NOTE: I wrote this article about a month ago. Before I “publish” anything that may be too sensitive, I usually run it by my wife or one of my children. I’m blessed with a brilliant and diverse thinking family and the article’s topic dictates which one I will go to. This one landed squarely on the shoulders of my oldest daughter. Lucky her.
Her advice; watch the attached Saturday Night Live video and then wait a couple of days before I hit the publish button. Her advice was excellent. I did both and shelved the article feeling like the guy in the video. Nobody wants to look like a fool. Well, a month has now passed and wrong is still wrong. Fool or not, let’s print it.
A few important facts; I have no idea what it is like to be anything other than a white American male. I have never personally experienced discrimination in any form that I could label as “discrimination”, been disenfranchised or targeted because of the color of my skin. I realize that I may not even have “standing” to give an opinion regarding this matter (subjective). Having said that, the event still pisses me off and here is the SNL video and the article.
All great ideas start with a desire and I was desiring a great Milkshake. We were on a roadtrip from Missouri to Alabama, two cars and eight people. In the leading car is me, my youngest daughter and all of the overflow luggage.
We left Missouri heading south and after crossing the state line, we apparently entered the 1950’s. That last part will make sense in a minute. I spotted a fast-food chain well known for their ice cream excellence and with that the caravan made a detour. I dropped my daughter off in front to use the restroom and to explain the “milkshake situation” to the others while I bee-lined it for the drive thru.
I ordered; medium please and no crap on top, just a pure chocolate milkshake. Then, all of a sudden, the power went out in the building. Ahead of me in the line is a raised 4X4 truck and it’s driver is very unhappy. He apparently isn’t getting his milkshake today and is expressing himself loudly to the lady in the drive-thru window. And then it happened…
A white 50-ish lady leans out of the drive-thru and loudly says to the driver “As my daddy would say, When you have four ni@@*rs in a car, this is what happens!”. They both broke out laughing. Apparently someone she knew had just crashed into a pole nearby and knocked out the power. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. What year is this? Are you kidding me! A stream of muffled comments followed between them, more laughter and then he drives away. My daughter, who had just returned, got in and we drove up to the window. “Power’s out” she declared with a smile. I just stared, dumbfounded, and we pulled out of the drive-thru.
As we drove away talking about how “backward” this place seemed, we passed by a house which was covered in confederate flags, most of which appeared to be for sale. Seriously? Did time stop at the border? I started thinking about “that word” and it began to bother me on a whole new level.
Oddly, the other day, I was looking for a song, “Empire State of Mind” and noticed that a few entries defaulted to Jay-Z. I was surprised that many of his songs were listed as “explicit” and that the N-word was used repeatedly. I felt angry and wondered if you had to be black to use that word, apparently he felt it was fine. He should meet Lady Drive Thru.
This morning, I was reading an article about a retired National Football League (Titans) football player named Myron Rolle. Just thirty years old, a Rhodes Scholar, who recently finished Medical School and will now become a Neurosurgeon. The article mentions his family and the incredible encouragement that he received from them. This amazing man has accomplished more than I could have ever hoped to achieve in a lifetime and he is only thirty. Does it matter that he is black? Does he use that word? I hope not. I wonder if Lady Drive Thru has an opinion or if Jay-Z would use his name and the N-word in the same sentence.
Why does it matter? Because that Word is still casually used by people daily. If this word were a vessel, it would contain the hatred and fear of one color of people for another, the explosive rage, the tragic grief and the complete failure of humanity to protect itself from itself. It should be the Lord Voldemort of words, never, ever allowed to return as it represents to all that hear it’s utterance, the attempted destruction of a people, simply because of their race and the color of their skin. This Word has to go, not because it’s politically correct, which is crap, but because we should each be better than that. I can think of no other single word in the English language that contains so loud a message of hate and destruction yet is used so casually in conversation.
I mentioned to my daughter that I was going to write about this, about Lady Drive Thru, Jay Z, Myron Rolle and why I was so bothered. She said “aren’t you kind of a racist too?”. I winced and said, “I guess we all are to some extent”, realizing quickly what an awful answer that was to such a painful statement. I’ve never thought of myself as a racist but I have been known to be terribly insensitive to people as a whole. Is that racism or me just being an ass? Time for a look in the mirror. I have seen racism all over the world and it is unfortunately alive and pathetically well. Change will happen, painfully slow and one person at a time, but it must come, kicking and screaming if necessary. It starts by recognizing “that” Six Letter Word as the Monster that it truly is.