Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Day We Stood Up to the Klan

I've got a friend, who shall assume the name Diana, in Michigan that is incredibly dear to me. She and I have gone through a great many things together- bad break ups, homelessness, foodlessness, broken down U-Hauls, good parties, lap dances (we received one together), etc. When I met her, she was in the middle of a complete mental breakdown- and she was still ridiculously fabulous. In fact, within in the first five minutes of meeting her, I asked her to come with me to Barnes and Noble's- I planning to visit anyway. She agreed, surprisingly enough, and we had an absolutely fabulous time together. That was the beginning of one of the best friendships of my life.
We were together a great deal. In fact, we were together most of the time. She would come to my house and stay for days on end. We would get up and go to school together, go get coffee, go hang out, whatever. At the time, my mother and I were living in a tiny little town that was 98% white, and Diana, being the beautiful color of dark brown that she was, stood out tremendously. And the Klan stood up and took notice of us. For whatever reason, they were permissive of of a half-Indian woman and her family living in their white society, but apparently one of her children befriending a black girl and bringing her into their community wasn't permissible at all. And they began to talk. My neighbor, an older man, came to me to tell me that they had been talking about my friend and I down at the local breakfast restaurant. They were planning to 'end the situation by teaching us a lesson'.
It scared me, no doubt. I knew the terrible things they'd done to other people all over the nation in the past. And, Diana and I spent a great deal of time out at night, by ourselves. The opportunities abounded for them to "teach us a lesson". I felt it was necessary to tell my mother, and, with a terribly saddened heart, I had to tell Diana as well. There was a possibility that they would come to the house, and I didn't want my mother to be caught in the situation unawares, and Diana had every right in the world to know that she was in a threatening position.
My mother listened while I told her what I had been told. She then told me that she had been afraid this would happen, and that I had two choices: I could either drop Diana as a friend, for the sake of safety, or we could be prepared and fight, but also be very cautious.
When I told Diana, she told me "ya know, I love you to pieces. But, I totally understand if you wanna stop being friends with me."
And my response? "I'm not letting anybody tell me how to live, what to believe, or who I can be friends with. I love Diana, and I'm standing by her. To hell with them. Let them come." I was madder than hell, and for so many reasons. How dare these people try to tell me what to do? How dare they threaten us? How dare they judge her in such a manner? Who in the hell did they think they were dealing with?
That settled and agreed upon by all of us, I went to my neighbor and told him what we'd decided to do. I was sticking to my guns, and nothing would persuade me otherwise. He dropped the word to the Klan people that wanted to do something to us- and also dropped the word that we were three heavily armed people with terribly good aim.
Diana and I continued to do our normal routine of things, always keeping a weather eye out for trouble, and we saw some folks that looked like they would've loved to start it- if they'd had the balls to do so. They didn't, and three very small women won a battle in a long and ravaging war. Diana and I are friends to this day, and without each other I don't think we could've made it this far. Thank God we refused to let the ignorance of some make the choices for us, and thank God for that good neighbor, who is probably the whole reason the situation ended so well.

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