Emboldened haters not welcome

By Nishelle Gonzales
Reader Contributor

Owning a handyman and contracting company has been a great way to interact and learn about our diverse local community. We get to assist everyone from elderly folks who need a handrail installed to get around better after a fall, to young professionals adding onto their home to make room for their growing families, to newcomers who want to renovate their new purchase to make it their own, to local lifelong residents just needing their garbage disposal replaced. We will work with all kinds of folks. We’ve made lifelong friends and memories doing this for the past six years, and our call volume has never been higher.

Unfortunately, due to the divisive climate here — and everywhere else — we have had some very unnerving comments lately from many of our clients and community members on the subject of race, immigration, emigration, gun rights, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights. 

We employ anyone wanting to work. Sometimes they happen to be people of color, LGBTQ+,  women and people from other places — our own family also reflects this diverse dynamic. Recently, we took some of our Latino-based subcontractors out to breakfast at a local eatery, where a gentleman felt emboldened to tell us that our hiring of such people will be the downfall of Sandpoint as we know it. We assume he wasn’t applying for the roof job we hired these hardworking professionals for, but he was still in fear of them taking “our” jobs. 

After the comment, my partner made a big scene announcing to the entire restaurant what the man said about our fellow coworkers. The man then left, hopefully embarrassed. The next day, we mentioned this incident to our insurance agent, who then agreed with and defended the man’s very ignorant and racist statements, and added her own egregious comments while doing business with us during the workday, wearing her professional hat. We are now shopping around for a different insurance carrier. While at the Festival at Sandpoint, my son overheard some elderly people dropping the “n-word” several times, pointing to Black patrons of the concert. Heartbreaking.

If you moved here to escape your former state’s politics, then why don’t you heed your own advice to those seeking asylum at the borders and stay put to make the changes you seek in your own community? 

We have had several clients — especially ones claiming to be Christian — make ignorant comments against homeless people, people of color, felons and every other marginalized group. You know, the kind of people that Jesus himself was kickin’ it with. 

Also, if you are against mask mandates and vaccination requirements and don’t want the government involved in your health care decisions, then support women’s personal reproductive freedoms.

Another observation we’ve made is that most of the comments are made to make conversation and in pursuit of finding common enemy intimacy — connections based on hating the same people. Most of these individuals unfortunately also carry guns. The cornerstone of Christianity is faith, so your gun is a signal that you have lost yours and are terrified. If that’s not the case, then explain to me why a gun is necessary, other than hunting, if there’s no reason to shoot it when you’re armed with faith’s shield of Christ? 

It’s OK to be afraid, a lot is changing, but a gun isn’t going to save you. Your curiosity, love and kindness is the only thing that saves a community and changes hearts. Something to ponder in our very society, which has to fear white men as the majority of mass shooters and the description of the kind of person making most of these hateful statements.

So, if you have opinions about hating other people and blaming marginalized groups for your community’s unraveling, I ask you to keep it to yourself unless you want to get called out. Those comments are not welcomed here. You’re not in the company of people who feel the same, the majority believing in equal rights for everyone. Idaho is not the hotbed of ignorant thought and white supremacy you think it is. 

The people of Sandpoint do not aid and abet your ignorance, and please do not call 7B Handyman & Contracting, LLC if you want to complain about people who you are being manipulated to hate and do not want workers who show up and work hard to complete your project. After all, who is doing the majority of the hard work in this country, and who is doing the majority of the killing and hating in this country? Furthermore, if you fear people of color are taking your jobs, we are hiring today, so please step up and join the team.

If you hear these ignorant comments and don’t agree with them, then please stand up, do the right thing and say something to defend those who have to fight every day to belong just by being themselves. 

If you are a senior, disabled person, or a veteran, we offer discounts for you and would love to help you with your project. We love Sandpoint and are here to serve, just like Jesus — the carpenter with a dark complexion who hung out with the outcasts.

Nishelle Gonzales is owner of 7B Handyman & Contracting, LLC, in Sandpoint.

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