Thursday, May 25, 2017

Just When You Think It's Safe to Go Outside

This is America.  Land of many nationalities and colors and people.   All living harmoniously.

Uh huh.   And, just when you start believing that, a simple little incident makes you realize that all is not right.   In a way that you never ever hear on the news.

I was in my local Staples buying my ink cartridges for my home printer.   There were two checkout registers open and a line had formed.   On one register, there was an African-American gentleman probably around the age of 50. Reasonably well dressed.  His transaction was taking up a lot of time and the one Staples clerk was working on it.  My turn came and I approached the register right next to him.

The clerk handling my ink cartridges explained to me that the Staples credit card server was acting erratically.  If you were using plastic for your purchase, some cards were going through and others were being denied.  It was hit and miss.   The African-American guy's experience was a miss.   His card was getting dinged.

The clerk tried my debit card and, with his fingers crossed, my purchase sailed through.  I noticed the next-door customer eyeing me with envy.   I simply smiled and said I got lucky.   The guy actually sneered.

"That's not luck.  It's because you're White."

The sharpness of his remark stunned me for a second or two.  I waited for a smile that showed he was being funny.   Or a humorous inflection that you might see on one of those old Norman Lear sitcoms.  But there was none.   He was deadly serious.

I picked up my jaw from the floor, grabbed my ink cartridges, and left.   But I literally sat in my car for a minute or two contemplating this.   Here was a normal and decent-looking man who just happened to feature a skin color different from mine.  And he looked at me with disdain because apparently it was my pigmentation that allowed my credit card to go through.  Maybe he's not a nice guy.  Maybe he's got a ton of personal issues.   But I am not the enemy.

Is this what we are now?   I look at our leadership in the nation,  Right now, the manic bi-polarity of our country has set up this nasty battle that will ultimately kill us all.  If you're White, you're a bigot.  The current President has done nothing to dispel this fallacy.  Meanwhile, the previous President stirred this pot and essentially set race relations in this country back fifty years.  The progress we made as a unified land was snuffed out almost in a heartbeat by the last eight years.   

I don't profess to say that I know what it's like to be a skin color other than White.  The history books tell me of all the struggles and challenges.   But I thought we had come a lot farther than this guy in the checkout line next to me at Staples.  I said nothing to him in response, but I wanted to tell him that I am not necessarily the privileged class or the enemy he desperately seeks out.  I wanted to show him the 2015 medical bills I still have due to all the regulations imposed by Obamacare.   I wanted to link him to the blog piece I did about my third grade class with the accompanying photo.  He would see a harmonious group of five White kids and about 20 others of skin colors not White.  

No, I'm not part of your problem, sir.   Indeed, I came to the realization that racism really never will be fully gone from this country as long as mindsets like this are not only sustained, but encouraged,

And, the sooner people release that such hatred is a two way street, the better it will be for all of us.

Such is life in America 2017.  One step forward and always two steps back.

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch, so just a chicken salad sandwich.

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