September 24, 2009

Down At The River

While down at the water I was speaking with an elder man, a native of the city. We were talking of many things as old men will do and we eventually got around to his new vehicle. I was shocked when he said, “Yeah, I ran into this nigger woman down in C________." I was shocked by how ordinary it was for him to just use the word in daily conversation. The ordinariness of what he said was strikingly matter of fact, commonplace. He apparently felt I shared his views and kept talking.

He kept up about the incident about how more “n_____s” kept arriving. He said he felt threatened until friendly deputies showed up. He believed he got the last laugh as he believed the crowd thought the deputies were taking him to jail when in fact they were only giving him a ride home.

Let me tell you as a white man in the deep south that incidents like this are not uncommon. Despite some claims to the contrary there is a very deep vein of racism running through some of the white population. In most cases the N word doesn’t come up until the speaker is sure everyone present shares his or her views. Others just don’t care. It is their worldview and they see/have no reason to change.

The implication is that white folk are superior and that all African-Americans are slow, stupid, inferior, a segment of their society that just has to be tolerated. Their world is literally black and white. Here there are still black and white funeral parlors, black and white churches, even black and white barber shops. Many whites have no interest in dying, worshipping or spending any time in the company of non-whites. The problem is systemic and endemic.

Personally, I don’t understand it. I have felt the sting of being ignored, demeaned and mocked because of my social status. How much worse to endure centuries of organized and (but no less strident) individual, perpetual racism? Are we not all in the image of our maker? Would our Lord create any of less value in his eyes than the other? We are told to love without reservation, not to pick and chose only among those who we believe look like us. The vestiges of racism are an embarrassment to the South, to America and to humanity.

What does it say about me that the old man thought it was ok to speak this way in my presence? I know what it says about me that I was only silent in protest. Lord have mercy.

September 20, 2009


Here are a few photos from a seminar held Saturday at my home dojo. We trained for five hours then had a wonderful barbeque dinner. My Sensei is third from the left on the front row. I'm the old man with the beard on the back row.