Editor: On May 25, I was told about a group holding a press conference at the Loudoun County School Board who were in opposition to equity and equality in schools. I already had my “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt on, as it was the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder.
I got to the site and noticed a group of about 40 or so people milling around some microphones. One guy was there with coiffed hair and a sport coat. Another fella with grayish hair and a polo that said P.A.C.T was sneering at me. As a communications professional and political strategist, I quickly assessed the game and planted myself next to the bank of mics. Three brave women about 20 feet from me held up a “Black Lives Matter” banner. They were targets of ire and ridicule.
I asked a simple question “why do those three words bother you guys so much?” You would think that I suggested ritual sacrifice of one of their children. Rather than address my simple inquiry, we were verbally accosted. I was called a Marxist, divider, punk and other non-repeatable words. The women holding the banner were called dogs by the group leader, Scott Mineo, who demanded quiet and attention from everyone. One woman screamed at me—with such rage that I thought her carotid may explode from her neck—that racism doesn’t exist in America. Another short white man impugned my integrity as a person if I had never served in the military. Three large men began physically menacing the women holding the banner as the group leaders tried to position people to block the banner so the cameras wouldn’t capture it.
Mineo took the mic and quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by saying that people should be judged by the content of their character not the color of their skin. I asked him how he could quote Dr. King but not believe in the implementation of his teachings. He sneered and laughed at me and walked off.
The Fox News chyron that night read “Anti Racists Shout Down Press Conference” or something to that effect. There were four of us. Three of us barely spoke and were hidden behind a banner they held up. We were yelled at. We were threatened. We were menaced. Why? Because we had the audacity to say that Black Lives Matter.
For those moments, I had maybe a scintilla of a fraction of a notion of what it must be like to be an oppressed minority in America … and all I had to do to blend in and be left alone was to take off my shirt.
Those suffering discrimination at the hands of others in this nation cannot take off their skin. They must endure. And we must stand by them because the attacks are coming fast and hard against equality. The lives of our school children are being exploited for political gain. We are all better than this.
Joshua Stack, Leesburg