The gentleman is Willard. “Just like the name of the rat” in the old movie, he boasted. He gave me permission to take his picture and tell his story. He lives Up North and always has.
He had heard on the radio (propagandists everywhere are always happy to pass counterproductive news) there was going to be a BLM rally, of all things, downtown at the park circle at 2. So he made himself a sign, got there early, and sat up by the sidewalk to chat with any and all.
It was curious because just a little before I met Willard, I saw somebody getting into a black SUV that had hand-painted “BLM – Black Lives Matter” and “Reparations Now” on its windows. I hurried along because I didn’t see exactly who got into it and wanted to.
I said, as I neared the open passenger-side window and saw who it was, “Ha! A white guy. I knew it.” Young white kid, twenties, long hair but well groomed, obviously well off, playing at politics. He heard me—surprisingly, I am not a quiet man—looked at me, did an illegal U-turn and vamoosed. Downstate stickers. Not a local.
Willard said only a couple of people showed up for the BLM “event”. They milled around on the lawn for a bit. Attracted no attention, and gave up. It had already dispersed. It must have been one of the remnant I had seen. Willard outlasted them.
He said, “Do you know who the first slaves in America were? Irish. I’m Irish. Do all Irish get something? Do I get reparations, too?” I ventured they could pay him back in beer, and after he said he didn’t drink, I volunteered to manage his share.
“What about blacks who were never slaves? Do they get paid?” It is funny seeing Al Sharpton private jet from here to there with his hands out pleading poverty and lack of privilege.
“Nobody gave me anything. I had to work for everything. Why should I pay? I’m tired of all the gimme gimme gimme.” He worked up north all his life. Let’s say he didn’t get rich. And now he’s being asked to give his hard won money to others because their skin color differs. He’s not too happy about it.
He said he and his wife were now listening to Gone With The Wind on tape, which he had never read or seen before, but which he had ordered after he heard it was being purged. “You know the main character in that book, Scarlet? She was all me me me me. She learned.”
Passersby had been friendly, those that paused to look at him anyway, and a few stopped by to chat. Nobody from the BLM “rally” came over.
I asked him why he came out. Willard said, “I just had to do something. I couldn’t sit and not do something.”
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