HELP! I Need a White Man!

14 Jul

Do you know what I discovered many, many years ago?   Everybody needs a white man as a side-kick to get over in America, especially if they are black, brown, or tan.  People put on you what they fear and they see you through the eyes of their own ignorance.   Because of this, living in America can be rough when you’re attempting to engage in the activity of simply “walking while Black.”  I know this because I’m black, and I’ve been profiled since the age of ten years old, and I’m now sixty-five-years old.    I’ve been profiled so many times that as soon as I could, I decided (if I was ever going to have any peace on this Earth) to get me a white man to ease my passage through life.

Walking while black John Darkow  Columbia Daily Tribune  Missouri

Used by permission:  John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri

When I was ten years old and living in Cleveland, I grabbed my little sister, Pee-wee, who was seven years old and snuck onto the trolley train via the back door.   We rode it all the way to its final stop in Shaker Heights where only white people lived.  I don’t know why I did this.  It just seemed like a good idea at the time.

“Pee-wee, let’s go find the land where only white people live; it will be fun.”  I said.

By the time we got to the end of the line in Shaker Heights where the only black faces were the maids in white uniforms getting off the trolley to clean the houses, Pee-wee and I were totally and hopelessly lost.  The only people left on the trolley was a white couple in their sixties, and when they realized we weren’t the children
of one of the maids, the man became apoplectic and began to yell and scream at us for daring to enter a neighborhood where we did not belong.  Pee-wee and I were scared to death and had no idea how to get back to the “black side of town.”  Because I’ve always had more mouth than sense, I think I said something tantamount to:

“Fuck you, old man—you not my mama!”

On those choice words, the old man chased after us and tried to beat the shit out of us with his cane.  Fortunately, his wife had more sense than he did and pulled him off of us before we were hurt too badly.   I knew right then and there that I was going to need something more than my good looks and sharp tongue to get me safely through life—I was going to need myself one of them white men as a guardian angel!

racial profiling

When I met my husband (WW—“White and Wonderful”), one of the things that I fell in love with was his ability to rescue me out of situations that the profiling of the color of my skin seemed to entrap me into during the day.  Here was a man who had papers from the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) to show his direct lineage to Governor Bradford of the Mayflower.   On top of that, he was always told he could be President of the United States at the very best or a lawyer at the very least.  Consequently, the man thinks the world is his oyster and has no fear. The dude can go anywhere and no one ever questions him “walking while White.”  Awesome!  So we developed a code.  He was to accompany me where “walking while Black” might get me killed if I were alone, and whenever I met an impasse on my own, I would simply holler or ring my husband on the phone with a quick command:  “Come quick—I need a white man to rescue me!”  He would arrive—Johnny on the spot—and I would appear less scary, richer, or more respectable to the profiler (remember this was a while ago—in the early days of our marriage).  It came to be known between us as:  SECRET WHITE HERO COMES TO AID OF ET “WHILE WALKING BLACK.”

Trayvon vs blasphemy of character John Cole The Scranton Times Tribune

Use by permission: John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune


While living in all-white neighborhood in Virginia Beach, VA and having walked every day for six months with two white friends who lived in same neighborhood, I attempted to walk the exact same route alone one morning.  I wore what I wore every day:  an African head-wrap (as was the fashion of the day in the Black community), a jacket to ward off the chill, earphones covering my ears, and my hands in my pocket to keep the Sony Walkman from banging against my leg and bruising it. 

PROFILER(s):      (Two old white women following me in their car for ten minutes or so who began to shout at me with indignant anger.)   “Hey, what are you doing in our neighborhood?  What’s that in your pocket?  What’s that thing on your head?  Where have you come from and where are you going?  You better not be here when we get back!”

“Baby—I need a white man”:   I stood my ground (couldn’t go anywhere else—I lived around the corner) and white husband walked with me on days that white friends could not.  I never saw the old ladies again.  Never had any more trouble but sure would like to have been able to walk alone again, because that was my time of meditation with my God.  Should have told the old white bitches I was praying but didn’t think they would believe me or care.

African head wrap fashionfordames dot blogspot dot com

African head wrap

While putting groceries in back of my station wagon in the grocery store parking lot in Virginia Beach (what was it about that goddamn city?), a white man sneaks up behind me and scares the shit out of me.

PROFILER:   “What are you doing in the back of this car?  Whose car is this?  Where did you get those groceries?”

