LOVE SEES NO COLOR: My View On Interracial Relationships

My feelings exactly. Image courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

 

I reckon that the title of this post has given away my feelings on people of different races and cultures dating and having romantic relationships.

A few years ago on the website HubPages.com I wrote about seeing a young teenage couple at a bus stop one day, doing the typical teenage couple thing; kissing, cuddling, etc.

The thing that appealed to me about that twosome was that she was Latina and he was an African-American, giving me a good feeling that relationships in which the people involved are a different race/ethnic group/culture are more accepted in the present day then when that Loving vs Virginia case was going down in 1967.

Unfortunately – and especially in the current cultural atmosphere triggered by the election of this country’s President-Who-I-Refuse-To-Name – there are plenty of folks who are completely against Miscegenation; folks who have the view that different races and ethnicities should never mix romantically, which includes Asians, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and Jewish people as well as blacks and whites.

I remember back in high school having a crush on a Persian girl; to make a long story short, when I tried to call her, her mother angrily rebuffed me, me not knowing that a big part of Persian culture is for them and their children to only be “with their own”.

Of course I saw – and still see – that as plain old bigotry.

 

Florida, USA — Young interracial bride and groom on wedding day — Image by © Kai Chiang/Golden Pixels LLC/Corbis I love this wedding pic – that groom is SO lucky to be marrying such a beautiful bride! Photo courtesy of imgarcade.com

 

In fact, I’ll be perfectly honest…

While as a black man, I want to emphasize that this is no way whatsoever implying that I have anything against African-American females as I have a list of black women and girls that I had a crush on over the years, including Clueless’ Stacey Dash (her politics notwithstanding), The Facts of Life‘s Kim Fields, and especially Michelle Thomas, who played Urkel’s obsessive girlfriend on the TV show Family Matters and who tragically didn’t make it to the age of 30, dying of cancer before reaching that age,

I have always been attracted to females of all races and ethnic groups as their personality and integrity has far more importance in my book than the color of their skin and how they worship God.

Basing my romantic interest choices by initial physical attraction (unfortunately, that’s a natural reality) and  – more importantly – “the content of their character”, to quote Martin Luther King, is something that I have always emphasized.

In fact, I’ve always felt that to limit my dating/relationship options to strictly “my own kind”, as too many people, particularly social conservatives and right-wing types, would prefer to do, would not only be akin submitting myself to a voluntary Jim Crow-segregation,

I would feel straitjacketed, limited, and bored.

BOTTOM LINE:

When it comes to love, a mate should be chosen based on one’s heart and soul rather than skin pigmentation and cultural/ethnic sameness.

They say that “The heart wants what the heart wants” , and I’ll always strongly believe that anything between two individuals that is loving and affectionate should be appreciated and celebrated.

Which was why it gives me a feeling of gladness whenever I see interracial couples out there; it’s real good to see that race, ethnicity and culture in dating is far less of an issue for millennials than for previous generations.

My suggestion to all those couples out there who are given dirty looks or nasty comments because their skin color or ethnicity is different:

Just say this to those folks:

“Love sees no color, because there is only one race – the human race.”

Or tell them,

“You have a right to feel that way, but you know what? It’s SO none of your business!”

Which it isn’t!

Or better yet,  just ignore them.

 

Now this is a great picture of a truly gorgeous family. Photo courtesy of triadmomsonmain.com

 

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LOS ANGELES REBELLION (or Riots) 25-YEAR ANNIVERSARY: Where I Was On That Day

 

REMEMBERING ONE OF AMERICA’S LARGEST RACIAL UPRISINGS FROM A PERSONAL STANDPOINT

 

I’ll get right to the point:

I was living (figuratively speaking) pretty far away from the infamous flash point of Florence Ave. and Normandie Ave. in Santa Monica, CA the day those verdicts in the first Rodney King trial in Simi Valley came down, setting those bigoted policemen free despite that tape showing the most obvious incriminating evidence of all time.

Though I was never brutalized like Rodney, as a African-American male in his mid-20s I could certainly relate to being racially profiled, being stopped by the Santa Monica police a number of times; there are two instances of this that stand out in my mind:

 

* I was getting some food from Campos, a Mexican place two blocks from my house whose food I grew up on, loved, and still love to this day.

