Proud Boys tore down, stomped on, and set fire to Black churches' BLM signs—and it's barely news

Last weekend, in the wake of the Supreme Court dismissal of a Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, the Proud Boys gathered in Washington D.C. for a "Stop the Steal" rally. The irony in the slogan being lost on them, the far-right group took to the streets, and in the process, showed the world that they really are as racist as they are accused of being.

The Proud Boys frequently insist that they are not racist and not the same as white nationalists. They are a male-only group that describes themselves as "Western chauvinists," which essentially means they whine about equality movements infringing on their identity as the obviously superior descendants of Western Civilization's founders—which is a roundabout way of saying "yeah, we're pretty much racist."

The group tries to shield itself from accusations of racism by highlighting the racial identity of their Afro-Cuban chairman, Enrique Torres, in the organizational equivalent of "I can't be racist—I have Black family members!" But considering the fact that a previous Proud Boy member posted a whole screed about staging a coup in the group to officially recognize it as anti-Semitic white nationalists...welp.

Besides, it's pretty hard to argue that you're not racist when you gleefully vandalize Black churches, tearing signs that say "Black Lives Matter" off of them and then celebrating as you desecrate them. The Proud Boys engaged in this vandalism at two Washington D.C. churches, including the oldest Black Methodist church in the city. They ripped down large Black Lives Matter banners, breaking some apart, stomp all over one of them, and setting another one on fire.




Asbury United Methodist Church issued a statement from Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills that highlights the history of racism with the church, which was founded decades before the Civil War. It's a beautiful message of resilience, but it's infuriating that it had to be written in the first place. It reads:

Since 1836, Asbury United Methodist Church has stood at the corner of 11&K Streets NW, Washington, DC. We are a resilient people who have trusted in God through slavery and the Underground Railroad, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, and now as we face an apparent rise in white supremacy.

Last night demonstrators who were part of the MAGA gatherings tore down our Black Lives Matter sign and literally burned it in the street. The sign burning was captured on Twitter. It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames. For me it was reminiscent of cross burnings. Seeing this act on video made me both indignant and determined to fight the evil that has reared its ugly head. We had been so confident that no one would ever vandalize the church, but it has happened.

We are a people of faith. As horrible and disturbing as this is for us now—it doesn't compare with the challenges and fears the men and women who started Asbury, 184 years ago, faced. So, we will move forward, undaunted in our assurance that Black Lives Matter and we are obligated to continue to shout that truth without ceasing. We are assured that our church is surrounded by God's grace and mercy.

Sadly, we must point out that if this was a marauding group of men of color going through the city, and destroying property, they would have been followed and arrested. We are especially alarmed that this violence is not being denounced at the highest levels of our nation and instead the leaders of this movement are being invited to the White House.

Asbury United Methodist Church abhors violence of any kind. We call upon all to join us in prayer for our community, church, and the people who are responsible for this hateful behavior. We believe this is a wakeup call for all to be more vigilant and committed to anti-racism and building a beloved community, and we invite you to join us. Our congregation will continue to stand steadfast—"we will not be moved." We press on in the name of the Lord!"

The question of whether these acts are racist isn't up for debate. If your understanding of Black Lives Matter is so skewed that you decry it as a "Marxist" organization or movement—which is how Tarrio himself describes it—then you either haven't been listening to enough voices in the anti-racism world or you've been taken by racist propaganda. And if you do understand that the phrase Black Lives Matter literally just means that Black people's lives do not matter less than other people's, and you choose to destroy any and all expressions of that phrase, that's most definitely racist. There's a reason the incidents are being investigated as hate crimes.

For those who feel tempted to say, "Well what about the destruction of property that ANTIFA/BLM engaged in?" here are some thoughts on that whataboutism:

First, let's be clear that the Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA movements are two entirely separate things. And Black Lives Matter isn't one monolithic thing, but rather a broad movement that includes some organizations that bear the name, and a whole lot more people who support the message of anti-racism. As far as violence, the BLM protests this spring and summer were enormous, widespread, and almost entirely peaceful. The individual spates of rioting and looting, despite being broadcast all over the media and pushed hard by certain right-wing outlets, were not a defining feature of the BLM movement at all—especially considering how much of the violence was actually carried out by white supremacists and Boogaloo Bois intent on undermining the BLM message.

