HampoLand

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Posts Tagged ‘racism’

Am I Racist?

I try not to be racist, but the truth is every single person on the planet is a little, I think.

Yesterday, I was in the post office, patiently standing in a line behind four other folks. To my right there was a young man who was Middle Eastern. He was tall, probably 6’2 and wearing grey sweats. And he had a long black pony tail and a great big bushy beard. He had head phones and an I phone. I watched for seven or eight minutes as he walked around picking up different envelopes then putting them back. He picked up various sizes of shipping boxes and put them down and he kept looking back, at the front door.

When it was my turn to approach the counter I looked at him and smiled, “We’re you waiting in line?”

He just shook his head and said “no.”

Once I left the Post Office I sat in the parking lot and wondered what I was supposed to do. For fifteen years we’ve been hammered with “If you see something, say something.” and the dude was acting weird.

Had it been a black, white or Hispanic guy I would not have even considered calling the authorities. But he was Middle Eastern, it was a post office and I was worried.

But reporting that young man for being what I thought was “suspicious” could wreck his life.  If he was investigated it could appear on job back ground checks, maybe it would keep him out of grad school or mess up his housing situation.

I was doing everything I try not to do. I was judging him, I was racially profiling him, I was thinking like a racist.

But I’m human…and that’s the problem. We are all flawed. Are our thoughts or actions more important? I don’t know.

I can only hope, someday, when God takes a look at my track record he doesn’t judge me by my actual thoughts. And I hope the youngman in the Post Office can forgive me.  I hope you found your envelope.

“Stop and Frisk” is for Idiots! or how to make kids hate cops forever

friskImagine for a moment that my son, Sandor, who is about to turn 14, his adorable girlfriend and his best friend, Sam  are walking down Central Avenue in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  It’s Saturday and they are going to see a 2 pm movie.  They laugh and push each other as they walk toward the movie theater.

A police officer pulls up next to them and gets out of the car.

“Hold up a second. I need to talk to you guys.”

Sandor looks at his phone, he doesn’t want to miss the movie.  His girlfriend suddenly  looks pale  nervous. She squeezes his hand. He squeezes back.

“I need to see some ID.”

They all shake their heads. “We’re only 14, we don’t have any ID. We’re just going to a movie.”

The officer smiles, but it’s not friendly.”Well, I guess you’re gonna be a little late late. We got a call about some kids spay painting a building just a few blocks from here. One of them is a blond. Where are you guys coming from?”

“Our house, right up the street.”

The questions go on and on an on.

“What’s the address?”

“Where are you going?”

“Who are your parents? Do they know where you are?”

“Where were you an hour ago?”

“Is that paint on your jeans?”

“Why are you in such a hurry?”

Sandor isn’t as nervous now, but he’s starting to get angry. “It wasn’t us, we’re going to the movie. Seriously. You can’t do this. We weren’t doing anything wrong.” He’s wondering, why is this cop hassling them?

“Yes sir,” the Officer says. ” I can do this. I need both you to put your hands on the back of my car.”

“Why?” Sandor asks and his girl friend starts to cry a little.

“Just do what your told, kid,” the cop says and pushes both boys against his car.  He kicks their legs apart, really wide.

The girl friend pulls out her phone and starts to call her dad but the police officer says, “Please put you phone away.” The girl does what she’s told.

The officer runs his hand up and down their legs, inside and out, around the waist band of their jeans. He reaches inside Sam’s boots, then checks the front pockets of their jeans and the pockets of their hoodies.

A car load of teenagers honk and holler as they pass by.

Then the officer gets a call on his radio. He says, “Don’t move” to the boys. Sandor is so mad and humiliated, he wills himself not to cry in frustration.  He wants to hug his girlfriend and tell her it’ll be ok.

He can read the words on the side of the police car “Protect and Serve.”He looks at Sam, he wants him to see those words too. But Sam is gone. His face is ashen  blank, absolutely empty. His eyes look as though he’s shut down.  Sandor knows that look. It’s how Sam looks when he’s beyond angry, when he’s thinking about revenge and getting even. It’s his game face. Sam never lets anyone see his real emotions. But he never forgets.

The officer returns, “Alright guys, your good to go. They picked up the kids working on another building. Stay out of trouble.” And then he’s back in his squad car and gone.

Sam and Sandor don’t know what to say. But now, at the age of 14, they both hate and fear cops.  The officer humiliated, embarrassed and violated them. He made them feel weak and powerless in front of the entire town, in front of the girl, and for no reason. This feeling will never leave the boys.

