Much like Ferguson, Missouri, I live in a town of 20,000 people, and a good number are black and Hispanic. Many of the young black males wear baggy, low hanging pants and listen to rap music. The young ladies stroll about town with baby carriages.
To say that I have judged them in a certain way would be correct. Deservedly or not, I view the young men as being a source of violent, inappropriate behavior.
My feelings are not based on experience. I have not had personal problems with black folk since I was in college over 30 years ago . Even then, the problems that I had were not of a violent nature. At that time my feelings were based on what I perceived to be obnoxious, rude behavior directed toward me.
So, presently, I base my opinion on their personal appearance, and the fact that their pictures often appear in the newspaper police column, having been arrested for everything from petty crimes to murder.
My personal face to face experience with older black men is quite different. When I am working out at the YMCA, I engage in conversation with anyone who is close by. Oftentimes, the people close by are middle aged black men.
Without exception, these men are friendly, smart, and funny. These conversations make my workout go much quicker and easier. Often, after working out, these men assist me with my workout weights.
So my feelings toward black people is, to a great extent, based on age.
This all leads to an event that took place yesterday. I was driving home from the YMCA when I saw a group of young baggy pantsed black men on a street corner. Across the street was a bag lady, with several bags of bottles.
A large bag broke open, and the bottles spread out over the sidewalk.
One of the young black men noticed the bag lady’s problem and he quickly crossed the street towards her.
I slowed down my car because I thought the young man was going to menace the lady.
But he didn’t.
He picked up every loose bottle and returned them to her bag. He then headed across the street toward his friends.
Stunned, I pulled up to the young man and praised him. He was nervous and pulled away from me.
Maybe this was a one in one hundred event. But it forced me to reevaluate what I thought about young black men. Would other young black men do the same thing?
It’s been a day or two since the bag lady incident, and I haven’t figured this whole thing out yet.
It’s possible that I will become a more accepting, understanding person. Or I might stay the person who has a low acceptance of young black people. It will take time to see which direction I will go.
Either way, one thing is certain-the bag lady episode has permanently changed how I feel about racial issues.