“Speak out on behalf of the voiceless”

Speak out on behalf of the voiceless,
    and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.
 Speak out in order to judge with righteousness
    and to defend the needy and the poor. – Proverbs 31:8-9

I wasn’t sure that I should share this story, but some of my friends seem to think it’s important.

First off, I’m not a confrontational kind of a guy. Typically, I’d just as soon not be noticed – especially if there is some kind of a disagreement. And, if there is, I would always prefer to set out my position in positive terms rather than in opposition.

However, sometimes it is important to speak up.

So I was in a local grocery store, in the middle of running my groceries through the self-service check-out. It was busy.

(cartoon too accurate for comfort!)

Suddenly, about three lanes over, I heard a loud, angry “HEEEEYYYY!!” Yes, ALL CAPS because it really was an angry, harsh sound. It was the kind of gut level yell that could be heard all over the store.

Then it repeated, long and violent, “HEEYYYYY!!!”

I looked – involuntarily – in the direction of the noise. That’s when I saw a woman with a squirrely, squirmy, noisy toddler in tow; she appeared frightened.

“HEEEYYYYYY!” the man yelled again, as she quickly walked away. “Why don’t you put that animal on a leash?!!”

The harsh noise of rage and bigotry echoed through the sudden complete silence of the grocery store. I paused for a moment, waiting for something to happen.

I looked toward the five or six store employees standing nearby, one a manager. They were all looking at the ground. The other shoppers, too, all stood silent. The man himself looked around proudly, looking for a smile, a high five, or a nod of assent; fortunately there were none to be had.

It was wrong, period; but it didn’t help – in this particular social moment – that he was an angry white man and the woman he was yelling at was a person of color.

I sighed. “Excuse me,” I said to the person behind me and left my half-processed grocery cart before walking three checkouts over to where the silence rang most densely. I approached the man.

“I cannot tell you how inappropriate that was!” I said, as firmly yet nicely as I could, making direct eye contact.

The man looked surprised, taken aback, then confused, then worried. He turned on his heels, abandoned his shopping, exited the store quickly, and jumped in his truck.

“Sorry,” I said to the closest of the store employees, “but something had to be said.”

“Sometimes it’s just best to keep your head down,” he replied.

“No,” I replied, carefully. “Not always; not this time.”

I completed my shopping. As I left one of the managers got my attention and said, “Thank you.” This time it wasn’t because I had spent so much money.

We are all on this ride through pandemic together, friends. How we respond to one another counts. Especially how we respond to those who are vulnerable.

Peace, and I mean that in every possible way – DEREK


  1. Good for you , Derek. That was the right thing to do, yet a very courageous act as you had no idea the kind of response that this unhinged person would give you.
    We all need to stand up for what we know is right and/or wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m usually like you and usually would not have said anything either, but in this case that would have really made me mad and maybe I would have had the guts to do it. I’m sure glad you had the guts to do it. It was the right thing to do. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We have to speak up when we see these types of things happen. There is no other option. It may be hard, and we may be a bit scared; however, using a calm and firm voice is key to showing strength. I love the choice of your words. I hope this mother and her child heard someone proclaim her and her child’s worth and show reserved indignation at such bad treatment. Thank you Derek!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow that was good. My spiritual mentor is a woman of color, and I am friend with the whole family….really they are basically a second family to my husband and I. Also, most of my life has been surrounded with people of various races and ethnicities. It breaks my heart seeing injustice, especially to those who are upstanding citizens and just trying to live out the call God has placed on their lives. I pray every day I might be a light in the darkness and a voice to those who have been told to keep silent. I have always said, when you insult my friends – whether they are black, Hispanic, etc. You are insulting me…and honestly they are insulting God who created them. So on behalf of my loved ones, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good Job Derek. I am sure you would have done the same if the mother and toddler were white and the jerk was black. Jerks are jerks regardless of race.


    • You are right about that, Walter!
      At the same time, I believe the weight of our history, and the cultural precedents of men like him speaking “down” to women like her, adds a sense of urgency to the imperative to intervene.
      Always good to “hear” your voice – Derek


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