My eyes are blue, my hair is blonde (as long as I continue to have enough money to color it), otherwise it’s brown and lately, gray. When filling out an application, I check the box marked “Caucasian”.
When I was 13 years old I was playing field hockey in my hometown of Provincetown, MA. Our high school team was having a particularly good season. After winning yet another game, we lined up to shake hands with our opponents. As we extended our hands and exclaimed “good game”, the girls on the other team withdrew their hands from ours. I was shocked. I turned to a teammate and said “Oh my God! I’ve never seen such sore losers”.
“No, dummy,” she said, “they don’t want to touch our hands because they think we have AIDS.”
It was the early 1980’s and the news of AIDS was spreading like the disease itself across the nation.
We were kids from Provincetown and P’town is proudly and predominately an LGBT community.
This was the first time I can recall being on the receiving end of bigotry.
The second time was during an eight year stint in Los Angeles.
Two close friends, writer Irene Wiley and (recent Emmy award winning) actor Reginald E. Cathey, asked me to drive them to LAX. We were almost there when stopped at a traffic light, a police cruiser pulled up next to
me and looked into my car.
He saw a small white woman in a car with a large black man beside her and a tall black woman behind her in the backseat.
As the light changed from red to green, the policeman turned on his blues and we were being pulled over.
I rolled down the window and asked what I’d done wrong. He did not ask me for my license or registration. He firmly demanded I get out of the car. He ushered me to the rear of the vehicle and asked me if there was “anything I needed to tell him”.
I was baffled. “Like what?” I asked.
Then it hit me – he thought I was being kidnapped or held against my will in some way.
“I’m just trying to get my friends to the airport before they miss their plane”.
This seemed to assuage his concerns and he allowed us to proceed. This was my first encounter with blatant racism.
The physical and emotional realization of this reality was immense.
It must be terrifying to be black in America. As terrifying now as at any other time in our long, racist history.
Peaceful protesting was proving to be effective until Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in front of a stunned nation.
On the flip side it’s hard to imagine anything good coming from the recent situation in Dallas.When I rack my brain for any potential solutions these things come to mind:
- We must teach our children well.
- We must mix genes and cultures to the point where the lines are so blurred they are no longer lines, they
are threads that intertwine to make a communal fabric that can not be torn.
- We must never stop dreaming that dream.
After eight years of having a black president, race relations are worse than ever.
How can we possibly expect improvement if we elect an open racist like Trump who refers to black attendees at his rally as “My African Americans”?
Or should we vote for a covert racist like Hillary who has used the term “Super Predators” and suggested “They must be brought to heel”?
How about we vote for a person who has been on the front lines, fighting for racial equality since his college years?
How about Bernie Sanders?