ANTIFA, on the other hand, is its own movement with its own ideology and methods. For those who don't understand what those are, the gist is "Fascism needs to be fought by whatever means necessary." You don't have to agree with their methods—I myself don't—but being against ANTIFA's ideology is basically like saying "Nah, fascism is fine!"

While all acts of violence and destruction are wrong and ultimately counterproductive, they're not all equivalent. Some acts of violence are just dumb humans being dumb humans, regardless of identity or ideology, but some are purposeful statements. There's a difference between a historically oppressed people making a statement about ongoing injustice by desecrating a symbol of their historical oppression, and a group of people making a statement by desecrating messages of equality and justice from the churches of historically oppressed people. One is an expression of liberation from the chains of injustice; the other is an intimidating rattling of those same chains. While I don't condone violence or destruction of any kind, it's disingenuous to create false equivalencies between people who are fighting for equality and justice and people who are fighting against it.

And for a final look at how the Proud Boys operate, check out how they reacted when they thought people who actually think Black lives matter were coming toward them.

If this is what "being proud of Western Civilization" looks like, that's a sad statement about Western Civilization. These actions should be condemned by all.

Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
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Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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Katie Schieffer is a mom of a 9-year-old who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after spending some time in the ICU. Diabetes is a nuisance of a disease on its own, requiring blood sugar checks and injections of insulin several times a day. It can also be expensive to maintain—especially as the cost of insulin (which is actually quite inexpensive to make) has risen exponentially.

Schieffer shared an emotional video on TikTok after she'd gone to the pharmacy to pick up her son's insulin and was smacked with a bill for $1000. "I couldn't pay for it," she says through tears in the video. "I now have to go in and tell my 9-year-old son I couldn't pay for it."

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Here in the U.S. many of us had our eyes glued to the news yesterday as a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, disrupting a constitutionally-mandated session of Congress and sending lawmakers into hiding. We watched insurrectionists raise a Trump flag on the outside of the building, flinched at the Confederate flag being marched through its hallowed halls, and witnessed the desecration of our democracy in real-time.

It was a huge and horrifying day in our history. Our own citizens attacking our own government, all because the president refuses to accept that he lost an election. In their minds, they are patriots defending democracy from an illegitimate election. In reality, they are terrorists destroying the foundations of what makes America great.

The disconnect between what these people believe and actual reality could not be starker. Years of misinformation and disinformation, bald-faced lie upon bald-faced lie, and conspiracy theory upon conspiracy theory have led to this place. It was predictable. It should have been preventable. But it was still stunning to witness.

As an American, it's a little hard to digest in its entirety. We've been in this weird space of "alternative facts" for years, and have grown accustomed to hearing blatant lies pushed as truth. We've gotten used to being gaslit daily, from the highest office in the land. That constant deluge of falsehood has an effect on our psyches, whether we fall on the side of eating it up like candy or spitting it out like the poison it is.

So seeing what happened at the Capitol through the eyes of another country's media is really something.

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Nearly a year into the deadliest pandemic in a century, the U.S. is still battling not only the virus, but Americans living in denial of reality as well.

Take this video of a group of anti-maskers who stood in front of a Trader Joe's entrance and tried to argue that they had every right to shop there without masks. The woman narrating the video states that they have "a right to commerce" (they don't—there's literally no such right), that Trader Joe's doesn't have the right to require masks (they do—it's their store), that the mandate to wear masks in public places can't be enforced because it's not a real law (it can—), and that they were not there to demonstrate, but just to buy groceries (umm, right).

The manager, to his credit, did what he could to calmly talk with these people while also making it clear that they were not going to enter the store without a mask.

"The point you're trying to make isn't going to be made with us," he said. "It can be made with your government...I am not here to debate policy. I totally respect for you to think anything you want to think...my job, as manager of the store is to enforce the mandate, whether you believe in it or not."


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