“Darling—I need a white man”:   Profiler disappears into his church van when I stand my ground . . .

“You got a problem with me putting my damn groceries in my own damn car?”

. . . while I threaten to call my white husband to kick his ass.  Husband shops with me for a while to establish a pattern hoping that profilers will get over themselves in the town that Pat Robertson built.  Never understood why the profiler (“the man of God”) thought I’d be stealing diapers, paper towels, eggs, and cleaning products from a car I clearly had opened with my own key.  I wonder what sermon he’d ever heard that profiled black suburban moms stealing station wagons while clutching their grocery list in one hand and coupons in another.

Bag of Candy Defense Florida Gun Law John Cole The Scranton Times Tribune

Used by permission:  John Cole| The Scranton Times Tribune

While jogging in upstate New York, the Po-Po (police) followed me more than once, often interrogating me about why I was running along a deserted country road.  (What’s that old racist joke?  If you see a white man running, he’s jogging; if you see a black man running, he’s just robbed somebody.)  I took to wearing all sorts of bling, makeup, and expensive jogging suits to give off the signal that I was one rich-bitch that belonged in the neighborhood, so piss off.

PROFILER:           (The Po-Po) “Who are you?  Where are you going?  You look like the fifteen-year-old delinquent who escaped from the reform school last night.  Where did you get all this jewelry and these new clothes?  Did you rob a jewelry store and the fashion boutique on Main Street?  Let me see some identification to prove you are who you say you are.  A thirty-four-year old school teacher—who are you kidding?”  (I guess I should have been flattered that I looked fifteen, but I knew I didn’t really—the Po-Po only saw my black skin and profiled it into what he feared.)

“Honey—I need a white man”:    My white avenger moved us to Israel for three years after that, and what a great relief it was to live in a country where I was just the “American” and nothing else.  I could walk around and not be profiled and enjoy myself as a person.  I finally could fully taste freedom.

I’ve been profiled while shopping (“you can look at the watch but I won’t take it out of the case, because you people always steal”), profiled while depositing a check into our joint checking account after the sale of our house (“yeah, right, I’m supposed to believe your name is really Tomczyk—Smith, maybe, but never a Polish name”), and profiled while returning to the US from Canada after a business trip the week after 9-11 (“before you board, security needs to do a full-body cavity search on you, your seat will be changed, and an air marshal will be sitting beside you into DC—it is what it is.  You fit the profile—you are the only black person on the plane!”).  The list is endless and still I love this country, yet I can’t imagine having lived this long if we had had “Stand Your Ground” laws all the times I was profiled. The words hurt, but I got over those and so would Trayvon Martin, if Zimmerman had stayed in his truck and not stalked that child when he was “walking while Black” with Skittles and a tea.

Trayvon Right to Life Adam Zyglis The Buffalo News

Used by Permission: Adam Zyglis | The Buffalo News

I am discovering that the verdict of “not guilty” for George Zimmerman has left me in a great deal of pain, a lot of despair, and an inordinate amount of fear for the future of my grandson.   I listened to and read all of the defense and prosecution’s examination and cross-examination of the witnesses at the George Zimmerman trial.  If I am being honest, I knew the trial was going to exonerate Zimmerman half way through because his lawyers had mounted a much more vigorous defense than the prosecution’s case.   I don’t have a law degree, but I could tell when the prosecution’s case derailed which was high on emotion but lax on connect-the-dots facts.   The jurors didn’t necessarily believe Zimmerman’s lies, but they were charged to convict only if the prosecution had proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  I would want that type of defense if I had been in Zimmerman’s shoes.   The system worked, and I can’t fault the jury.  I, for one, will respect the jury’s verdict and leave Zimmerman in God’s hands.

George Zimmerman has been found “not guilty” but that is not the same as being found “innocent.”  Zimmerman knows he lied.  Trayvon Martin knows Zimmerman lied.  God knows that Zimmerman lied.  Martin Luther King once said:  “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”  God—the “Hound of Heaven,” and my big white man in the sky (just kidding, I know that God is black and is a woman—Ha!)—will have his justice for innocent blood that has been shed.   George Zimmerman has no idea what it is like to be profiled, but he will find out when the God of the Universe gives him no peace until he repents.  So go on Zimmerman—you’ve got a “get out of jail for free” pass now, but God don’t like ugly, and Hell ain’t half full yet!

