I’m going to start off this short post with a fact: I’m white. I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America, nor do I pretend. What I can tell you is my experiences with my wife, who is Black, and with my children in public. Most of these were infrequent prior to the inclusion of Trump in the primaries of 2015, hereafter referred to as the Event. These are the facts.
First, I was driving around with my wife to a dance class and stopped not that far from where she lived at the time and we now live. This beat up pick up truck with Miami County, KS plates was there with the Confederate battle flag stickers all over the rear window. They then glowered at us, changed the music and turned it up to a point in a song that said “Get yourself a new girlfriend” while looking at us and laughing. Later at the dance class, there was this old man dancing either his daughter, very young girlfriend, or granddaughter. I chose my order of possibilities intentionally. When we were out of the class, they were in the car next to us. He was yelling at the young lady and said “don’t you dare…” while pointing at us, stopped, smiled, and waved while I glowered. Let me tell you I can glower.
Second, when we were on a trip through the South after we were married, we stopped in Branson. At the Outback, some large family was arguing behind us loudly. It’s why I noticed. Then, finally, a younger member of the family shouted “It doesn’t matter what she looks like as long as they’re happy.”
Thirdly, we were at a Sam’s Club in Overland Park, KS. After paying for the items we grabbed with two carts, one for the wife and one for me, there was an African-American couple in front of us. They were thoroughly being checked over. All the while, White people were stopping and he waved them on, repeatedly. When it came to our turn, he started to do what he did to the couple in front of us. I stepped forward and asked if he needed to check my items as my wife and I were together. His jaw went slack. He then let us through, no further questions.
Now on to my experiences with my beautiful, smart children, prior to the Event, my daughter, then a few months old, people would shower her with praise of her looks. After the Event, they would glower, whisper “half-breed” behind my back thinking I can’t hear.
Finally, this is all I want to talk about because this is getting me pissed off. When I was leaving the store with my daughter and son, some really old man with an
“America, Rock, Flag, and Eagle” (cue Charlie Day) shirt said “Oh, hell no!” and looked to challenge me. He was about my wife’s height of 5′ 4″. I’m 6′ 2″ and have a 2nd degree black belt in tae kwon do. I already began sizing him up and decided “I don’t want to break an old man’s hip, no matter how racist.” and moved on.
Now, this isn’t to say there hasn’t been beautiful moments since the Event. One such moment occurred at the store when I was in line to pay with my children. My daughter had made the trip difficult. People doing their comments had made trip difficult. Then, a taller than me old man sauntered over. He was wearing blue overalls and a tan shirt. He looked me straight in the eye with a straight face. He said “I want you to know that your kids are absolutely beautiful.” I teared up. I wanted to hug him, but before I could gather my wits, he sauntered back to whence he came. I will remember how this man looked and what he said for as long as I can.
This is all that I’m willing to share. There are just too many to count. As I said earlier, I don’t know what it means to be Black in America except what my wife has told me and there are tons. I weep for this country because of what I’ve seen and my wife has experienced.