As I was walking out with my order a policeman, out of the blue, stopped me and began to ask me questions, saying that I “fit the description” of someone they were looking for.

If it wasn’t for another guy walking across the street that yelled out, “That’s not him!” I would have most likely been arrested for something I had no knowledge of.

 

* One day in July of 1997, a month after my 30th birthday, I had left my house to get a newspaper when a plain clothes policeman stopped me when I was literally across the street from my home, exiting his car.

“Get your hands up!” he said, putting me in handcuffs.

Thankfully I was able to convince the cop to let me into my house so I can show him my ID, proving that I wasn’t a stalker.

To the cop’s credit, he apologized, but that did nothing to ease my irritation.

 

Being that I lived in the Pico Neighborhood, Santa Monica’s inner city for all intents and purposes, I knew deep down that being a young black man in that area, I was both a target and would be suspect for anything that went down.

The irony in all this? Santa Monica had an African-American police chief in those days, James Butts, who’s now the mayor of Inglewood.

 

 

TV news footage of that fateful day at Florence and Normandie, courtesy of YouTube

 

 

Anyhow…

I remember the day everything went down on Florence and Normandie quite well;

My mother and I were watching it all go down live on the local TV news. I specifically recall seeing a van ram into the front bars of a store, breaking the bars and leaving that store ripe for the looters, which we likewise saw.

I believe I saw Reginald Denny get smashed by that brick as well.

The other memory I have of that uprising – I’m making it a point to not call it a riot anymore – was the next couple of mornings as I was leaving the house to go to work; though no fires or looting happened in Santa Monica or the Westside, I could smell the smoke drifting from the many fires in the rest of L.A.

I was a physical education assistant teacher at a couple of elementary schools at that time, and the kids at both places, most of them white, were quite upset not only with what was going down, but also with the cause of it as being the liberal town that Santa Monica was and is, pretty much everyone felt that those four cops who beat Rodney got off scott-free.

At one of those schools there were a couple of African-American kids, both 4th graders, who lived in what was then called South Central L.A. (they were able to attend the Santa Monica school because their mothers worked in the town and were able to acquire permits) and were subsequently adjacent to all the chaos if not in the middle of it.

I knew that those two youngsters would be at least a little stressed and traumatized, so I made it a point to ask them if they were OK.

Things went more or less back to normal in Santa Monica and the Westside after the so-called “riots” ended, but you know what?

 

 

Rodney King’s famous “Can’t we all get along?” speech, courtesy of YouTube.

 

 

After 25 years, I think everyone – at least every one of color, especially Blacks and Latinos – would say that nothing has changed as far as young African-American men getting profiled, targeted, and killed by the police across America.

If you don’t believe me, ask the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and the many other young men who are no longer with us.

And ask the black folks who live in places like Baltimore and Ferguson, MO, if things are better.

To be honest, particularly under the still relatively new leadership of our President-Whose-Name-I-Will-Not-Mention, I’m surprised that “riots” like what happened in L.A. in 1992 don’t happen twice or three times a year.

And the worst part of all of this?

Considering the polarizing climate in these United States, racial and otherwise, I honestly find it difficult to see any light at the end of this pick black tunnel.

At least for the foreseeable future.

As Malcolm X once said, it’s going to take God himself to solve this dilemma.

Which I wholeheartedly agree with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CURRENT RACIAL CRISIS IN AMERICA: Some Random Thoughts

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I love this picture, for obvious reasons. Photo courtesy of abc3340.com

 

Musings, based what has been happening in this country, on what seems to be a nadir on relations between races, cultures, and ethnic groups in this country with no end in sight.

 

Like seemingly every other black male of African descent in these United States, I have been the target of negativity solely based on my skin color.

I have been called the “N” word, particularly as a young boy in Riverside, CA, where the then-rural community I lived in (Woodcrest) featured numerous Caucasian folks of European descent from places like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

I have been denied jobs solely because of my skin color, notably when I was in my early 20s and a lady, upon laying her eyes upon me and giving a less-than enthusiastic reaction after such an enjoyable conversation on the phone, told me that the job I was seeking had already been filled.

I have felt ostracized in various places throughout my adult years.

