“Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain.”
A young woman of my long acquaintance told me a story the other week. Seems she and her friend went to a hotel in search of a night of mutual companionship. They had been to that hotel several times, but this time there was a new manager asking to see their identification.
“We don’t rent to local people,” the desk clerk said.
The couple questioned the policy, saying they had stayed there several times and never had never been refused.
They asked to speak with the manager. Alas, the manager was not, the desk clerk said, on the premises.
As the couple stood asking for some explanation of the apparently new policy, in walked three white police officers.
“I was scared,” the young lady told me. “I had seen the news and heard the stories, but it had never happened to me.”
“I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
The good news is the police calmly listened to everyone, then suggested the couple seek a room elsewhere. It was clear the desk clerk was not going to welcome them.
News reports the following day did not tell the story of the Black couple who had been refused a room, or the three officers (it must have been a boring night in the metropolis) who did not shoot the Black man.
We news consumers would much rather stare at a car crash than pay attention to driving around it, so a police call resulting in no one being shot, or even arrested, was not worth the ink or airtime.
I have been wandering the world for a few decades and another human trait I have noticed is we seem to need to be better than others of our species. Sometimes that need pits students of a town against students of another town; we stage homecoming events and laugh at and with the youngsters.
Then they grow up and that rivalry becomes “my country is better than their country.” We call it patriotism, and too often leads to war and a plethora of dead kids on both sides.
Rural kids bully city kids. Encouraged by their adults, many of them they grow up to accept racism. “It is what it is,” after all, a social fiction providing a way for the upper class to direct our attention in an ever downward direction.
Racism always has been thus: our own Civil War allowed white plantation owners to take a break from whipping their human farm equipment to convince their own youth to go to war for “states rights,” omitting that the specific right in question was the right to own Black humans – who were, after all, ill-equipped to mingle equally with their ruling betters.
Many of our social problems, from whether to establish public swimming pools to how to deal with climate warming, are supported by that distraction – the same one a certain politician now uses to threaten white “housewives” with the specter of poor Blacks moving into the neighborhood and destroying tranquility and home values.
Encouraging the existence of a bottom tier of society and keeping it populated with an easily identifiable group – Hitler had the Jews and we have People of Color – keeps most of us distracted from real problems.
And keeps parents and grandparents worrying through sleepless nights that they may already have seen their offspring for the last time.
Thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Comments are welcome, and please feel free to share.