My last fist-fight was in 8th grade. Mostly a one-punch, after school event.
A classmate who used to pester me by hitting me and running away finally pushed me too far. I caught him with a solid right cross to his jaw. Just like my old man taught me.
The fight commenced. If you can call it that. After my one punch, it was more of a slap-box dance until somebody broke it up.
There was no detention. No suspension. It ended almost as quickly as it started. And Cleo – that was the kid’s name – became one of my best friends.
No fights in the more than four decades since. That’s because I’m a peace-loving guy. I’ve committed to non-violence as a way of life. Just as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught.
But I’m also a realist. I concede that violence – specifically, a defense use of force – is a moral and acceptable response to lethal actions and threats.
I bring this up because someone thinks it should be open season on black folks at the upcoming Lee County fair. According to AL.com, some fool has threated to kill us at next month’s Lee County Fair. The Opelika police are investigating the threats, and plan to beef up security at the fair.
I call him a fool because social media posts create a digital footprint. They can be traced. Identities can be uncovered. And because he has targeted a public event – which means more than black folks will be at risk – I’m betting law enforcement is making a serious effort to identify the poster.
He wrote that he and his friends “are coming to [the] Opelika Alabama fair to kill every NEGRO that we lay eye contact on so be prepared. WHITE POWER.” The poster’s profile included the Confederate battle flag, just to make sure we knew whose side he is on.
Maybe he’s never had a history class. His side lost.
Obviously, this bigot assumes the automatic response to his post will be fear and terror. And I’m sure some folks will be afraid and terrified. But let’s not forget: It’s easier to acquire a gun and carry one in Alabama than ever.
For everyone – not just white bigots threatening violence.
So, if some violent doofus points a gun at any black folks at the fair, he just might find several pointed back at him. Some of them might be held by law abiding black folks. Some, by law abiding whites.
Not that I’m wishing a shootout on the guy. Or on the many innocents who will be put at risk.
I’m a peace-loving guy. A lover, not a fighter. But that might not be everyone’s disposition.
Alabama 2022 is not the Alabama of the 1950s or ’60s. Bigotry has fallen out of favor, at least as a matter of open, social practice. Racists can’t just roll up on black folks and do whatever the hell they want anymore. Criminal and civil penalties await those who do.
Plus, black people ain’t having it. And plenty of white folks aren’t either.
Some whites won’t stand for it simply because they are decent, law-abiding people, regardless of politics or ideology. Some won’t because they find bigotry especially detestable – again, regardless of who they voted for or what issues they support.
And some won’t stand for it because they are married to a black person. Have children who are mixed. Maybe a parent or grandparent. A sibling or two.
Maybe a lover or best friend. A neighbor or colleague.
Black people may attend their church. Or they may attend a black church.
A lot has changed in Alabama since the civil rights era. While more change needs to come, enough has happened to indicate that white bigots aren’t as free to roam as they once were.
But I’m not naïve. Some folks just won’t do right.
Nevertheless, here’s some advice for the Lee County poster threating to kill black people at the Lee County Fair: It’s a new day in Alabama, even if you don’t want it to be.
Please don’t make the mistake of thinking otherwise. It may be the biggest regret of your life.