“White Flour”: Book ReviewBooks — By Larry Shallenberger on July 16, 2012 at 8:19 am
This week I read White Flour by David LaMotte to my nine-year-old. It’s a book about the best way to fight hate, in this case, racism. Apparently, I need to read the book again after reflecting on my visceral reaction to the news that a “pastor” is hosted a white supremacist rally in Alabama, complete with a burning cross. My first three responses were “I’d love to beat that man down.”
Full disclosure, I grew up in a multi-racial home and I’m part of multi-racial home now. I don’t tolerate racism well. I remember going to the movies with my sister growing up and getting dirty looks from by-passers who assumed we were dating. This is one of those sins that pushes a button in me that causes me to forget God’s grace can change anyone. A few years ago, I noticed a pick up truck on the side of the road and a man struggling to change his tire in the rain. I pulled over to help him, noticed the Confederate flag decal on the back window, and then sped off. I know there should grace for this too. I’m just not there yet. Someday. Right now, I can speak truth on the topic, but I struggle with the love.
White flour tells the truth story of a town that knew fighting hate with hate was futile. In 2007, The Klu Klux Klan visted Knoxville, TN and were thwarted by a group of clowns. Each time the Klan shouted “White Power”, the clowns pretended to misunderstand them.
Each misunderstanding was met with a choreographed routine.
The clowns exploded bags of white flour over themselves.
They mimed taking a shower.
They showered white flowers into the air an onto the Klansmen.
Frustrated by their inability to intimidate or inspire the crowd, the cowardly hatemongers gave up their demonstration and left.
After I closed the book, my son scratched his head totally confused. I had to explain racism to him and that there was and is a terrorist group called the KKK. I had to explain why God gets angry at racism and how everyone was made in God’s image and likeness.
And then I had to explain how, sometimes, laughing at evil defangs it.
My son couldnt’ believe this was a true story and that it took clowns to turn the KKK away. This is because non-violent resistance is so counter intuitive and hateful responses like mine are so instinctive. But this is why America’s only Christian martyr, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was successful in his energies where others failed. He embodied the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount.
And so did the clowns of Knoxville, TN.
Someday, I will to.
I heartily recommend this children’s books to parents, educators, and teachers.
I received a free copy of “White Flour” from the publisher with no expectation of providing anything other than my honest opinions of the book.