It’s lurking behind every casual interaction
Every time I visit Memphis, where I lived for nine years before being tricked into moving up north, I am shocked to see Black people and white people socializing together. That does not happen in Wisconsin, at least not that I see.
Yes, I will see Black people and white people at the same political events, but that’s about it. Not at restaurants or plays or festivals – not to the extent that I saw it in Memphis.
(And it probably goes without saying but I will say it anyhow – these political events? They are Democrat events. Not Republican. I can’t say for absolute sure that Black people don’t go to Republican events in Wisconsin but I can be fairly sure.)
The first time I went back to Memphis for a visit, Mr T and I went to my favorite restaurant. As we were waiting for a table, I was trying to figure out what was different.
Then I realized: I saw both white people and Black people in the restauarant.
I had not seen that in Milwaukee.
When my friend Leigh and I went to Clarksdale a few months ago, I was heartened to see Black people and white people not only socializing together but dancing together. In Mississippi! Mississippi! Home of the original racists!
Perhaps we actually can overcome our horrible past and move forward together with everyone enjoying equal rights and the police not killing Black suspects at twice the rate they kill white ones. Perhaps we as a country can actually fulfill our dream as a land of liberty and equality.
Did you know that the concept of race is actually a social construct, not a biological one? When I was a kid, I was taught that there are three races: Mongoloid, Negroid, and Caucasian.
It was all a big fat lie.
There is no such thing as race – at least, not biologically.
It doesn’t exist. It’s just something people with power made up as a way of – I don’t know – maintaining their power? That seems about right. It explains the patriarchy as well – it’s all about keeping power.
In the grocery store, Leigh, who is a very pretty, petite blonde, accidentally bumped into a Black man.
“I’m SO sorry!” she said. “Please excuse me!”
“Oh no ma’am,” he answered as he backed away and held his hands up. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
“No!” she laughed. “I bumped into you! I’M sorry!”
He shook his head as he continued to back away from her, hands held in the air. “Excuse me, ma’am. I’m sorry.”
I couldn’t figure out why he was apologizing to her. She had run into him. There was no doubt about the facts.
And then I realized.
He is not optimistic about the future.
He has not forgotten about the past.
He has not forgotten how many Black men were lynched after white people got angry that a Black man dared to look at or even speak to a white woman.
He has not forgotten that nothing has ever happened to Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman who (falsely, but even if it were true, none of the outcome would be right) accused Emmett Till of grabbing her. Emmett Till is dead, but his accuser – the prime mover in his death – lives.
He has not forgotten and neither should we.