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.
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!
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.”
Use by permission: John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune
EXAMPLES OF ET WALKING WHILE BLACK
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.blogspot.com
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.
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.
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!
“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-ness—an 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
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