I remember writing that I chose not to photograph anything around me that day on the road. But I do realize that it is important to capture the words and images of such events so that they can be documented and remembered. Since I wrote my original post a video has surfaced. When I first saw the still shots and read the transcripts of what people were saying that day on their CBs, I almost shrugged. I wasn’t surprised and my feelings were justified.
Then I watched the video, listened to the words, and it made me want to cry. Not out of fear but out of sadness at what darkness remains in this world. As young white men laugh about lynching niggers from the nearby trees, using blacks as pinatas, I remembered the little brown boy staring into their trucks. And I thought of a young brown cousin who I’ve been told likes to chase Monarchs at his home in New York, and I thought of my young brown nephew who likes to plant gardens in his home in Virginia. They are too young to fear what has been because they don’t know that part of American history … yet. I thought of what these people must be teaching their children and I hoped that their children somehow would one day hold hands with children of all shades and know that they were the same.
It is almost too easy to blame Trump and yet I do not want to let him and his brethren off the hook for what they have allowed to re-surface, unchecked, in this country. He was the spark for their tinder. The video is 4minutes and 45 seconds. It’s hard to listen to, and in no way kid friendly but it should be reflected upon because the sentiments expressed in the video and in similar gatherings online and in person across this country are not going to disappear overnight or anytime soon. Maybe never.
However, somehow, there is always hope for better.
In 1880, Phillips Brooks, then the Rector of Trinity Church in Boston, delivered a sermon at Westminster Abbey in England. The sermon was titled The Candle of the Lord. It was July 4th that he spoke and for the occasion he added some text to the sermon where he asked the British congregation before him to pray for his young country:
“It is not for me to glorify to-night the country which I love with all my heart and soul. I may not ask your praise for anything admirable which the United States has been or done. But on my country’s birthday I may do something far more solemn and more worthy of the hour. I may ask you for your prayer in her behalf. That on the manifold and wondrous chance which God is giving her, – on her freedom (for she is free, since the old stain of slavery was washed out in blood); on her unconstrained religious life; on her passion for education, and her eager search for truth; on her jealous care for the poor man’s rights and opportunities; on her countless quiet homes where the future generations of her men are growing; on her manufactures and her commerce; on her wide gates open to the east and to the west; on her strange meetings of the races out of which a new race is slowly being born … “
One hundred thirty years later, I’d say we are a nation still being born.