Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Dilemma

I came home from work today, to find 2 bags of gifts in my dining room.

Not beanies.

They're handmade gifts.

For soldiers.

For care packages.

There's an oddity about these gifts. But they're handmade, and there are hundreds of them. Maybe a thousand.

I questioned Brian, and he told me a lady dropped them off, and left it at that. At dinner though, I pushed him: where did these things come from?

Houston, we have a problem. A woman did drop off hundreds of her handmade gifts for soldiers. She proceeded then, to spew prejudice and hatred for other races to my kid, bashing pretty much everyone.

She boycotts the St. Joseph Dairy Queen, she said, because it's run by an Arab family (her words). She spoke of "The" Blacks and "The" Mexicans, and when my new neighbors of Indian descent drove into their driveway, she hissed "Foreigners!!!" She doesn't like "The Foreigners."

Brian and John were reeling when she left, and I was dead on the floor after they relayed the story to me.

I didn't even see this woman, and yet I imagine her, toiling over these projects. She imagines herself donating time and supplies, for the troops. She is doing a patriotic thing, dropping them off, at my home.

Her gift.

Is her good intent enough?

Does good intent wrought with hatred and prejudice even count as good intent?

I walk around those two bags, tonight, like they're filed with vipers. They reek of evil and lack of acceptance. They contaminate every fiber of what our project is about, part of which is ignoring cultural and social barriers and accepting our differences.

I will not put them in my care package to my soldier-babies. Bad Juju.
Madam: If you read this blog, I respectfully apologize: Your packages have been returned to my porch. I return them to you. You may pick them up, and mail them yourself.

They do not represent me.

I simply cannot.

Oh, and don't bother ringing the doorbell.

I'll be at Dairy Queen. In St. Joseph.


  1. I think you did the right thing. Doing the right thing isn't always an easy decision, especially when the wrong thing includes doing some good.

    In this case the 'some good' gets trumped by potentially helping a racist and hateful woman feel okay about her racism and hateful ideation... and every care package would probably feel tainted by it.

    Such behavior shouldn't be tolerated as it leads to mentalities like this: It Just Goes To Show...

  2. Tough call. Half of me thought 'well, you have them so you should send them' but then I thought about what would have happened if I had been there to personally take them off her hands: I would have given them straight back to her.

    I'm proud of you.

  3. Our troops don't need the bad juju!!! I'm with you Lori, put them on the porch and hope they go away.

  4. "Foreigners!!!"

    I could be in trouble!

  5. Good for you. Your project is not about that prejudice and hatred.

  6. StFarmer7:36 AM

    I'm speechless, almost. It's scary to think of how many people share that lady's views.

  7. Good for you except one thing -- you have no need to apologize to that close minded hateful person.

    It isn't like you burned them or tossed them. They are there for her to take back. Maybe, maybe with some retrospect about her fear and ignorant beliefs - but probably not.

  8. Oh, and it is also scary that she knows where you live. Be careful.

  9. there's always someone to test your resolve, to challenge the mission, and ultimately lead you to strengthen your position. I've never known you to compromise your integrity and after careful consideration of her "gift" you've emerged steadfast. Huzzah!

  10. Anonymous8:48 AM

    You continue to amaze me!! You are a much strong person then I am or could ever hope to be. With all you have done and continue to do your son should be very proud to have you as his mother (which I am sure he is).

  11. Anonymous8:57 AM

    the term "bad juju" sounds racist to me? what do u think?

  12. I think it's a cultural (West African in origin), but definitely not racist. It's a legitimate term referring to magical power (good or evil) attributed to an object.

    Though I admittedly don't believe in evil spells, bad juju sums up how the package makes me feel.

    Is "karma" better?

