She looked the hater in the eyes

Peaceful protests are happening in huge numbers around the country regarding Black Lives Matter. There is danger from both the COVID-19 virus as well as counter protestors. From what I have seen, most of the protestors are wearing masks and they are outside, but they still need to be very careful.

As for the other risk of counter protestors, here is what one young black woman named Samantha Francine did. Her actions are captured in an article written by Asta Bowen in the Jackson Hole News and Guide on June 10 called “Looking hate in the eye in Whitefish.” Here are few paragraphs. A link to the article is below.

“What happened here was much less dramatic. On a fine afternoon in the pretty ski town of Whitefish, a group was gathered to raise signs of support for Black Lives Matter. One large, angry man descended on the scene, cursing in people’s faces and grabbing at signs, as the group chanted, ‘Peaceful! Peaceful!’ Within minutes a policeman had escorted the man from the scene.

But amid the commotion, one image burns bright: We see the intruder from behind, towering over a young black woman, as he gets in her face. Her sign, ‘Say Their Names,’ has dropped to her side, but her feet are planted firmly. She has just put up her sunglasses, meeting his assault with a steady, silent gaze. Though the encounter lasts only a moment, the impression is enduring. Her name is Samantha Francine, and she embodies the change we need. As we adjust to life under the pandemic, it is time to accept that yet another plague is upon us, and that is the disease of dehumanization. We condemn first and ask questions later — or never. We judge on sight, we dismiss and damn; we polarize and partisanize until the rift has grown so wide there is no reaching across.

Samantha just held her ground, looked the man in the eye, and listened.

She explained why: ‘I grew up with a single white father who taught us from a young age that things were going to be different for us just because of the color of our skin. He would constantly remind us that ‘no matter the threat, always look them in the eye so they have to acknowledge you’re human.’ In this moment, those are the words that went through my head. When I lifted up my glasses, he saw me. I saw him.’”

Peaceful protests are key. Violence is not the answer as it distracts from the message. But, acts of civil disobedience are immeasurable. She looked the hater in the eyes and let him rant. She listened to what he had to say, but she looked him in the eye to let him know she was there and she saw him.

I will add what she did was a daring and took nerve. It may not be the solution for many. But, listening to someone is an appropriate action. Then, you can ask questions about what they said. “Help me understand why you feel that way?” you could ask. If a black man named Daryl Davis can talk over 200 KKK members to cede their robes and quit, then anything is possible.

A message I want to leave with people is one I often repeat. One does not need to be a jerk to get a point across. In fact, the message will likely be heard if it is not shouted. It will also be likely heard if it is made after listening to the other’s point. As a parent, a truism is if you want your children to listen, lower your voice.


22 thoughts on “She looked the hater in the eyes

  1. Such a simple, yet powerful act … look him in the eye, and listen. Thumbs up 👍👍 to Samantha Francine. It is she and others like her who will eventually get the message across. Excellent post, Keith … thank you!

  2. Excellent suggestions Keith, i might add that this technique of truly seeing the other person’s POV by establishing a heartfelt connecting works great in politics as well. Good post!

  3. Note to Readers: I saw Francine in an interview, but pay close attention to the last paragraph from another interview:

    “Asked about how she feels about the way people viewed the incident, Francine said, ‘I have gone through so much, experienced so much the last 27 years and in that moment everything I’ve gone through made sense.’

    She said that every person who’s yelled at her like that, every person who’s hurt her feelings, let her down or embarrassed her led her to that moment. ‘I was surrounded by so many awesome people in that moment and there was such an incredible energy—I just knew what to do,’ she said.

    Francine said she has no malice in her heart toward Snowden (the man who got in her face) and in fact delivered a gift basket to his wife on Saturday to let her know that she knows his wife doesn’t embody her husband.”

  4. Note to Readers: There is an old lesson that we should not forget. Quiet strength is a powerful force and should not be shortchanged or underestimated. Looking someone in the eye to say I am here and I see you reveals that kind of strength.

  5. Persons who will not frame their argument in its most effective way (without compromizing it) implicitly value their ego more than the(ir) cause. Snowden comes across as someone who wanted to feel the power of being intimidating more than see his opponents change their mind.

    • FlowCoef, I like the way you phrase what he was doing “the power of being intimidating.” You reminded me of an old saying “be wary of the quiet person.” The one who berates and bullies people is using false bravado. The quiet one with conviction is the one with courage and understanding. My grandfather was a brick mason who loved to fish, but said very little. When he talked, you listened as he had a point to make. Thanks for stopping by, Keith

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