Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s the result of having grown up in a region of the country where even my granny would pull back the curtain with her cane and comment,”There goes those (insert N-word) again.”
Poor white folks made it their business to mind what the poor black folks were doing. I never considered Granny anything but godly, but the truth was she was as racist as anyone else of her generation.
Family myth claims my uncle was a card-carrying member of the KKK.
It’s probably not a myth.
From the time I entered school until I was in my second year of high school, the only blacks I encountered either mopped the floors or spooned up tater tots.
If you knew my granny you’d be shocked. She was the kindest, sweetest, most loving woman, but she simply didn’t know any different.
I didn’t either.
Until I was in high school.
That was when all hell broke loose.
Joe Kirkland got into a fight in the school parking lot. Somebody cut him bad with a switchblade. I heard tell his mama had to carry him to the hospital where he got 20 stitches. Brother Frankie got sent off to military school and Mama threatened to send me off to boarding school in Virginia until I put my foot down and told her if she even tried, I’d run off to Florida. Mama didn’t want any of her other children going to school with blacks but running off to Florida was considered a worse fate. Florida had drugs and the Hell’s Angels.
Blacks had head lice.
Blacks ran in gangs.
Blacks would rape white girls.
It all seems so far away to me now, like watching 8mm reel of somebody else’s life. But the truth is white people all over town started pulling their white kids out public school and sending them off to private “Christian” schools. Schools where white girls couldn’t come into contact with black boys.
It’s changed now. I was in Atlanta recently visiting a girlfriend. Her kids go to one of the region’s most elite private schools. It looked like a college campus. There were kids of every make and model there.
I saw interracial couples embracing on a pier at Mobile Bay and outside the Cameo Theatre in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
That would never have happened when I was growing up. Somebody, probably a lot of somebodies, would have snatched such a couple by the roots of their head for PDA back in the day.
My friend Ralph’s grandaddy was white. His Mee-maw was black. It was against the law for them to marry. So they shacked up at the end of a dirt road. Ralph said it was so his grandaddy could see if the lynch mob was coming for him.
When you grow up in that kind of world, it makes you sensitive to stuff that doesn’t bother other folk. So I simply can’t be objective about this. But when somebody told me to check out Stuff White Christians Like I didn’t like it.
Where I come from, it’s just not funny.
Not in the least.
You might understand if you’d grown up in the world I did.