The Summerland community came together with an amazing show of support in an anti-racist car parade for the Lekhi family, whose home had been vandalized and sprayed with racist graffiti.
During the parade, a visitor to Summerland had carelessly displayed the Confederate flag, which is often associated with slavery and racism. The visitor later apologized to Mayor Toni Boot for any harm his actions during the parade, had caused the community.
Mayor Boot later visited Your Dollar Store and More where the visitor indicated he had bought the Confederate flag.
However, instead of amicably discussing the sale of the Confederate flag with the owner of the store, Allan Carter, Mayor Boot accused Carter of “perpetuating racism in our town.” (Summerland Review July 23, 2020)
Perhaps it was just misjudgment on Mayor Boot’s part that she didn’t first seek to understand why the bandanas with the Confederate emblem printed on them were in the store in the first place.
A few months back Allan Carter explained, he had requested hundreds of bandanas with a variety of designs from his supplier, when the public was in need of face coverings.
It was Carter’s own admission that he had made a “poor decision” by leaving the Confederate bandanas for sale in his store, along with the hundreds of other bandanas.
It must be obvious that Allen Carter, a well-respected business owner and supporter of organizations in this community, would not purposefully “perpetuate racism in our town.”
This situation could have been resolved without blame and degradation.
Let not the filmed display of Mayor Boot cutting up the remaining Confederate bandanas in front of Carter’s store, overshadow the spirit of unity and goodwill this community extended to the Lekhi family.
The province-wide media attention sought by Mayor Boot to film the cutting up of the Confederate bandanas will do absolutely nothing to effectively address racism in this community.
This error in judgment will only deepen the divide. It is evident that the people of Summerland have the courage and willingness to address racism in constructive ways.
Let us continually strive for unity in these most difficult times.
Sandra and John Nicholson