'The Lovers & Fighters of America' is a weekly column here at Ravishly featuring behind-the-scenes stories of inspirational people taking a stance against hate.
Acts of racism and harassment are currently on the rise in the U.S. Emboldened by Donald Trump’s presidency, the xenophobes, the racists, and the misogynists are taking off their hoods, revealing themselves with a growing pride and an overzealous sense of camaraderie among their fellow haters.
We've read stories of hate-fueled attacks online, seen them in the news, and on social media. We’ve viewed video footage of racist tirades filmed by seemingly silent bystanders. Some of us have even witnessed acts of hate and bullying up close. If you have been present during an attack, what did you do about it? Did you step up? Or did you let the victim down?
Trump’s actions, his words, and his chosen cabinet members continue to stoke the fires burning beneath some of the bigots in America. And, sadly, minorities are the ones feeling the burn. As allies, we must aim to be brave and vigilant. Our minority brothers and sisters are vulnerable and they need us to step up and show the bullies that their hate isn’t welcome here.
This week’s lover and fighter, 28-year-old teacher Jessica Lynne, did just that. She stepped up and she said NO to a racist’s verbal attack on a mother and her young son. Lynne shared the details of the recent experience that happened at a Maryland gas station, saying an act such as this was not something she had ever witnessed before, nor has she seen anything similar since.
Lynne described the setting: “I pull up to get gas. I get out of my car to see a woman and her small son pumping gas on the other side of mine. As I'm getting my credit card out, I hear their exchange as the little boy asks to 'push all the buttons' and giggling every time there is a small beep from the machine. I smile because it's adorable.” This gas station scene was a simple, lighthearted one until another car pulled up.
Lynne explained: “Moments later, as I begin to type in my information, a man pulls up behind me, gets out of his car, smiles at me, and then scoffs at the mother and son. He then says to the woman, 'Yeah, get your time in now because that little (insert derogatory term) son of yours ain't gonna live to see his 18th birthday.'" Lynne says she felt her heart start to race as tears filled her eyes. And she immediately put herself physically between the man and the mother and son. She then repeated the only words she could think to say:
She said it loudly, over and over. Lynne says the mother began to step forward, towards the man, but she told her to stay with her son. The bully goaded Lynne on, calling her a derogatory name herself, but she shut him down. “I told him that his racist remarks and words of hate weren't welcome there and I would be standing there with love for that woman and her beautiful son until he left. Because bullying and bigotry and racism were never going to be accepted by me. I told him he needed to leave.”
He did leave, without gas, and only after tossing out a few more insults before speeding away. The two women embraced one another, following the incident. When we asked Lynne if she’d always been protective and likely to stand up for others, she told Ravishly: “I would like to say that I have always been that type of person. However, until that incident, I had never really been in a position to stand up and act. I know now that I will always continue to be that person. After experiencing that kind of hate, I cannot imagine how I could ever be silent. We must always do whatever we can to squash hate and promote love.”
Lynne did not stay silent when she witnessed a hateful act of racism. Instead, she stood up! She stood up and she let an ignorant bigot know that his hate would not be tolerated. Jessica Lynne’s act of goodness and bravery is why she’s been selected as this week’s inspirational lover and fighter. Thank you, Jessica, for reminding us how important it is to be loyal allies during such hurtful acts. Perhaps that bigot will think twice next time. But, if not, let’s vow to be there to put him (and any others like him) in his place.
Here’s another example of someone doing just that, a member of the military who refuses to let a “customer’s” anti-Muslim bigotry go unchecked.
For ideas on what you can do if you witness a hate-fueled attack like this one, click here. Stay safe and stay strong!
If you know an inspirational Lover & Fighter whom you’d like to see featured on Ravishly, send a message to Shannon Day, via Facebook.
Lovers & Fighters say "hell no" to racism, sexism, bigotry, and xenophobia. These men, women, and children are saying "heck yes" to equality, human decency, and love. From bold acts of advocacy to simple moments of goodness, these everyday people remind us of what it truly means to be American.
These lovers and fighters are resistant in the face of intolerance. They are bold in the presence of judgment. They are determined to join forces (or to stand proudly alone) to ensure their message is heard: #LoveTrumpsHate.