RIP Trayvon The Truth



“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.  That includes me.”President Obama speaking on the death of Trayvon Martin

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-nessan American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”W.E. DuBois

 “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”—Desmond Tutu

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”—Frederick Douglass

“One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him.”—Socrates

“He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it.”—Plato

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on July 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


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30 responses to “HELP! I Need a White Man!

  1. Sondra Smith

    July 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Well said!

    Dustin Hoffman, while making the movie “Tootsie, was asked…”How did it feel to be a woman”? His response was, the right question should be, “how would my life be different if I were born a woman”. Every person should be asking themselves, how would my life be different if I were born a person of color. Think about it. Then you may understand that justice is for a few privileged, freedom is for a few privileged. The right to walk where you want to at anytime of the day or night is for a few privileged. Showing anger is for a few privileged, and the list goes on.

  2. momshieb

    July 14, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I remember you writing about your “walking while black” story a while ago, and I was thinking of you so much last night. (No, you are NOT my only black friend!!!) But I just kept thinking about the complete lack of fairness and justice in this whole situation. I am so sad today, and just so damned determined to make things better somehow.
    What a sad day in American history.
    And may I recommend a great book? “The Warmth of Other Suns”. Should be required reading for every American.

  3. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer

    July 14, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I couldn’t believe it when I heard the verdict.and those stupid, indiscreet lawyers of Zimmerman’s were so upsetting in their glee and laughter. They should have some respect for those in the courtroom still in mourning. Outrageous!

  4. talesfromthemotherland

    July 14, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    It’s almost too painful to comment, E. the verdict is shocking and, equal parts- not at all surprising at all. It makes my heart hurt. And the fact that you too have faced such wretched injustices… Leaves me cold, and ashamed of my skin color.

  5. Sylvester James LeBlanc

    July 15, 2013 at 3:21 am

    This is an awesome post. I pray things change so soon. You are so awesome, I love your writing. 🙂

    • etomczyk

      July 21, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      Chris. So glad to see you again! Hope all is well. Thanks so much for such a gracious comment. Don’t be a stranger because I miss you hanging around these parts. Cheers!

  6. nonnie9999

    July 15, 2013 at 3:47 am

    i was on a jury twice–once for 14 months in federal court and once in county court for a one-day DUI trial. therefore, i try not to second-guess a jury when they make a decision. i know that they are not privy to a lot of the information that we have. that said, i also know that, even though you are only to consider the evidence presented in court, you don’t leave your common sense at the door. the prosecution didn’t have to connect the dots, because the dots were so obvious. zimmerman was the one who got out of the car after being told to stay there. he was the one who created the situation. common sense. if trayvon was looking for a fight, and he was a 4-minute mastermind as the defense suggested, would he really stay on the phone having a conversation about when the basketball game started? common sense. if he spent those 4 minutes strategizing, wouldn’t he have taken inventory of what he had with him that he could use? wouldn’t he have punched zimmerman with the full can of tea rather than with a fist? common sense.

    when does self-defense kick in? supposedly, zimmerman was on the bottom and therefore was not the aggressor. does that mean that, if they had rolled around and trayvon was on the bottom and zimmerman on top, then trayvon had every right to shoot zimmerman? a fight is a fight, and the dynamics change from moment to moment. however, what didn’t change is that ZIMMERMAN CREATED THE SITUATION, and he is therefore the aggressor. common sense. if you bash someone’s head on concrete repeatedly, your hands will be a mess, and there will be blood on you and your clothing. the other person’s head will also be a bloody pulp. zimmerman had nothing more than a couple of booboos. common sense. if they were fighting on concrete, how did trayvon’s body wind up on the grass? zimmerman said he slid over to the grass. if that’s the case, then trayvon no longer had concret–his “weapon” (as the defense called it). therefore, zimmerman’s life was no longer in danger, so it was not self-defense. common sense.

    there’s so much more–zimmerman knew the cops were on their way, the yelling for help ended exactly when the shot was fired. trayvon could have not seen the gun, and even if he had, if his knees were on zimmerman’s shoulders, as zimmerman said, then how the hell did anyone get the gun? why didn’t zimmerman say that he was in the neighborhood watch? why did zimmerman lie about getting out of the car to find an address when nobody asked him for one, and there are only 3 streets in the entire complex? for that matter, why did he lie about so many things? only someone with a lot to hide tells that many lies. common sense. common sense. common sense.

