Two young guys --- one white and one black --- were walking companionably down the sidewalk along Court Avenue the other day as I was driving toward the grocery store. I noticed, and thought, wow --- in Chariton; this is really cool.
Earlier this year, when fourth-graders toured the museum, a couple of the kids were black and I thought, again, wow; this is really cool.
In both cases, later, I squirmed a little. It's disorienting sometimes to live in a place populated almost entirely by varying shades of white; where the darkest skin usually encountered involves too much time in a tanning booth. And a little scary that every time I see a black face here a mental note is made --- even though benignly.
A couple of months ago, visiting with a Chariton acquaintance of generally liberal outlook, that acquaintance said the damndest thing --- "I don't understand why those beautiful white girls want to be with those black men."
Jesus F. Christ.
Took my breath away and I didn't ask, "what the hell are you thinking?"
Growing up here, where there was no diversity in a time worlds removed ---- I'm developmentally challenged in some ways; first friends of color, made in college; first (and only) black boyfriend, in the military.
It helps a little to be gay; we understand how it feels to be feared and in some cases loathed because of who we are. But, as people of color quite rightly point out, those of us who are gay and white blend.
I have no idea how it feels, in a sea of white, to always be potentially an object.
You know in your heart George Zimmerman, armed with a gun, stalked Trayvon Martin because he seemed out of place in a neighborhood where he had every right to be; confronted Martin; then shot him dead as he scuffled with the unarmed 17-year-old.
But Zimmerman is free, found not guilty of both second-degree murder and manslaughter by a jury of six white people.
Not much to do about that now.
Except, next time some dumb ass says some dumb-ass thing about people who happen to be black, Hispanic, Asian or something else, ask "what the hell are you thinking?"