When hate struck Delano, it left its ugly mark on the home of Latanza Douglas, her husband and their three foster children. Returning home from a Sunday outing, they found that burglars not only had ransacked their new home, but vandalized it with racist graffiti and swastikas, spray-painting “Get out” near the back door. Inside was a warning note: “Next time it’s going to be fire.”
It’s not the first time Minnesota has seen this kind of vicious act, but what happened next was different. This small, prosperous, mostly white city turned out in force for a candlelight vigil to show that love is stronger than hate, that this family was, indeed, welcome.
In a city of nearly 6,000, more than 1,000 people showed up at the vigil. Mayor Dale Graunke visited the Douglas family and, through tears, asked them to stay. The local Lions Club donated a new Xbox for the kids. Gov. Mark Dayton denounced the vandalism and met with the family in a show of support.
If this were a movie, it would end with the Douglas family deciding to stay in their home and neighbors rejoicing. But life isn’t a movie. Latanza Douglas has had to weigh all the gestures of support against the very real threat to her family, to the at-risk children who she says have already endured trauma in their young lives and need peace and stability.
The family has left Delano, left the place they had called their dream home. But no good gesture is wasted. Latanza Douglas saw an outpouring of support that we can only hope will ease her pain. A community found the strength to reject the racism in its midst. The vandals know that police are hunting for them. Minnesotans know love overcomes hate. But it takes everyone.
Borrowing from the old Methodist teaching, reject racism by all the means you can. In all the ways you can. At all the times you can. For as long as ever you can.