President Trump asked a 7-year-old whether she believed in Santa. After she responded “yes,” he told her it was “marginal” for a girl her age to believe. I couldn’t watch or listen to the video, but it shook my core. I wondered if he might next reveal the tooth fairy and Easter Bunny are hoaxes.

The little girl’s parents reported, before retiring, she put out milk and cookies Christmas Eve, “just in case.”

For 2019, may resiliency carry us. Two stories follow which pave the way.

There is a Santa Claus; you just need to know where to look.

My resolution with this column: less Trump, more humanity.


The first story is about a lesbian couple from Chicago area, whose “rainbow flag” was swiped this holiday season. The colorful flag no longer flies proudly in their back yard; instead, replaced by an American flag, sending a chilling message to the family that they did not belong in this suburban neighborhood.

What happened next to Casey Handal and Zadette Rosado was an example of, “when given lemons, turn them into lemonade.” After hard conversations with their young daughters, who first believed the rainbow flags were taken because “someone liked them so much,” they turned to neighbors, posting on a neighborhood page what happened.

Thinking the symbolism of switching their gay pride flag to an American flag was to make the point they were “un-American,” Handal and Rosado wanted to affirm this was not so, promising neighbors they are “proud Americans.”

One neighbor ordered a flag to hang at her house, and some extras; she was not a close friend but instinctively knew what to do. Then, the neighborhood responded in the best way possible. Rainbow flags began appearing all over the neighborhood, on mailboxes, lawns, and plant boxes, extinguishing the fires of fear, presenting a holiday message that love is a potent repellent to hate.

Instead of isolation, another neighbor approached them about their son coming out to them. Others stepped up, becoming Secret Santas, leaving gifts for the 7- and 9-year-old girls, telling reporters the candy, coffee mugs, socks would continue until New Year’s Eve, the day that Handal and Rosado have on their calendars to get married.

The best way to fight intolerance and hate is with tolerance and love. If that fails, use more tolerance and love. Handal said it best: “I think it makes it worthwhile if this crummy thing leads to spreading joy and happiness in the world.”


Next up is the case of missing hair.

During a high school wrestling tournament, Andrew Johnson, an African-American 16-year-old, was told to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit. This occurred minutes before his scheduled match; Andrew’s coach tried discussing it, but instead the referee started the injury clock, ensuring a disqualification if the demand was not met in 90 seconds. Johnson relented, a team trainer quickly lopping off his hair, and with it, some of his identity.

Before the ruling, Johnson was wearing head covering; something he’d done all year. New Jersey rules call for that, and further, women wrestlers in the state do the same and have never been asked to cut off long hair.

The referee, Alan Maloney, a Caucasian, has past history when it comes to racism. In 2016 he allegedly directed a racial slur at a black referee, who then slammed him to the ground; both were suspended, a decision later overturned.

Johnson had a split-second to make a decision; one that was his, unpersuaded by coaches or teammates; several comforted him with encouragement as his dreadlocks fell to the ground.

Gov. Phil Murphy weighed in: “No student should have to choose between their identity and playing sports.”

Andrew’s family issued a statement: “Andrew has been deeply moved by the thunderous outpouring of unsolicited support — including an Olympic wrestler, leading civil rights advocates and elected officials — after this shocking pre-match ultimatum.”

As the dust settles, one wonders how far have we come since Rosa Parks and why is this an issue at all?

In 2019, let’s find paths that bring us together so we can stand up to racism and bullying.

When we don’t, we are the problem. When we do, we become the solution.


“Quite frankly I talk about the fact that I'm a feminist as often as I can, and every time I do it gets huge reaction and media reacts and the Twitterverse explodes and things like that, because here I am saying I'm a feminist. I will keep saying that until there is no more reaction when I say it, because that's where we want to get to.” — Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada (b. 25 Dec 1971)


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Disclosure: Reade Brower is owner of these newspapers. The opinions expressed in his columns are his own, and do not represent the newspapers, or their editorial board.