In light of all the issues that have occurred of late on a national and international scale, I was reminded of a story about the color of racism that happened a very long time ago. It seems as pertinent today as it did then. As it is with all my stories, there is a lesson. I will leave it to you to surmise what that lesson is for you.
Color of Racism
It was lunchtime on a quiet day at a busy popular local coffee shop. I had been out on a few sales calls and needed to grab a quick bite. A black waitress friend I knew well showed me to a table, we exchanged a bit of gossip, laughed and I placed my usual order. In came a young black man, hat askew with the swagger of a young man whose exaggerated confidence doesn’t yet fit his life’s experiences. He was led to a table and offered a menu. In the back of the restaurant sat a young white female police officer. Across from her was a young black kid. They appeared to be in a friendly conversation.
The young black man with the hat askew got up from his table and sauntered over to the white female police officer, got in her face and loudly called her a “racist bitch pig” then turned to the young black kid saying he should “not be sitting with this white trash to come over and sit with a brother where he belonged.” Wide eyed, the young black kid looked at the black man and then at the woman cop and stared down at his food. The female police officer just glared at the black man. Speaking to the young black kid, the black man said “suit yourself” and walked back to his table.
Shortly after, the female officer talked to the black waitress while writing something on a piece of paper. She handed the waitress the folded note, paid her bill and left the restaurant with her arm around the young black kid. As she left, the black man yelled at her back calling her “white trash racist pig.” All who were in the restaurant (from all walks of life) were dead quiet.
The black waitress walked over to the black man, spoke to him quietly and then handed him the note. He read the note, stared at the waitress, said nothing, quickly finished his meal and hastily left the restaurant. All eyes were on the black man and the waitress during the whole exchange. After the black man left, a quiet murmur could be heard from every patron in the restaurant.
I finished my meal and asked for the check. As I handed over my cash, I asked my friend, the black waitress, what that exchange with the black man was all about. It turned out the note from the white female officer given to the black man said: “Racism and all of its ugliness comes in many colors – be it against men or women in uniform, the color of a person’s skin, ethnicity or religious beliefs.” Then I learned the white female officer turned the other cheek and paid for the black man’s lunch. She was in fact a Hispanic female police officer who was married to a respected black high school teacher and the young black kid she was with was her son. The black waitress conveyed that information to the young black man and made it clear he could finish his lunch but he was not welcome back in her coffee shop.
All I could think was WOW! What must have been going through the officer’s young son’s mind at the time of the exchange? What did his mother say to her son, how did she explain the exchange to him after they left? What went through the young black man’s mind after the conversation with the waitress? Lastly, how that must have felt for all involved.
Here are my questions regarding the color of racism. Who was the radical or racist here? Does disrespect, hurting, or worse killing others, regardless of color, ethnicity, creed or religion make the world a better place? Don’t all lives, regardless of color, creed, ethnicity or religion matter? If not, I fear for mankind.
Life’s journey continues for some, but not all…