At an antique shop that
we like to frequent my daughter Kelsy and myself were browsing
the isles. We hadn't been there 10 minutes when we came to this
really nice glass case, about 5 foot tall with shelving that held
some WWII memorabilia. It was all lit up and everything was so
polished and nicely boxed. I remember thinking how silly of people
to think they can clean up so nice and tidy the destruction that
those artifacts held.
We kept walking to the
next case. This is where the real story begins. I had no idea
how much the things in this next case would affect Kelsy and myself.
Our eyes looked upon a grotesque sight. Sitting so prettily on
this shelf was, and I use this term very loosely, a Christian
Knight KKK robe, hood and a picture of a clan rally from many
years ago. There was also placed along side the robe a dagger
that had the letters KKK inscribed on the shank. What looked to
be a homemade ring that was also inscribed with the letters KKK
was also perched beside the robe.
We both stood there for
what seemed to be forever. I could not believe what my eyes were
looking at. I remember blinking my eyes several times to make
sure I was seeing clearly. The real problem I had with seeing
these things was not that they were displayed, the problem was
the owners of this antique shop had placed a price tag of $1499.00
on these items. They were a set and were to be sold together.
The horror of this moment
made me sick at my stomach. I felt my own body revolting at the
grisly sight, and the fact that one man's pain and torture had
become another's monetary gain. I stood back and realized my daughter
was standing beside me experiencing the same thing. I snapped
out of my reaction to focus on what she was feeling about what
she was seeing.
She looked at me and anger
came over her face. She knew about the KKK and we had taught her
about the horrors that man can force upon man. I saw a shame come
over her face as she asked me why would someone want to sell a
dagger that may have taken the life of another human. I proceeded
to tell her that the only way we would ever know that would be
to ask the owner of the store.
Well that was all the
ammunition she needed! She turned her back to me and said, "Mom,
I'm gonna go ask them why." She never asked me if she could, or
if I thought it was okay. She kept on marching toward the front
of the store. All the while, part of me was hoping she would turn
around and come back, the other part found myself trying to keep
up with her as she almost raced to the front counter.
Now, I found this funny
at the time, but she found the tallest, whitest skinned man she
could find behind the counter. She proceeded to ask "why in the
world would you sell KKK stuff in your store?" He calmly explained
to her that it was strictly for the "historical value that it
Her next response was,
"No, you are not, you're selling it for the money." He again told
her it had historical value. She then repeated her statement that
it was "for the money." I thought that if they were so interested
in the historical value, displaying it would be saying enough.
The price tag told their true motive.
At that moment, all I
had ever taught her, all the good sense that God gave her, and
her own personality came together for her. I could
see her gaining strength from each footstep she made away from
that man. She had spoken for someone else other than herself.
I saw anger, pride, and confidence all wrapped up in this eleven
year old body. Stronger than my 36 year old body that hesitated
to say anything at all. I was profoundly affected by what I saw,
but Kelsy decided that wasn't enough for her. She had acted!
Of course pride was running
through my veins at the sight of her standing up for something
she strongly believed. Her Dad had now been let in on the story
and had seen what all the commotion was about. He too, was amazed
at her determination to get an answer.
The funny thing about
this was that she had saved her money for a couple of weeks to
visit this particular antique store. She had not let me or her
Dad forget that she only wanted to stop there, nowhere else. When
we first arrived, she spotted the beanie baby case and had picked
out the one she wanted to buy. The mother in me told her to look
around first, and if we didn't find anything she like better,
we'd come back and buy it. Of course we were waylaid before we
could shop any more by the racist KKK display.
After her confrontation
with the management, we went to sit and wait for her grandparents
to finish their browsing. After a few minutes she got up and went
back to the beanie baby case. She stared for the longest time
at the hard to find, patiently waited for, saved up for weeks,
beanie baby. I could see her idealism fighting with her desire.
She was grappling with more than just a doll and I knew it.
I didn't approach her,
but I let her stay at that case just looking at the doll. She
had the money, actually more than she needed. In the end her idealism
won out and she slowly turned and walked back toward us. She proclaimed
that the store did not deserve her money.
She would spend it elsewhere.
Her Dad and I knew this was a momentous experience in her life
she would not soon forget. Nor would we.
We left the store so very
proud of her but also there was this nagging feeling that someone,
somewhere out there that would buy those things. That they would
not see the de-humanization of buying the murder and misery of
another race of people, that were created by God…our own brothers
We will never forget the
day our eleven year old daughter, in her own way, bore the burdens
Author’s Note: Kelsy and her parents
are Caucasian and live in the South. I'm proud to call her my