I have a number of irrational thoughts and behaviors that I’m not sure I’ll ever get over. They don’t make sense but that doesn’t stop me from thinking this way. The only difference is that I’m willing to tell folks about them. One of my fears is of flying with White folks. Now, that really sounds crazy since I fly all the time (2-3 times each month) and almost every flight is filled with White people. However, I always check to see if there is at least ONE other Black person (or other person of color) on the flight. My rationale is that White folks have done so many egregious things that God is going to get fed up one of these days and snatch a plane full of them out of the sky. So, I rationalize if there is at least one other person of color on my flight our presence can persuade God to have mercy. It doesn’t make sense but this post is not about sense making. It’s about how I go through this world, in this skin, in this country.
One of my other phobias is drunk, White men. They really scare me. I am used to drunk, Black men. My encounters with them typically involve some sort of attempt to “sweet talk” me that is almost always quite harmless and rarely belligerent. But, drunk, White men, especially those drunk on beer, are a scary sight. In frat houses they have been known to sexually assault women or hire Black strippers for their voyeuristic and racist purposes. Even when it doesn’t degenerate to that kind of violence I have certainly been in professional settings where a drunk colleague has decided to get way too “familiar.” And, quite frankly I don’t want to dance with your no-dancing self. You don’t know me like that and I have NO desire to know you like that!
I have a quirk of over-interpreting what White folks say. Of course they respond that I am being “too sensitive” but when you tell me you’d “like to move to the city some day” I hear, “once they’ve displaced all of those pesky poor people of color!” Or, when I hear that White people would like to put their children in a “good public school” I once again hear, “one with none of those undesirable children.” And my favorite—which I hear far too often, “You’re AMAZING!” I have no idea why White people think that’s a compliment when the only thing I hear is, “You’re so different from the ‘rest of them’!”
I absolutely cannot stand disrespectful White children. Now, truth is I shouldn’t tolerate disrespectful children of any race or ethnicity but somehow I have assurance that once out of public view a disrespectful Black child is going to have a “reckoning.” I just presume—perhaps erroneously—that disrespectful White children are going to persist.
White mediocrity…oh my! Again, I don’t like mediocrity of any kind but typically mediocre Black people don’t get very far (unless they’ve been tapped by some White person whose bidding they must do) but I have seen White mediocrity in HIGH places…the academy (one of their special hangouts), government, private industry, etc. I once had a White man tell me his SAT score was 750. I asked, “verbal?” He said, “No, combined!” You would faint if I told you what his position was and he was sitting there BRAGGING about his mediocrity. Reminds me of George W. Bush who bragged about his C average.
One of my crazy measures of whether something is good for kids is if White people want it for their children. So, when White people don’t clamor for “reforms” like “Teach for America,” “school uniforms,” or “vocational training.” I’ve decided not to ask for it for Black kids.
Try as I might I can’t eat White folks potato salad or mac n cheese. Even Martha Stewart’s that I’m sure is superb. But, when I think of the love my mama put in each of those dishes I am certain that I would be attuned to that love as a missing ingredient.
No, none of these quirks, phobias and fears makes ANY sense—they just are. And, I bet if you’re honest you have your own. You don’t have to tell me what they are but if you see me on an airplane, rest assured I have counted to see if there is at least one more person like me on it for some “trabelin’ mercy!”
Stay Black & Smart!