In these tumultuous, polarizing times, it can be difficult to find examples of people affording others kindness and understanding—particularly those whom many would argue don’t deserve it.
A 17-year-old Black Lives Matter demonstrator is fast becoming an example of giving grace to someone others may be quick to villainize. Over the weekend, a video posted online showed the teen girl having a heart-to-heart with a 43-year-old Proud Boy during a demonstration in Denver, Colorado.
At first the man, who wears a Right Wing Death Squad in addition to Proud Boys gear, appears resistant to conversation. When the girl politely presses him, the two begin in an honest dialogue in which the girl demonstrates the true meaning of empathy.
“Honest to god, I’m kinda dumb, straight up,” the man says.
The girl protests that he isn’t, but he insists.
“I don’t really research much, I just kind of live by the, by the like knee jerk,” he says.
“You can change,” the girl replies. “You don’t need to call yourself dumb. You don’t need to call yourself stupid. I believe you’re very educated.”
“I believe I’m stuck in my ways,” he says.
“You’re not dumb. You’re not stupid. Who’s telling you this?” she says.
“You need to get those negative thoughts—stop. You need to know that is not true. Because it’s not true.”
The man appears to take this in, then says, “For what it’s worth, I don’t want this to be the way it is. I’m sorry for using the F-word. My apologies.”
People online were extremely impressed with the girl’s poise and compassion. A few doubted the man’s sincerity, but most thought he was being truthful.
The Proud Boys are a noted extremist group of self-described “western chauvinists.” Members deny it, but many have accused it of being racist.
Many who weighed in on the video were particularly wowed by the girl’s youth.
“At 17 I doubt I’d had the balls to do that. I’m proud of most American youth today. Great job!” one Twitter user commented on the original video posted by Vixxy Vyohr.
In this season of Thanksgiving, this moment might just be what the world needs.