I read somewhere that black Americans are suffering from "racial battle fatigue". Sadly, given what has been happening in our country over the past few months, it 's not hard to see why.
And still, through it all, black folks remain the most forgiving and God- fearing people I know. Just check out the images and commentaries from the people on the ground in Charleston. All that hugging. All that loving. All that praying together. It takes a special kind of person to endure all that and still have love in your heart. (I keep hearing Hillary pandering to a church full of black folks with that James Cleveland quote in my head.)
A lot of my brothers and sisters here in America are built like that. I guess it's a kind of coping mechanism. How else are they going to survive? Better go along to get along. Don't rock the boat, look down when you talk, and step to the side when crossing paths on the sidewalk.
Lord knows we don't want to set off another racist and have him act out his hatred in a very real way.
Although, given what happened just today in Richmond, Virginia, it might already be too late.
I think I posted this anecdote once on this blog, but this is a good time to tell it again.
So I am playing golf at this very exclusive course in Gonzales, Louisiana. A friend of mine is a hot shot lawyer down there and he happens to be a member. On one of my visits down there we got a foursome together and he invited us to play a round at his club.
One of the people in the foursome was the head of the local NAACP in a very large town in Louisiana at the time. One or two of the guys in the group were hackers, so our round was not moving along at a very good pace.
Behind us a group of gentlemen started yelling for us to speed it up, and someone in the group threatened to call the golf course Marshall to have us thrown out. My friend, the member, told them to play threw, but they were having none of it.
Eventually someone from their group approached us and asked us if there was a problem. Why is it, he wanted to know, couldn't our group play faster? This is when it got interesting, because, well, I just couldn't take it anymore. I told him in no uncertain terms to go f*^* himself and that we will take our time and enjoy our round of golf because we were still within the time limits set by the course Marshall. And that if he and his group didn't want to play through, as they have every right to do, they could wait.
My friend, Mr. NAACP, was beside himself. He wasn't mad at the arrogant prick and his friends; he was mad at me for having the nerve to talk back to them. "Wayne, that's not how we do things down here. Would it have hurt to apologize and explain that we have a couple of guys in our group who aren't very good?" My reply went something like this: Actually Alvin, it would have. And if you are the president of the NAACP down here I feel sorry for your members.
Needless to say that our relationship has been strained ever since. The point is, even as the leader of the NAACP, he saw nothing wrong with taking this guy's crap. Maybe it was out of fear. (I later learned that the guy was some powerful and wealthy businessman in South Louisiana.) Maybe it was out of some form of survivalist conditioning or Stockholm Syndrome. Who knows? In his world that's just the way it was.
I don't know. On one level I admire the courage and the resilience of the people of Charleston. And yet, on another level, I just keep going back to that golf course. "Wayne, that's not how we do things down here."
Well maybe it's time y'all started doing things a little differently.