On a Monday morning in March, I stopped by a small business in St. Anthony Park. This business is a pillar of the community.
It’s a business that my family supported when I was a child and that I have made a point to support in adulthood.
I was shocked when I noticed the small confederate flag staring up at me from the roof of a small model car in a display in the lobby of the business.
The confederate flag is a powerful symbol and its meaning is indisputable. I said something immediately to the employee behind the counter and his response was that was “mostly children who played with the toy.”
This did not alleviate my concern and I asked if the owner was available. He was and he informed that the car was a toy from his childhood.
I appreciate the power of memorabilia and objects from childhood that transport us to a different time and place.
But symbols that promote racism and hate and fear transport us to different places too. And they send powerful messages to everyone who sees them. It appalls me that a long-standing business in “The Park” would seek to promote that message.
It was clear to me that there was no room for discussion and that my concerns and objections were unwelcome. I left with a racing heart, unsettled and a profound sadness. Racism is alive and well in our community.
While I may not be able to change the opinions and beliefs of local business owners, I can rescind my support by no longer patronizing that business.
I hope that other residents in St. Anthony Park and communities that the Bugle reaches will look out for and stand up against the symbols and practices of racism in our communities, whether blatantly expressed or on display in the form of a toy car.