Thursday, August 20, 2015
It's Not Perfect But It Is Better:
I know that we live in racially charged times. I know that there is racism. I know that there is police brutality. A few months ago, I had an incident that could be interpreted either as a racism or possibly not. (This was NOT with the police. My last involvement with the police was the Placer County Sheriff last Halloween and they were nothing but courteous and professional.) It's my M.O. to take the high road. I try to neither light a fire where there is no fuel nor throw gasoline on a camp fire. In other words, if there wasn't if it wasn't there I'm not going to bring race into the incident. And if it WAS actually racially motivated I wasn't about to confirm any negative thoughts this person had about black people.
I have lived in Auburn Ca which is in Placer County and is decidedly conservative as am I for the record. Auburn County . I am obviously black, which you can see at first glance and I am decidedly conservative which you probably wouldn't assume by looking at my skin color. That said, please allow me to relate my experience today.
I was in the grocery store while being black and wearing a Dodger cap in this pretty conservative, Northern California town. And white gentleman, probably 15-20 years my senior, comes up to be and starts talking to be about the changes going on in the Dodger's organization. As an expatriate Angeleno it's always nice to meet a kindred spirit. But not as we continued to talk I found out he was a Giant's fan. I was quite surprised. I mean, that's theoretically two strikes against me from the get go. Yet this guy seeks me out in the middle of the store, not in line, to talk to. He didn't see me as a black man and Dodger fan. He saw me as a man and a baseball fan.
Next stop, the checkout line. A checker sees a line and goes to open his register, inviting the white lady approximately 10 years my senior to follow. I happened to know the checker personally and said "I'm right behind you". She had a full cart and saw my four items and said I could go ahead of her. I told her that wasn't my intent I just wanted to hang out with that checker. She insisted I go ahead. I thanked her then and again as I left. She related to me as a human being that she didn't mind showing a small kindness, even at her slight inconvenience.
This has been my experience from here to the Carolinas and back. (I did notice a huge difference in a six-year gap between visits to Atlanta. From puzzlement ,but not aggression, at seeing my college roommate, his wife and myself walking around town together in 1996, to no reaction walking around with them and my white wife six years later.) *She is my only wife, for you literalists out there.
Again all this is to say I'm know there is a long way to go in regard to race relations in our country. But I have seen far, far more instances of white people relating to me like I was a human being as opposed to acting as though I was a blight on their community or some other racist reaction. I know that is not always the case. I know there are racists out there. (And they come in every color.) But I treat people well and for the very most part that is how I am treated. That includes white police officers even when I have been DWB in my Sentra full of gear at 3:00 AM in South Pasadena, as a young man. Or in the compromising position of looking like I could have been trying to steal a car. It was my car. But the person that called the police was a friend of mine that from their vantage point could only see legs sticking out of my car and thought someone of indeterminable color was trying to steal my car... Or worse still, making out with a white girl in a car as an even younger man... For the record, I have dated girls/women of at least three different ethnicities in my lifetime because color has never mattered just content of character. The only reason I think of or refer to my wife as white is to occasionally make a point or observation. Other than that, she is the love of my life and my greatest good. One of the most beautiful things about my daughter's wedding was the fact that, because of the ethnic background of both sets of parents, if a stranger had walked in they would've had no way to tell which side was the bride's and which side was the groom's. That was a room full of contented characters.
We can all celebrate our heritage and that's all good. Ethnic and other distinctions exist and even matter to a point. If for no other reason than to be able to describe Person A to Person B that hasn't any idea of what Person A looks like. Saying, "Person A is heighted and has mass and width" doesn't really help. But at the end of the day we all bleed red and we're all worthy of a great deal of respect as a human being. (Until and unless we prove otherwise and THEN we should be treated a degree of human decency.) There are really two races. The decent and the indecent. If we treat each decently we are more likely to be treated decently. Even by those who would want to treat us poorly for whatever reason. And when we come across the indecent we should, hard as it is, take the high ground.
I' m not saying it's all good or that things are perfect. But I am saying things are better. And it's up to all of to push things in the right direction.
I love you all!