Without having been there, and based on the information already out there, this is my best guess as to what went down between the Covington High School kids and Native American war veteran, Nathan Phillips, at the DC March for Life on January 18, 2019.
- In the beginning, based on a whole slew of videos, it seems that there was a small group of Black Israelites going up to various people saying very inflammatory and aggressive things. The group of Covington kids appeared to be one of their targets, and there was some sort of a back and forth.
- Nathan sees the large group of mainly white Covington kids wearing MAGA hats, some singing and dancing, and some engaging with the small group of Black Israelites.
- Nathan approaches the kids, likely based on the incorrect assumption (and primed to have this assumption by the divisiveness of our country) that the Covington kids were the aggressors and picking on the small group of Black Israelites.
- Nathan places himself in front of the kids, probably wanting to protect the Black Israelites, not knowing they were the actual aggressors.
- The Covington kid, probably primed for confrontation after being riled up by the Black Israelites and the divisiveness of our country, waves his friends down because…he got this.
- The Covington kid and Nathan lock in a head-to-head Jedi mind trick game of chicken, where the Covington kid stares down Nathan with a degrading smirk (his version of Nathan’s beating drum), and Nathan beats the drum in the kid’s face. I mean, for either of them, not a very comfortable situation.
- During this head-to-head Jedi mind trick game of chicken, supporters from each side start throwing verbal punches. Because, at this point, no one really knows what is going on, but they know they are angry.
Thus, it makes sense that the Covington kid is saying that he felt Nathan picked them out, and Nathan still believes the Covington kids were the aggressors. Like it or not, that bright red MAGA hat has become a symbol of fear–the type you cross the street over if you are not white. This MAGA hat, especially sitting on the head of a white person, carries with it an apparent authority of the White House and white power. If I were at the rally and looked over not having audio or context, I might also incorrectly assume that the Covington kids were picking on the small group of Black Israelites and want to intervene.
Unfortunately, in these dark, divisive times, there has to be a winner and a loser. There isn’t much room for understanding and misunderstandings. There also isn’t much room for shared accountability, where many people are at fault:
- Black Israelites picking on people.
- Nathan, assuming that the Covington kids were picking on the Black Israelites.
- The Covington kid, staring down Nathan.
- No Covington chaperone to step in, if they were present, to stop this Jedi mind trick game of chicken.
- Nathan, beating the drum in the Covington kid’s face.
- Everyone, including myself, making assumptions about what happened before all the information has come out.
Just consider it.
We all have biases, but we have the ability to look beyond them. We can be better. All we have to do is listen, think, and empathize. I know, just impossible, right?