That’s what the “Stop and Frisk” policy does to young men. I understand it might lead to a lot of arrests. But      “Stop and Frisk” will to turn an entire generation of African Americans, Muslims, Hispanics and whites kids against law enforcement. The officers will never be trusted or respected. Just feared and hated.  And that’s not what cops want.

“Stop and Frisk” is a lazy and easy way to make arrests. But it will destroy any hope of having minority communities work with the police.

Our Law Enforcement Officers deserve better and our young people will demand better, or seek their revenge for being humiliated.

 

  • This story is one hundred percent a work of fiction.

Ugly White People

mary goatYesterday, my oldest daughter, Mary called after work.  I was driving Sandor to Taekwondo.  She works at an inner-city boys and girls Club in Indianapolis. There are days she’s the only white person in the building.

I answered and put her on speaker so Sandor could hear too.

“Momma, listen to this. Today at work, this little girl, Jasmine, who is seven, was playing with my hair. Then she leaned over and said, “I think white people are all ugly.”

Sandor and I started laughing, loudly, then I croaked, “What did you say?”

“I just said, That’s your opinion. I kind of wanted to ask her if she knew I was white but I’m pretty sure she did.”

Mary is 27, beautiful and has always been volatile and passionate. She reacts strongly, to injustice in the world. It simply drives her crazy when people don’t act right. She gets offended, early and often.

The comment didn’t bother me in any way and apparently it didn’t really faze Mary! She wasn’t mad. My child who has been offended by so many things in life, upset and pissed off by politicians, rednecks, school teachers, grocery store clerks and old men, just let the comment roll off her back. And I was so proud.  It was my win for the day because life is much tougher when everything pisses you off and leaves you feeling offended.

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who is attending Yale. She  explained the term “micro-aggression” to me. that’s when everything is taken as an offense. Comments are all taken as a sign of racism, sexism, ageism when in fact they are just comments. But everybody wants to be offended all the time, by everything. Apparently “micro-aggression” is very prevalent among young, well educated folk. That makes sense.

Being offended by everything is exhausting and often times stupid. So relax.  Just because a little girl things white people are ugly you don’t need to be offended. You’re actually not ugly, so it doesn’t matter what she says. Her words are harmless, sad, but harmless.

On a nice note Mary sent me a sign some of her kids made this morning.

ms mary

 

 

The Problem With The Confederate Flag

flagThere’s no doubt this will disappoint and infuriate some of my readers, but I feel I would be a coward if I didn’t tell you how I feel about the Confederate flag controversy and why.

First, I’m very much a child of the South, the past five or six generations on one side have been in Arkansas, before that Georgia, Virginia and a boat that sailed from England.  On the other side of the family I’ve got four generations from Arkansas, before that Tennesee then Texas where you can still visit the town of Granger, Texas. I’ve been told it was named by my great great great great grandfather Granger Gertrudio McDaniel.   One of my great great grandfathers and several great great uncles fought in the Civil war…for the South.I say all this so you understand there’s not a single yankee in the wood pile.

Still, I’m so relieved the Confederate flags are  being removed from our state capitol buildings. They don’t belong there because that flag does not represent or honor ALL of the people who live in our beautiful state.

I don’t think the Confederate flag should be banned or burned or hidden but it doesn’t belong on our Capitol or in our schools.

Yes, it is our heritage and it’s your right to fly it at home or wear on a tee-shirt. But my heritage is my history….the past. My present, my right now, my at this moment is different.

Right now I have a lot of very dear friends who I love and they are black.  I love them more than I love that flag. I don’t like thinking what my great great great grandfather was doing 175 years ago and what their great great great grandfather’s might have been doing 175 years ago. It makes me sad and embarrassed. And this country belongs to them just as much as it belongs to me.

If the Confederate flag, that brings so many so much pride causes my dear friends one moment of pain or discomfort….well, their love means more to me than pride. I am not ashamed of my relatives, they were brave, strong, Christian people. they thought they were doing the right thing. But they were wrong.

I still like the General Lee, Lynard Skynard and I know every word to Dixie.

Bottom line, my black friends are more important than that flag. They bring me more joy, they help me, make me better and represent my heart more than the confederate flag. I chose those I love.

And the Confederate flag does not define my past and I have other things to be proud of now. If I want to leave a lasting legacy it won’t be the Confederate flag, it will be my children. Sandor, Alexis, Mary and Jack.  They are my battle flag now, through them I will find a way to make the world a better place and I will carry them forever along with the flag of the United States of America.

(If anyone knows a  literacy agent or publisher  help me out.)