And I have been the target of racial profiling as I was stopped by the police in Santa Monica, CA, where I lived for over twenty years, on at least four occasions, being handcuffed during one of them in front of my house due to me fitting the description of a stalker;  if I didn’t show them my ID, I probably would have spent a few years in jail for something I did not do.

So when I heard about the latest killings of unarmed black men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana and what was apparently a retaliatory strike in Dallas with the lives of those five cops being snuffed out by Micah Xavier Johnson during a Black Lives Matter protest, my thoughts were varied…

 

 

Something that will hopefully induce hope: Cat Stevens’s (now Yusuf Islam’s) classic song “Peace Train”

 

 

First:  None of this was anything new as African-American men have been unnecessarily killed by authority figures for as long as African-Americans have existed in America.

Second:  Those cops who murdered Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in the Minneapolis area, like pretty much every other cop who has committed similar acts before, will not be charged with any crime and will essentially get off free and clear.

Third:  It seems like race relations have plummeted and are at their lowest point in decades during Barack Obama’s presidency, as statements and efforts from conservative whites, in politics and elsewhere, to discredit our 43rd Commander-In-Chief have abounded.

Not to mention the rise in racist incidents at colleges like the universities of Oklahoma and Missouri.

Fourth:   As I have written in an article on Hubpages.com, despite the efforts and labors of icons like Martin Luther King and the advances that the Civil Rights Movement produced, there remains a certain amount of self-separation between races and ethnic groups due to cultural differences, a natural desire for people to interact based on what they have in common, and a notion that differences often breed discomfort, which breeds distrust.

I remember writing that no matter how many “I Have A Dream” speeches are made or how many times “We Shall Overcome” is sung, you can’t force a racist – in any color – to not be one.

You can’t force someone who thinks folks of different races are inferior, created to be subservient and who need to be “in their place”, to feel differently.

And you can’t force someone – black, white, Latino, or Asian – who vehemently frowns over racially mixed couples to suddenly embrace them.

 

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Why can’t we all get along like these two sweet little girls? Photo courtesy of blackyouthproject.com

 

Fifth:   This is something that has been in my mind for a while.

Based on all the current protest marches and confrontations between (mostly) white police and (mostly black and Latino) demonstrators, not to mention the riots that have resulted after incidents like this in the past,

I cannot help wondering if we are on the brink of a second Civil War.

A war not between the states, but a war between the races.

Judging from the comments I have read in articles regarding race that I have read online and the various statements from conservative whites (and African-Americans like Stacey Dash), one may well think such as I can’t help feeling that all it would take is one riot,

One skirmish between blacks and police that gets out of control,

One instance of some conservative white person who may be among some anti-Black Lives Matter counter demonstrators, who says the wrong thing and is attacked and (probably) killed by folks who are fed up, triggering an all-out brawl,

And you may well have the first battle of a race war, a Fort Sumter in a sense.

I also can’t help wondering if a hundred years from now, the dreams of racists will come true and America will be separated on the basis of color due to an impasse, the leaders conceding that the longtime racial animosities will never be solved and – like a divorcing couple or the Hindus and Muslims during the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 (much to Mahatma Gandhi’s dismay) – the best solution being a formation of separate countries.

Of course it’s my sincere hope that this scenario will never come to pass, but…

Sometimes it’s a little difficult to be completely hopeful based on these recent and ongoing racial incidents and unrest.

However, I do know this:

Killing police officers will not do anything to stop racial profiling and murder of blacks by law enforcement.

Neither will rioting as if that were the case, attacks on people of color would have ended nearly 100 years ago.

I’m honestly not sure what the answer is – besides love and loving one another according to what Jesus Christ commands – but…

As Marvin Gaye once sang, war is NOT it.

I suppose that’s all I have to say about all of this, at least for now.

 

Group of diverse teenagers standing together and smiling for the camera. Horizontal shot.

Group of diverse teenagers standing together and smiling for the camera. Horizontal shot. Love this shot, too! Photo courtesy of ojaialano.wordpress.com

 

 

 

MY OFFICIAL TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY POST

Online-Writing-Jobs

A good image of how I’ve spent much of my waking hours for nearly a decade now. Photo courtesy of litabi.com

 

LAMENTATIONS OF TWO YEARS OF HAVING THIS BLOG

I reckon it’s true…

Time really does fly by.