  13. Anonymous9:36 AM

    hhmmm? thanks for the clarification. i am not sure... i guess the term makes me think of hollywood exaggerated stereotypes of "black people" pounding on drums to do "bad juju." i guess the term places an image in my head that i do not like. like uneducated, tribal people who do not know any better. maybe hollywood and popular culture has poisoned me??? karma seems like a more neutral word, but i really do not know. if the word meant to the general public what you wrote about an object that has power -- either good or bad -- then it works, but for some reason, the term makes me think of unsophisticated magic-ridden people (again based on Hollywood). I guess i just try extra hard to be as careful as possible with word choice bcuz of people like that lady who dropped off the gifts (tainted with hate!), and because of the world we live in today. enough from me (my boss just arrived!). thanks.

  14. Anonymous9:43 AM

  15. I concur, bad juju ... to have such a closed mind and vulgar thoughts, taint the gesture she was trying to make.

  16. I am constantly disappointed by bigoted thoughts and words - and agree that accepting these gifts on behalf of the soldiers has a sort of tacit agreement attached. I wonder - does she realize how diverse our troops are? And I wonder, would the boys like what she made? If so, maybe it would be an "up yours" to her if you did send them to our wonderfully diverse and courageous soldiers.

    Just thinking out loud (well, so to speak)...

  17. Don't take the comments personally Lori. There are always people who will pick apart what you say and look for the bad in everything.

    We know you mean no harm and no hate and Brian knows.

  18. holy crap.
    I probably would have taken the stuff and then regretted it for months/years or whenever I looked back on the project as a whole.

    Good for you. A stressful decision, but one you will be able to look back on with pride.

  19. You did the right thing, gnight girl. (And just ignore the nitpickers.)

  20. Miz Liz1:40 PM

    Good for you Lori.Trust your instincts; they're spot on.

  21. I have just started reading this
    blog. I live in Missouri, but visit C-U from time to time.

    That is an interesting moral dilemma you mention. What if the woman had donated $1,000.00 to your cause? What if it was $1,000,000.00? Would the amount of money involved change your thinking? Even a little?

    Also, what if she had not mentioned anything and you accepted the donation, but found out later that she was a racist? Would you return the items then?

    If I am understanding you correctly, you felt bad karma in
    accepting the items once you found out about her views on a certain subject - race. What other views are unacceptable in donors? Would you accept donations from people who are avowed pacifists and who still do not know why we invaded, and continue to occupy, Iraq? Would you accept donations from people who are clearly attention-seekers? Where do you draw the line? If the person is silent and does not state any "unacceptable" views, is her donation fine? Even if she is (silently) a racist, a dog-fighting gambler, a pedophile, a pacifist and an Esquire regular?

  22. john... I think it is possible to draw a line between acceptable differences in opinion and others that you just cannot bring yourself to be associated with. Either way the other person is free to hold their opinions, it is, after all, still a free country. But others are still free to approve, disapprove, criticize, etc.

    Politicians run into similar dilemmas all the time when one of their donors or supporters turns out to have done or said something that seriously conflicts with their message.

    The money, whether it be a few bucks or thousands, almost always gets returned. Some differences of opinion just cross the line... not enough to prohibit, but certainly enough to openly discourage.

    Just my 2 cents.

  23. Oh my...very very tough call...

    I don't know what I would do in said situation...

    but I do believe in the juju stuff...and I think your decision is for the best....


  24. John,
    Surely none of us would stand up to anyone's expectations if our true feelings and prejudices were worn on the outside. Thats why we keep our mouths shut and try to stay in context.

    I have my own prejudices that I know are wrong and I make an effort to contain them and not allow them to be passed to my children, and certainly not to some stranger.

    This woman chose to include her hateful tirade with the delivery of the goods. It in fact became part of what she was dropping off. Handmade Beenies, Heartmade JuJu. The woman OFFERED this information, noone was looking for it or screening donors.

  25. John, your questions certainly did already cross my mind; hence the dilemma. Yes, I'd considered: What if she'd handed me two big 'ol bags of money!

    I'd have handed them back to her in a heartbeat, after her comments about my neighbors, and the rest.

    There are a million hypothetical situations, and what it boils down to, for me, is that my decision isn't based on a hypothetical situation.