    this is too long already, but just one other thing. on the DUI case, the cop who arrested the defendant made a lot of mistakes–major ones. it was his first arrest and his first time testifying. he got everything wrong, even the time of day when the incident occurred. maybe i was profiling, but i knew the guy was guilty. he was a stupid kid in his early 20s who showed little respect for everyone and everything. however, because the cop was so wrong about everything, we had no choice but to find the guy not guilty. it still bothers me that he might have driven under the influence again and hurt someone after that. that’s why i try not to second-guess juries. someone on the outside who saw that kid might have thought we were nuts for not convicting him, but they would not have seen it from our perspective and with our limited knowledge of what had happened.

    the other case, the federal one, was very complex. we had 14 months of testimony to go through, and we did that. during our deliberations, though, we used our common sense. crimes are usually not perpetrated in front of a few movie cameras so that you can see every moment and watch everything that happens. the attorneys give you as much information as they have. it’s up to the jury to figure out the entire scenario. i’m not saying that the jury should make up their own facts. they should, however, figure out what makes sense and what doesn’t. i think that, in this case, the jury blew it big time. i can understand them having a problem choosing between 2nd degree murder and manslaughter, but i just can’t see how there was any reasonable doubt as to who created the situation and, therefore, who was guilty.

    sorry to rant, eleanor. hugs to you and to your grandson. i’m not religious, but i’ll do my version of praying for him and all the other kids out there.

    • etomczyk

      July 21, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      Nonnie: I loved “the rant”! I’m hoping Trayvon will not have died in vain and that his death will cause a retooling of the “Stand Your Ground Laws.” One can always dream!

  7. Elyse

    July 15, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Eleanor, our country is a sadder place today because we learned that if you pick a fight with a man and he dies, it’s all ok because you might have been scared fine was taller than you, or stronger than you or, god forbid, DIFFERENT FROM YOU.

    I fear that the result of this case and this verdict will be that more people will be carrying guns, and that folks won’t bother calling 911 (why did Zimmerman call and then ignore them?). They will simply.”stand their ground”

    What a travesty.

    • etomczyk

      July 21, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Elyse, what really bothers me is that, if indeed Trayvon was scared and fought back, wasn’t he “standing his ground”? I hope this child’s life will not be in vain and that it will be the impetus to challenge and strike down the “Stand Your Ground” laws. One can always dream. Take care.

  8. Valentine Logar

    July 15, 2013 at 7:31 am

    I, like you, knew he would be found ‘Not Guilty’. The prosecution did not prove the case against him, they allowed to many lies to go unchallenged. Nevertheless, when the court clerk read that verdict my heart stopped and tears rolled down my cheeks, a child is dead and the stone face of his killer finally cracked a smile.

    How do we, as a nation, call this justice?

    Thank you for writing this.

    • etomczyk

      July 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks Val. I just came back from your blog and absolutely loved what you wrote. Because there are those who would hold you up as a poster child for the need for “Stand your Ground” laws and for the justification for what Zimmerman did. Your ability to have perspective and forgiveness takes my breath away. I am in awe of you. xoxoxo

  9. composerinthegarden

    July 15, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Eleanor, such a powerful post; thank you for sharing publicly all of those instances of profiling. I don’t think many white people actually believe it happens like that. I remember years ago when a friend was always extremely cautious crossing the city streets. I finally asked him why and he said he had almost been hit deliberately by cars driven by white men more than once for “walking while black.” I was shocked and have never forgotten his story.

    I too lived in Virginia Beach for a while; a strange mixture of conservative born agains, active military, and New Age folk. I miss the ocean but not the rest of it.

    And kudos to WW for loving you and taking care of you; hopefully we can move into a world where his kind protection isn’t necessary any longer.

    • etomczyk

      July 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks Lynn. I didn’t know you had lived in Va Bch. But you get how strange the place is. I don’t miss it, either.

      I’m hoping that Trayvon’s murder will be the turning point that course corrects that demonic “Stand Your Ground” law and one more nail in the coffin of the gun industry. I will always hope. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  10. imagesbytdashfield

    July 15, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I am at a loss for words let alone any witty response. The more things change the more there really is an element of “sameness”.

    • etomczyk

      July 23, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      TD: You are so correct! But it is better than it was when we were little, and it will continue to get better. We just have to remain forever vigilant. Take care.

  11. becomingcliche

    July 15, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Thank you for the reminder of how far we have come and yet how very far we have to go. How very far.