I know it’s a bad cliché, but it also really does seem like yesterday that I was commemorating one year of this website.

In fact, the past few weeks have been full of commemorations as far as this Hartland Chronicles site is concerned as I’ve marked my birthday, written my 100th article, and am now – as of today as my first post was on July 7th, 2014 – marking my second anniversary of having my own blog.

I suppose it’s a good accomplishment and milestone, as I’ve been writing online for the past eight and a half years on various royalty and sports sites and merely felt that it was time to do my own thing and start my own site.

I’ve voiced my opinion on many topics, ranging from Asperger’s Syndrome and the progress of “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, my book detailing my experiences of having that form of autism in a non-autistic world (going OK) to movie reviews (specifically the Hunger Games series),

To stating my experiences and opinions on education and the teaching profession,

To political and racial issues,

To being a Christian,

To offering final farewells to folks I admire like Robin Williams, Prince, and Muhammad Ali.

Not to mention detailing the health scare that I went through in October of 2014, a scare that changed how I did things in my life.

Some may say that what I’ve been doing is not too much different from having a journal or a diary; indeed, before I immersed myself in the ways of the internet I kept a journal, writing about my life and my day-to-day experiences and happenings, for a ten-year period – 1993 to 2003 to be precise.

I realize today that it was essentially a diary, only I had no objections to sharing what I wrote.

I like to think that my writing has evolved since that time as when I look at what I wrote in those notebooks back then, as well as the stuff I did online for sites like Hubpages and Bleacher Report, I want to completely rewrite and overhaul more or less all of them, they seem so self-indulgent and “poor me” as far as my articles on Hubpages and Triond and too “rah-rah” as far as my sports posts are concerned.

I think my writings are better now, more objective and a little less emotional – except when it’s an emotional and/or personal issue, of course.

 

As for the future…

I don’t have any major plans for Hartland Chronicles as this blog is not going anywhere; though my sports fan blog, SoCal Sports Annals (here’s the link: http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com) gets much attention and a certain priority as it’s my business for all intents and purposes,

Hartland Chronicles serves a good purpose as it’s my way of expressing myself, getting my thoughts and feelings about topics and issues – personal and otherwise – out there and letting the world know that a (by American society’s standards) middle-aged African-American man with a high functioning form of Autism Spectrum Disorder named Derek Hart existed.

This site, my SoCal Sports Annals blog, and my WALKING ON EGGSHELLS book will be, for lack of a better term, the legacies that I will leave after I’m dead and cremated with my ashes scattered.

Which I hope is a long time from now.

In the meantime, I’ll go ahead and feel a sense of accomplishment over HartlandChronicles.com celebrating its two-year anniversary.

As well as look forward to its three-year birthday next July 7th.

 

 

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I don’t know what my mental and emotional state would be like if I wasn’t able to do this. Photo courtesy of proficientwriters.com

 

 

The State of Race in America (From The Point Of View of Little Old Me)

Martin Luther King jr. Quotes 2

Image courtesy of martinlutherkingday2014.blogspot.com

 

 

Not that my view is all that important as I’m not Henry Louis Gates or Cornel West, and am definitely not any kind of sociologist or expert,

But being that today IS the day we celebrate the legacy of the most famous Black American of African descent in history, a man whose name, along with Mahatma Gandhi, is synonymous with the terms “Peace”, “Unity”, and “Racial Harmony”, I thought it would be a good idea to give my one cent as to how things are between Caucasians of European descent and people of color in these United States.

So here goes…

 

Unlike what I suppose so many others will do today when writing about this topic and the man who we are celebrating today, I’m not going to state any  “I Have a Dream” quotes.

Or any quotes for that matter save for the three I’ve posted in this article’s pictures; there are a zillion other sites, TV shows, and the like where one can get that.

Or visit any elementary school around this time of year, as even the most conservative schools in the reddest of states put together a Martin Luther King, Jr.  assembly or something of that nature, mentioning how the black folks in Montgomery, AL wouldn’t use public transportation for a year in the mid-1950s because a seamstress refused to be moved to the back of a bus one evening.

