Thursday, July 12, 2012
We have made many strides towards ending racism in this country during my lifetime. We now have a black president, many black CEOs, teachers, doctors, and lawyers. I guess racism is a thing of the past. There are no more segregated restrooms or restaurants and no forced seating on the back of the bus…and yet…
Chris Rock, my favorite comedian since we lost George Carlin, claims there isn’t a single white person that would change places with him, and, he states emphatically, “I’M RICH!”
Is there still racism in this country?
Several years ago a doctor in our town was arrested for getting belligerent with a police officer. It turns out he was pulled over in his new BMW three times in one month. His only offence was DWB (driving while black) he took offence at this offence.
I had a friend at work, Cliff, who was from Panama. He was a large gentle giant of a man with a quick wit and a big heart. He was very black. We both lived in Jersey and passed through the same train terminal in Newark every day. I was talking to him one very hot summer day and mentioned that I would probably stop at the Newark station liquor store to get a cold beer for the train ride home.
Cliff said that he would like a beer as well, but the Newark cops do not allow him to carry an open can of beer through the station.
“What? I do it all the time, the store puts the container in a plain brown bag and the cops never say anything.”
“You mean they never say anything to YOU.”
Cliff pulled his glasses down over his nose and peered at me with a stare that said, “You’re kidding right?”
I looked back into his large black stare and it finally hit me… “Oh…duh…DAMN!”
I also worked closely and became good friends with
an African- American African- Belizian a black man from Belize. Frank was my go to guy when I didn’t understand something related to our brokerage business. He knew everything and could explain it so even I could understand it. We worked a similar schedule and often went to lunch together.
One day in the cafeteria, Frank passed by the dish of the day, fried chicken, and that day’s desert special, fresh watermelon.
“Damn that looks good; I wish I could order it.”
“So what is the problem? Go ahead and buy it if you want.”
“I guess; but people would make jokes.”
Imagine, an intelligent man not wanting to order the food he likes because he did not want to appear stereotyped! That is when it became clear to me just how deep and insidious racism still is in the good old USA.
Chris Rock is right, I would like to be rich and famous, but I’m not ready to change places with him. As only Chris Rock could say it:
“I think I’ll just see where this white thing takes me.”