Jan 18, 2010

An Experience In Racism - A White Woman's Perspective

On the Eve of Martin Luther King Day, I have been thinking of his works and his words; one phrase keeps rolling around in my mind.  That one day all men would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.  I believe that has in some regards come true but I believe that the so called Black leadership does not want it to be true, because without the victim mentality, they have no power.

I have never experienced racism, not really, but I came darn close many years ago.  I know how it made me feel and I did not like it one bit.  Through this experience, I believe I have gained an empathy that would otherwise have alluded me.  Let me explain:

Several decades ago, my husband and I found ourselves in a particularly difficult season.  We were struggling financially, we had moved 1000 miles from our home and family, our living situation was untenable, and everything seemed to be falling apart.  We relieved our stresses by taking long walks, in addition to getting us out of the house, we used it for exercise and privacy to talk about what we were going to do and where we were going to go.  One night was particularly rough.  I don't remember the circumstances exactly, but I do remember I had never been so low.  I was crying and my husband had his arm around me as we walked the neighborhood streets.

There was a golf course at the back of the subdivision and as we often did, we turned down the golf cart path to enjoy the pretty course with it's ponds and lush weeping willows.  That night out of no where this man jumped off his gold cart and came charging at us screaming that we were trespassing and to GET OFF THIS COURSE!  I was taken aback, we weren't hurting anything, we were just walking.  The guy was your typical yuppy self important prick and he had a driver in his hand.  We explained we were just walking and had meant no harm.  He screamed that there were signs posted everywhere and he would call the police if we did not leave.

There were no signs but he did not want to hear about it.  He followed us off the course taunting us.  Now, normally, my husband, who is sometimes called the Krusher, would have knocked the man out, but we were so poor and broken we could not have gotten him out of jail.  He was also concerned for me, as I was hurting so much, he just wanted to get me out of there.

I have never in my life felt so rotten and worthless.  I felt stupid and angry.  I realized immediately that this is what racism must feel like.  This is what it would be like to have people judge you based on how you looked.  It must be how it feels when people lock their doors when you walk by at a stop light or check to see if the video camera is working when you walk in a store.  I can not fathom the anger that must be tamped down based on ignorance and fear.  I do not pretend to understand, but I can now empathize.

This world is full of bigots and racist, I am not among them and Praise God for the Yuppy with the golf club, he taught me something.