Along with playing that “Dream” speech in their classrooms.

I’m also not going to say what so many people say around this time, how “We have come so far, but we have a long way to go.”

First of all, considering all the crap that’s been going down lately, that needs to go without saying.

And second of all, people have been saying that for fifty years, yet…

In quite a few ways, I’m convinced that it’s safe to say things have not only have a long way to go, they’ve gotten worse.

Just ask the families of those poor young African-American kids who were murdered by the police.

Or those actors and directors who were snubbed by the Academy Award nominations for the second consecutive year.

Or the students at the University of Missouri and many other colleges who were not only called “Diggers” with a capital “N”, but who have endured “microagressions” – merely a fancy word for “slights” – ever since those institutions of higher learning allowed blacks and other people of color into their halls.

Or the Today show’s Al Roker, who was not only recently passed over in getting a taxi, but that taxi’s driver admitting that he passed Roker over for a white man because of his skin color.

 

 

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All of the world’s as well as America’s racial/cultural issues would be solved if this statement was universally embraced. Image courtesy of eslkevin.wordpress.com

 

I’ll even dare say that I reckon there are plenty of folks who, given the attitude of certain whites – you should read the comments from various online articles focusing on racial issues that I have checked out; they sound as if they were written by members of the Ku Klux Klan, or at least people who sympathize with them – see these times as not unlike the America of the 1950s and previous decades as far as how whites regard blacks are concerned.

Why, one commenter of an article I read today mentioned how he was for segregation, and that he didn’t want to do business with blacks and felt he shouldn’t be forced to, calling it a matter of freedom.

That seems to be the mentality of far too many people, though it’s tragically true that a racist can’t be forced to not be one or to accept someone else whose skin color or culture is different from his as an equal.

Which in my view was the one flaw of the Civil Rights Movement; that it seemed to be the opinion that whites would learn to wholeheartedly love people of color if enough marches, protests, and speeches were done and enough laws were passed.

That if African-Americans were allowed to use the same bathrooms, go to the same schools, eat in the same restaurants – and all the rest – as whites, then those Caucasians would naturally see the error of their racist ways and happily accept all blacks as complete equals.

It’s true that plenty of whites have done exactly that.

But it’s also true that more than plenty of whites have not.

Which is why I state that the Civil Rights Movement had a flaw.

It’s easy for me to say that all of this has left me with a sense of defeat in that true racial harmony will never be a reality not only in America, but throughout the world; check out what’s be going on not only with the current anti-immigration sentiments in Europe but, as the ultimate example, the Apartheid era in South Africa, which was more blatant in its bigotry in that for 46 years, that “separation” policy was in that country’s constitution while American segregation was never federal law, but confined to state and local laws.

But that is a bit too simplistic for me to rest my complete convictions on.

As for the future of race relations and the chances of true racial love and harmony in this country, which Dr. King based his life’s work on, I have just five words in regards to that:

 

I HONESTLY DO NOT KNOW.

 

I don’t know what else to say, except to trust God that it will all turn out well.

As Malcolm X once said, “..It takes God himself to solve this racial problem.”

 

 

Martin Luther King jr. Quotes 1

Image courtesy of adanyd.hostoi.com

 

 

IN MY HUMBLE OPINION: What I Think Of The Student/Officer Incident In South Carolina

 

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A truly harsh sight, the girl getting manhandled by Ben Fields. Photo courtesy of complex.com

 

Being an African-American, I am pretty sure that the views I’m about to make will probably upset people, particularly to at least some of my fellow blacks.

I wouldn’t be surprised, after saying what I’m going to say, if I was thought of by some as a “Sellout”.

An “Oreo”(that’s white on the outside, black on the inside for those who don’t know).

Someone who is “Bougie”

Or an (the old standby term) “Uncle Tom”.

But I’m going to say it anyway, because it’s how I really feel…

When I saw that high school girl get roughly grabbed, thrown out of her desk chair, and dragged across the classroom by Ben Fields, a Resource Officer (which, by the way, is just a fancy name for security guard) and assistant football coach at the girl’s Columbia, SC school, the first thought that crossed my mind is one that unfortunately has been crossing my mind for a long time,

That what I saw – the rough treatment of young African-Americans (the girl who was roughed up was black and Fields was white, as we all know) – is nothing new and has been going on for as long as there have blacks of African descent in these United States.

