After Julius Long hugged it out with Randy Furniss and guided him away from an angry crowd Thursday, the pair managed to create a friendship.
Julius Long said he experienced “black privilege” for the first time Thursday, when he attended the Richard Spencer protest and saw the way people were treating Randy Furniss, a Spencer supporter.
“When I saw him being punched and people spitting and calling him all types of racial slurs, I saw reverse racism,” he said. “He stands for what he believes in and he was doing a nonviolent protest and just walking.”
Furniss said that his only intention when he went came to the Phillips Center was to hear what Spencer had to say, but that once people began to get agitated by his shirt, which had swastikas on it, all the Umatilla man could do was smile and stay silent.
“They were hitting me on the back of the head and spitting on me,” he said. “It wasn’t black people, it was white people, they were getting everybody riled up.”
Once Furniss met Long though, things began to change. Long helped usher Furniss out of the fray, and both found themselves outside of the protest area.
“What he did, he rised (sic) up and above what anyone else was doing,” Furniss recognized. “He set a high bar of standard because he understood what I was going through.”
Though Furniss and Julius Long don’t necessarily share political views, Long said he was surprised to find — as they quickly became acquainted — they had a lot in common.
“We were out there for the same reason, it was my first rally, it was his first rally and he wanted to know what Richard Spencer was talking about,” Long said. “He opened me up to know more about the Aryan nation and what they stood for. All Black Panthers and other communities stand for a lot of the same things, bettering their communities.”
Long, an entertainer in Gainesville who said he’s working on a book, said after meeting Furniss, he plans to write a new chapter in his book dedicated to their experience, and suggested the duo could co-write a book.
“From the Nazi eyes and the African mind,” he said.
Another thing the new friends want to put together in the future is a panel session with the University of Florida.
“If we sit down and we can talk about our concerns and our issues, the things we like and dislike about our communities, that builds dialogue,” said Long, the son of longtime county commissioner Rodney Long. “What we did was, we were able to break the barriers and to communicate and to have understanding.”
Rodney Long said his son told him he wanted to go to see Spencer speak and talk to him to understand his views. But once Julius Long saw how hundreds of angry people were treating Furniss, he said his son knew he had to step in and help.
“He kind of helped the guy (Furniss) get away from a volatile situation and what I kept telling him was if you have hate and he has hate, you can’t communicate,” the elder Long said. “The only thing that can overcome hate is love, somebody has to be able to love a person in spite of what their differences are in order for you to be able to communicate.”
This is a perfect example of someone utilizing the gift of integrative thinking, seeing from the eyes of an opposite perspective and through the use of love coming to terms and finding common ground. Through this form of thinking, we will realize that hate has no place in our society and that no matter our differences, we may find commonalities and love for each other to help us move forward positively and unified.