    I don't have a problem with her merrily mailing them with her own name on them. Anyone else that would feel better about shipping them off: they're on my porch. Come 'n get 'em.

    I just can't put my name on 'em.

  26. I'd have offered her some oreos with easy cheese. That will soften any hard disposition.

  27. PB: Sigh, now you have me rethinking everything; I didn't even consider oreos and easy cheese.

  28. It's hard to hate anybody when you've got chocolate stuck in your teeth and cream cheese on the end of your nose.

  29. Anonymous2:09 AM

    Why stop with refusing her gifts? Why not arrest her for “hate speech” and put her in prison? Oh, I forgot, we’re not quite yet at the point in this country where people are automatically imprisoned for their thoughts and speech, although indeed we are getting close.

    You liberal blogger critters would love the speech and thought-control laws in Canada and about a dozen European countries.

    But don’t fret GnightGirl; just one or two more election cycles, and you people will have the votes to put that dangerous woman from St. Joseph in federal prison!

  30. StFarmer7:43 AM

    Now I know why I'm always branded a liberal.... it must be because I think prejudice is wrong.

  31. This was a tough call to make. I personaly feel you did the right thing. What kept running through my mind was.. is she giving these to support troups she feels are eliminating/killing "the problem"? i.e."The Arabs"? Is she making the donation for the right reasons? or for her own bent views of other cultures?

  32. Angela Reinhart2:04 PM much to process.

    First of all, Lori, you did what you felt was right with the gift. It doesn't mean that we all would have done the same thing and everyone has their own opinion....this is America, we're able to do that! ; )

    Secondly, I love how these anonymous people leave these questions/comments/opinions and omit their names.....again, this is America and they're able to do that, but if you're going to put it out there people, leave your name - put your name on your cause/beliefs/opinions.

    Lastly, for those of you that didn't look at the wikepedia "juju" description, you might be interested in this - Juju is a term used in the United States military (especially in Infantry and combat arms) to describe a superstition or behavior which is believed to put a person at a greater or less risk for bodily harm. Usually used in the negative context, i.e. “bad Juju”.

    Juju as military slang is distinct from behavior which can logically increase or decrease a person's chances for injury. While not wearing a helmet can be considered “bad juju”, it is because the action tempts fate rather than because it makes the person more vulnerable to head injury. Juju can also be assigned to signs such as unusual dreams or occurrences. It is often used in reference to behavior indicative of enemy activity, such as a lack of people in a normally crowded market. Juju also has a karmic element to it, especially when relating to people who have been injured. Treating an injured civilian, especially a child, is “good juju”. Stealing personal effects or making fun of a soldier that was injured or killed is considered to be “very bad juju”.

    So using the term "juju" is very appropriate in this case! ; )

  33. You completely did the right thing Lori.

    Word about Toys for Troops must be getting around now that some crazies seem to have found your site. :)

    Keep it up, girl.

  34. Oh, I forgot to add...

    Just to further highlight this woman's complete ignorance I'm *pretty sure* that the people who run the Dairy Queen in St. Joe are Indian, not Arab. I'm sure they are just all "brown skins" to her, though.

    -Someone from St. Joseph who ISN'T racist. (Of course, there is a reason I left and vowed never to return.)

  35. Anonymous10:37 PM

    4 things:
    1: not all anons are "crazies."
    2: some people must be anonymous for various reasons.
    3: lori is responding thoughtfully and gracefully to all comments, anon or named. she is above the silly banter of..
    4: ...some named bloggers who are being insensitive (my euphemism for rude) to some very well-meaning anon folks.
    5: let us stay at Lori's level, please.

  36. Could donate them to an inner city daycare center....that'd put them in appreciative hands and nullified the ju-ju. (I think)

  37. They are not, for the record, toys. I've avoided stating what the donation was, because I don't mean to criticize her efforts. I stated that it was an odd donation. I'll say only that they are of little use for soldier or child.


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