The deaths of unarmed black men by police, the riots that resulted from them, and the “Black Lives Matter” movement that has sprung from these racist incidents have been well-documented;  no need to rehash details or specifics.

However…

There was one specific thing that I just cannot help thinking, a thing that I reckon might result in – to put it politely – being seen as something less than supportive of this issue, but I feel that it must be expressed:

Like more or less everyone else, that video clip of the girl being dumped and dragged across the room was sickening in a shake-my-head kind of way to me.

And of course I was glad at hearing the news that Fields was subsequently fired as a result of his actions. I want to make perfectly clear that I join those in condemning them as I fully and 100% feel that he was wrong.

 

OK, here’s the part of my opinion regarding this incident that some folks may not like:

What Fields did was bad and reprehensible, and he certainly deserved to be relieved of his duties.

But the girl was – and is – not completely blameless, either; she’s not the perfect, innocent angel in this particular instance.

According to what I understand happened, Fields was called into the classroom because the girl was being belligerent and willful in not following directions when her teacher told her to put away her cellphone.

Not to mention being flat-out disrespectful to her teacher, an administrator, and to Fields when she refused to get up to leave the classroom with the resource officer, after the teacher and an administrator both told her to leave the room for her insubordination.

If she had left the room what the teacher asked her to do so – heck, if she had obeyed Fields when he told her to stand up and come with him – none of what went down would have went down.

Do I feel that she deserved what she got?

Absolutely not, but she would have saved everyone an enormous amount of grief if she had adjusted her attitude and done something that I’m sure was taught to her in kindergarten (or should have been): Follow Directions.

Regardless of whether or not she felt she didn’t do anything, as that’s something she and all other young folks need to learn and understand.

I recently saw someone on CNN mention that what the girl did was a case of adolescent wilfulness, something common among practically all teenagers, and that she shouldn’t be treated so harshly for it.

Which I understand and agree with, but feel does NOT excuse her behavior as respect for those in authority – teachers, administrators and security officers in this case – has seemed to be lacking in too many of today’s pre-teens and adolescents for too long.

I should know; in the course of over twenty years of working with young people as a P.E. teacher, a coach, a tutor and an after school counselor, I was given more than my share of disrespect from kids, being cursed at, called names, and having had things like money stolen from me among other incidents.

I don’t mean to ramble on and on; all I’m saying is this:

 

What Fields did was wrong and monstrous, something that not only rightly resulted in his being sacked but should result in an assault charge and a civil lawsuit against him.

But if that girl showed some respect, regardless of her feelings, and followed directions instead of being willful and refusing to leave her seat, this incident would NOT have happened.

She would not have been dumped from her chair.

And she would not have been dragged from that room.

If I were an administrator at that school, I would have certainly supported Fields’ firing, but I would have also given that girl detention for insubordination.

 

If this opinion of mine leads some people into seeing me as an “Uncle Tom”, an “Oreo”, or a “sellout”,

Then all I can say is I’m sorry they feel that way.

 

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Despite the opinions I expressed here, one specifically, I hope that doesn’t lead some to think that I don’t agree with this statement or share in this movement’s goals. Photo courtesy of krmg.com

 

 

 

 

 

My Worst Encounter With Racism

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Photo courtesy of suenammirichardsromance.blogspot.com

 

Despite being born after most of the big Civil Rights events – the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the various sit-ins, the March on Washington, the Selma-to-Montgomery March, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts – like pretty much every other African-American I have encountered negative and stereotypical behavior directed towards me because of how my skin pigmentation looked.

This includes being called a word that rhymes with “bigger” and starts with an “N”.

However, the encounter that I consider the worst in my life with regards to this did not involve that epithet…

It was sometime during March, 1991.

I was in the midst of my last year as a student at UCLA at that time, but this personal encounter with racism had nothing to do with that either as it happened off campus.

You see, I had been a youth baseball coach for the past several seasons, working with young people in the Santa Monica Little League and Bobby Sox Softball League. It was my way of staying involved with the game that I consider my favorite, and a way to do something that I enjoyed: interact with kids who liked baseball and softball as much as I did.

