Over the years, there's one thing I've observed about race issues, if you're looking for problems you'll always find them.
At first, while traveling from state to state I was highly aware that I was a BLACK man. Everywhere I went people would look at the BLACK man walking up the street, The BLACK man shopping at Piggly Wiggly's, The BLACK man putting a coin in the parking meter. And who's looking at the BLACK man? The WHITE man. My little world was black and white.
If I were to go out to dinner with folks not of my persuasion and they excused themselves for the restroom, I was convinced that they were sitting on the toilet plotting against my people. Somehow I figured that white people were spending all their waking and sleeping hours thinking up dastardly deeds. This wouldn't give them much time for anything else, would it? I guess it could explain why racists are so stupid.
After meeting so many people and making so many friends, a funny thing started to happen, people were becoming just people and I was becoming just a person.
There would be an occasion such as in Jasper, Indiana, when you're walking across the street and someone in a pickup truck passes you and shouts "Get out of the street nigger." You're shocked. And you realize… "Oh right. I'm black. I almost forgot. Thanks. What did you say your name was?"
Black awareness was at it's peak whenever I was back home in Philly. There would be these wholesome moments when the family would all sit together at the dinner table and we'd talk about the Phillies, the WHITE man, the BLACK man, the RED man and the YELLOW man, but mainly the WHITE man. "Hey ma, there's a spaceship landing in the backyard!", then we'd talk about the GREEN man.
Then there's my step-dad standing at the head of the table, personifying Samuel L. Jackson. "Boy, don't you come to this table dressed like that, looking like the WHITE man. Where the F*** is your Dashiki??!! " "Sorry dad, I'll go get it. Right on."
One thing for sure, people are fascinating. My little world was expanding.
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