In the Light
Two black men were arrested in Philadelphia, Penn., while sitting in a Starbucks (it’s okay, the famous franchise has been mentioned in other media outlets so I don’t think The Courier News is in legal trouble here) for sitting at a table and not ordering.
They were charged with trespassing.
The two men did not order because they were waiting for a friend.
So … Trespassing.
Get out! Seriously?
Are we back to that?
While these two BLACK gentlemen were being arrested, their third friend showed up.
Well, that was an “oops” moment, wasn’t it?
Well … No, the Starbucks manager was white. The cops were white.
The only thing of color in that Starbucks was the coffee and the two men who were arrested.
Three words come to mind: Path. Thet. Ick.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson is tripping over himself apologizing.
Johnson said what happened is not a Starbucks’ policy and in a-round-about way, was an “unconscious bias” by the store’s manager.
Just think about the lost revenue. It’s reprehensible.
And you know what, what happened in Philadelphia, Penn., last week … Is my fault.
I’m a white male in my 50s.
So, from about my 20th year until my 57th year, should I have been more vocal? More adamant about my views on race relations in our country? In our county? In our city?
Bear with me, okay? Or is it that once you realize you’re reading something about race relations you just go on to the next article?
And why is that?
White people have a problem, therefore I have a problem.
All is good, right? Unless we’re arrested for sitting in a Starbucks without placing an order for overpriced sugar with a fancy name.
And white people don’t get arrested for sitting in a Starbucks without ordering.
And to have the nerve to say they were waiting for a friend?
Please, let’s arrest these two before another n***** shows up.
If you’re shocked by that, then you are a clueless fool.
You think that word — the “n-word” — just disappears? That it’s only used in rap songs?
That white people, “socially adept” or not, NEVER use that word.
Get out! You’re truly delusional.
And I know I’ll catch hell for using it here.
But I think anyone who uses that word should catch hell.
It’s a word I associate with ignorance and not with the color of one’s skin.
Answer these questions (and remember, I can see you):
Two white guys in suits are seen hanging around your neighborhood. You ask them what they are doing. They say they are waiting on a friend. They are door-to-door salesmen selling life insurance (or whatever). Do you:
1. Laugh and say, “good luck;”
2. Tell them your local insurance agent has already sold you “umbrella” coverage (look that up on your fine print and see what it actually covers — besides your umbrella), so “No thanks;’”
3. Call the cops.
Two black guys (or any person “of color”) in suits are seen hanging around your neighborhood. You ask them what they are doing. They say they are waiting on a friend. They are door-to-door salesmen selling life insurance (or whatever). Do you:
1. Call the cops;
2. Call the cops;
3. Call the cops.
Oh wait, isn’t there another option for this last question?
I know, it’s over-simplified. Maybe dumb and naïve on my part.
But I’m white. I can do that, can’t I?
I can get away with asking questions.
It’s not nice being stereotyped, is it?
You know, as a person living in a classic white neighborhood, afraid of a person of color.
It’s like, “I’m not prejudice (a nice way of saying racist), but there is a black man near our house.”
Substitute “black” with “poor” or just plain “foreign?’
Here is why it is my fault.
I have a bigger voice. I have this, my column, which those with a better pay grade than I’ll ever reach, let me write.
Yes, I can write about what I think is important.
I’m not trying to play up my importance in Clinton, Tennessee.
But if every week I can point out that there are really no differences between myself and another person, a person of color, then maybe I can shed some light.
Couple of years ago I did a story for The Courier News about Asbury United Methodist Church in Clinton.
I thought it was a good story because it touched me.
You know … Myself.
I said I wanted to come back for a service.
Me, a white man, going to what is thought of as a “black” church.
Two things have kept me from going back.
First of all, I’m not a religious person.
To understand another culture, another mindset, another view.
And I am sorry about that.
Because Asbury United Methodist Church, and our readers, deserve better.