I was managing a baseball team in Santa Monica Little League’s Intermediate division – a level geared toward seven-to-nine year olds where the coach pitches, which my brother happened to be on – that season, but for some reason I wanted to coach softball as well.

One day I was reading UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, as I had done every day, when I came across an ad in the classifieds calling for someone to be an assistant coach for a girls’ softball team in a league located near the campus in Westwood.

I remember thinking, “This is perfect for me!” as I called the number listed in the ad.

I won’t mention the name of the lady who answered my call, if I am going to talk about what ultimately happened.

We had quite the conversation, this lady, who was the manager of the Major division (10-to-12-year olds) softball team (whose name will not be mentioned, either) and I. Especially after I told her my experience and qualifications, which at nearly 24 years old were already formidable as I had started on youth baseball coaching staffs while still in high school and had managed a team at not-yet twenty.

She was very friendly to me on the phone, giving me an impression of being very impressed with what I had to say, and she invited me to her team’s next game that following Sunday (I believe) so we could formally meet and – as I had every reason to think – make my joining that squad a formality.

It was what ensued at that field that Sunday that induces bad memories for me…

I had arrived at the diamond about a half-hour or so before the game was to start, feeling very enthusiastic.

When I met this manager face-to-face in the bleachers behind her team’s dugout, however, her expression a bit strange as her in-person demeanor was as unfriendly as it was friendly on the phone. She, in a bit of a gruff manner, asked me to have a seat in the stands and she would talk to me after the game.

Looking back on it now, it was apparent that she was not only surprised to find that I wasn’t a European of Caucasian descent, she was also rather reluctant to interact with someone from a race/ethnic group/culture like mine. Nor did she have any desire to have her little girls interact with any scary-looking black male, either.

I say this because of what she said to me after the game, which her team won and which completely caught me by surprise – and obviously not in a good way:

“We’re going to have another person with us to help the team because he asked first, but I’m going to put your name with the board in case there are any other openings.”

I know this is not exactly what she said – there’s no way I can remember that two and a half decades after the fact – but as far as my memory is concerned, that’s about as close to her exact words as I can remember, especially the four words, “…because he asked first.”

Which to this day I am convinced is a lie, because of this:

How can someone be so friendly to and enthusiastic about someone on the phone, then have their attitude about that someone change 180 degrees the moment they saw them in person for the first time?

I can’t honestly think of any other reason in this case except that she was judging me for the color of my skin rather than, in Martin Luther King’s words, “The content of their (my) character.”

Of course I grew at least a little bitter upon realizing such a couple of days after that encounter, but strangely enough not as bitter as I could have been; I wish I could tell you why that was so, but I can’t as I really don’t know.

I DO know that if time machines existed, I would go back to that episode, go to the league’s board, and charge that lady of racism, telling them about how she was so nice to me on the phone but was virtually the opposite upon setting her eyes on me, giving me the impression that in her opinion, blacks and whites should “stick with their own kind” – how could there be any other explanation?

Could have there been someone who truly asked to assist that team first? Sure. I fully understand that I have no hard evidence of any racist intent by this softball team manager.

But why did she not mention such over the telephone, say something like “We have other candidates to consider; I’ll get back to you with my decision.”

It would have saved me from spending a Sunday making a trip to that field when I could have been doing other things.

I reckon one can see that though I’m not nearly as affected by all of this as I was, being in my late forties, 24 years later the memory remains a bad one, as it would for roughly 95% of the African-Americans out there.

I never saw that lady again, though I do forgive her for what happened in those Persian Gulf war, George Bush Sr. days.

It’s not my intent to grind any axes or hold any real grudges; she may even be dead by now, and it’s just not worth it to me to hold any bad anger over what happened.

But it did teach me a real-world lesson, that there are those who will never see African-Americans person as equal to them – intellectually and otherwise – will always consider them as somehow inferior, and a group that they would just rather not interact with.

It’s not a pleasant lesson to learn, but it’s an important one not just for blacks, but also for Latinos and other ethnic groups of color.

 

 

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Certainly illustrates my experience here. Cartoon courtesy of huckleberryfinnsatiremap.blogspot.com