It wasn’t my first time to engage in peaceful protest. In Iowa I marched and protested multiple times in support of equal marital rights for the LGBTQ+ community. In Chicago I crowded the downtown streets with thousands of others as part of the historic Women’s March, and attended several political and racial equality protests and rallies in my suburban town west of Chicago.
But this was the first time I showed up loud and proud and defiant as an identifiable Witch.
I didn’t know what to expect during that hour alongside one of the busiest throroughfares south of Miami, but in point of fact I knew that my privilege—both racial and financial—would very likely protect me from any truly dire consequences. And that’s exactly WHY I got my “witch” on in such a public arena. Because that’s one of the ways I can use my privilege to support the fight against racial injustice.
Interestingly, the only person who expressed any discomfort with how I was dressed was a member of the congregation my husband currently serves. As we were gathering to head over to the street, she wondered if I were “the anti-Ku Klux Klan”. I told her that was an association that hadn’t even occurred to me and asked if she could expand on that thought a little, at which point she talked about the KKK and witches both having pointy hats.
These are the types of interactions during which, at least as I see it, we are called to lead with love. I could either flip out on her, or I could use the conversation as a springboard for a teachable moment. You can probably guess which option I chose.Although cloaked in the language of being worried about what “other people” might think, in fact, her concern was an expression of her own discomfort and, beneath that, fear. And while it may have been faster (and I won’t deny it, more satisfying) to clap back, it’s more effective to take the time needed for deep listening and bridge-building. Each one teach one; each one reach one.
The conversation reminded me that intolerance is often fear-based, and reminded me that intolerance can be like that old Whack-a-Mole arcade game—it can pop up where and when you least expect it. We ended up sharing a very productive (and friendly) conversation that gave her an opportunity to reevaluate some of her prejudices while still feeling affirmed, loved, and accepted just as she was.
As for the peaceful protest—it was an hour of supportive honks and thumbs up from hundreds of drivers, with just one person showing a thumbs down (and no one shooting the finger, which is remarkable in this particular community). We were Unitarian Universalists, Episcopalians—and a Witch—standing in solidarity and witness for systemic change, racial equity, and true justice.
May we all bring our most authentic selves to the work of changing our country and its laws for the better, and may we remember that while the arc of the moral universe is long it does indeed bend toward justice, especially when we are all actively engaged in the work.
You can hear more of The Corner Crone during her Moments For Meditation on KPPR Pure Pagan Radio on TuneIn.