    • etomczyk

      July 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      BC: Yes we have come far. But our kids will carry the torch farther. That’s why we must be vigilant against unjust forces that would try to push us back into the 1950s. Ciao!

  12. eurobrat

    July 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I would love to be a sidekick too, but unfortunately I’m one of those people with lady parts, so I don’t qualify either.

    And yeah, what a messed up verdict. It makes me so angry that I haven’t really talked about it much, as anger just makes me incoherent.

    • etomczyk

      July 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Hi Eurobrat. I know exactly what you mean about the anger. Hopefully, something good will come out of this verdict, like a change of the “Stand Your Ground” law. God help us all if it doesn’t.

      • eurobrat

        July 24, 2013 at 12:00 am

        Yep, that’s what I’m hoping for as well.

  13. sonia

    July 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Thank you!!!

  14. Lindy Lee

    July 21, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    That trial was lost for Trayvon’s justice at the moment the jury was selected, eliminating the only black person who could have hung it up. Any lawyer worth his salt knows this to be true…

    • etomczyk

      July 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Lindy Baby: It looks as if you stored up all my posts for a year, girl! But I really appreciate your reading them. That’s so sweet.

      You are right, that jury was never going to do the right thing. The Defense put Trayvon on trial and the jury bought it. Sigh!

      • Lindy Lee

        July 31, 2013 at 10:34 am

        For shame upon those who refuse to see the truth…

      • etomczyk

        August 2, 2013 at 9:22 pm

        Amen, sister-friend! 🙂

  15. Hudson Howl

    July 21, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    You are far from the mountain top but you walk in reality and that is where the valuable lessons are learned, then passed on. More often then not, the mountain top is hidden in cloud and mist. The valley is where one finds what really matters. So I take what you give, though not a Sunday morning pick-me-up, still one needs to face the news -albeit bad.

    There is sanity and sanctuary from acknowledging injustice. That one needs, that any society should at some point embrace ‘stand your ground’, NOT in the Florida self-defence law mandate but in the moral sense. The moral way is a compassionate way. ‘Stand your ground against injustice’. Learn and then change.

    ‘Everybody needs a white man as a side-kick’, I seen this first hand, at a scope I don’t believe will be forgotten. On vacation, on one those bigger is better cruise ships, we were sat a large table for breakfast. Three couples of profilers to the left and a sunken, quiet, withdrawn black couple to the right, obviously ignored and shunned from taking part in conversations. This couple was doubled profiled, they were black and they were gay. Enters white man and white women. Within minutes gay black couple had pictures of their two adopted children sprawled out in front of unsuspecting superhero white couple. They kind, colourful and their zest for life intoxicating. A friendship was forged for the reminder of the cruise. Both couples shared details of their lives and enjoyed each others company whenever they met. …….shortly upon meeting I recall looking over at the profilers. They were silent, withdrawn and quiet. What goes around comes around.

    This was pure Eleanor. And could have only been written by you. You truly are a teacher and I was happy to be a student in this lessen.

    • etomczyk

      July 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      First of all, Hudson, I tried to leave this comment on your blog but it kept dumping me out. I loved your poem. It was so lovely. I wrote the following:

      Well, my lovely poet, you had me with:

      “Simmering to a syrupy reduction of vivid passion.

      To be drizzled on the hurts that follow.

      That hit, like a sledgehammer.”

      I’ve lived this. So lovely, so broken, so beautiful. Thank you!

      Now as to the masterpiece you wrote in my comment section, it took my breath away. Each week I wait for your comments because they give me much to meditate on. I loved, loved, loved the cruise dinner story. Bravo! I just adore you! Ciao.

      • Hudson Howl

        July 23, 2013 at 11:53 pm

        Thanks for the heads up E, your message was greatly appreciated. I have put your comment into the post and replied to it. I suspect the problem you had commenting stemmed from DDos Attacks on servers, mostly those hosting on board wordpress dot org (though not exclusively) world wide. I rambled on about this in my reply to your comment.!comment-1641

        I just finished reading your ‘Annie wants a gun’ and I will be commenting but because of the hour, this Dog needs it’s sleep. But I will say this. If I believed for one minute you were serious about pack’n having never owned one. If you did, I would bet you would be destroying it in less than 24 hours. Guns are scary -no there not really as scary as you think. What is scary, if one is a thinking person of conscience is when the realization hits just how much power is within reach. And to just how much responsibility comes with it.


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