FREEDOM OF SPEECH DOES NOT HAVE TO BE LIKEABLE

My Dear Fellow Journeyers,

I couldn’t take it anymore- I cut off  most of my hair.  The first time I cut off all of my hair was when I was 19. It felt so freeing, as it does now.  The reason I started to grow back  my hair was because I felt that my almost shaved look was intimidating to some people. I did not want to alienate anyone because they were intimidated. I was especially concerned that the people who manage people in re-hab or those who worked with young people, might be put off by my lack of hair. I found out that nobody cared. So, I’m doing what works for me.

Thank you for that digression. Now on to this blog about everyday racism.

There were two disappointments that I want to discuss. I was  trying to support a female owned florist named “The Moderate Florist.” The name of the business should have been the first clue, that she was not suppose to be my florist, but nevertheless she was recommended to me by the staff of Mom’s. For those of you who are not familiar with MOM’s it is an organic food market.  Its importance to this story is that MOM’s doesn’t sell flowers. When I stopped being a Whole Foods customer and switched to MOM’s I no longer had a source for flowers, thus “The Moderate Florist.”

On my first visit to The Moderate Florist she said that her credit card machine was not working and she could only take cash. No worries, I had cash and I bought out most of the remaining flowers in her modest store.

On  the next occasion, she remembered me, but she greeted me with, “You should be glad I am opened. Most florists close at noon on Saturday.” I responded I was thrilled she was opened and proceeded to buy a large bunch of flowers. At my parting she said “September is wedding season, I’m am not likely to be here.” Lo and behold, this Saturday, which was September 17th, I drove to The Moderate Florist during the Hampden Festival. This point is important for two reasons. This first is that I suffered the usually bad parking which was increased by the festival goers  and I waded through dense crowds to get to her store. She wasn’t there.

There was a note, however, saying that she was near one of my favorite antique stores. I walked the four blocks through the crowds and I was happy to see the florist. She had a bucket of sunflowers. I walked up to her and said “I hope I have enough cash to buy all of your sunflowers.”

“They are not for sale,” she said. “They are give-aways for people who sign up for weddings.”

I was disappointed. “Do you know if there is another florist in Hampden that is open today?” I suppose I should have just googled to see if there was, but I was hoping to support a small business.

“No,” she answered. “Your best bet is to go to the Whole Foods in Mt. Washington.”

I sighed.  “I have made a great effort to support your business and you are making it very hard for me to do so.”  She shrugged her shoulders. I felt like crying, which was an over response,  but I have a real commitment  to support female entrepreneurs.

Later that weekend I told my florist tale to a friend of mine. He said “She doesn’t want your business; she’s racist.” I was stunned by his response. He added “Hampden is a poor white working class neighborhood with a history of discriminating against black people.” This made me even sadder.  “I guess, I need a new florist,” I said.

“I think you do.” He replied. I will tell you on Thursday who my new florist will be. I know, this is a a real “first world problem.”

The other event worthy of comment was  last Sunday’s response of the Seattle Seahawks. I had hoped they would have gone down on bent knee to support the   “Black Lives Matter” campaign. Instead the Seahawks linked arms in solidarity. The team has been criticized for their “on the fence” move.  I had to think about  Seattle’s actions as they relate to the “Black Lives Matter” campaign.  After  thinking about what our country stands for- freedom of speech- or non-speech, I realized that I could not  criticize the Seahawks. To do so would mean that I only support freedom of speech when I agree with it. That’s not supporting freedom of speech.   Free speech  does not require agreement.

I extended this concept to include freedom of speech around political speech as well. Most of my Facebook friends are liberal Democrats.  However,  a few of my friends are Republicans. Some of my Republican friends have shown their support to Donald Trump. I realize that while I disagree with most of the statements made by Donald Trump, I must respect his freedom of speech as well. So, I won’t “unfriend” anyone for supporting Donald Trump. I will, however, question why we are friends on Facebook or otherwise.

With love and light,

Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer

3 Replies to “FREEDOM OF SPEECH DOES NOT HAVE TO BE LIKEABLE”

  1. Try a gay florist. We always are more creative. I understand wanting to support female business owners. I do that also with queer businesses. I was using my own prejudice to justify feeling that way when the truth is I believe in my soul that I will stand for prejudice to end and I can go any place and not have to be concerned whether my age, sex, queerness, race, etc. will not include me. As we learned in the Forum dragging prejudice around will and does stifle possibility.

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