Monday, January 18, 2010

A Taste of Bigotry

The Seed
(by R.P.Edwards)

The Seed of hatred
Is in the flesh
The human fabric
Unholy mesh
An ancient planting
Rebellion’s need
When nurtured, yielding fruit…that bleeds
 But love will quell
The vile growth
The Father’s Word
The living oath
But till perfection
Wary be
For in the flesh
There hides…the seed

I suppose I blacked out for a moment.  Just as well.  The second act was memorable enough without full consciousness. 

It was nearly three decades ago and I was a graveyard shift security guard/janitor for a sort of motel overflow building in, of all places, Waikiki.  Now, it wasn’t beachfront, but one street back, and this two story building for which I was the “guard” had, along with some extra rooms upstairs, a few touristy shops on the ground level.  Well, along with my duty of keeping an eye on things I also had to clean up the place (litter and pigeon poop mostly) and, as you can imagine, there was quite a nightlife in paradise when the sun went down (even one street back). For a while things went along in a routine fashion, but I remember on one particular evening that I came across a fellow using one of “my” benches  for a bed (a no no) and, upon my simple request that he change positions I received, instead of simple compliance; what I got was an in-your-face confrontation with one of the locals who held me (the “non” islander) partially responsible for some land grabs and other injustices done to his ancestors by some other guys with a similar skin tone to mine.  This history lesson became so heated that police showed up and shooed the guy away.  Turns out he didn’t really leave however.  Nope, he just laid low until he could introduce the back of my head to a beer bottle and, as I was then inclined to recline, he followed up with a special foot-in-the-face aloha.  Now, nearly thirty years later, the knot on my noggin is pretty much gone, but I still have a chipped tooth to remember him by.  My only consolation is that, since sandals were the footwear of choice, maybe I gave him a bad toe-ache. 

And that, dear reader, was my introduction to the other side of racism.  Sure, this fellow may have had some chemicals in his system (don’t know), but his mindset was by no means isolated and, I have to tell you, from my end…it was a bad feeling.  Imagine, being judged by your skin tone.  Being “condemned” because of your pigment proportions.  I didn’t like it.  Not at all.

And so today is the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  As such I thought it only appropriate to review some of his work.  In short order, through the marvel of the internet, I was able to listen to the “I have a Dream” speech given in front of the Lincoln memorial in 1963.  And I have to tell you, though I haven’t walked the walk, or fought the fight…I found it inspiring.  Granted, my little brush with the other side of bigotry is incredibly inconsequential in the light of the meat and meaning of the message.  But it, at least, allows me one grain of truth in order to try and imagine conditions one hundred, one thousand times more intolerable.  And, with this basest of understanding, to pause, if for only a moment, and acknowledge a great man, a great cause, and the great task ahead of not letting the meaning…fail.  Following is the final thought of that speech given nearly five decades ago.

“When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

That's what I think.  How about you?  Click comments below...and say.

1 comment:

justaddmidget said...

Ohh thats what happened. Now its explained. Some people take a few too many wrong turns in life and end up with one eye a little askew. Me, my steering wheel was jammed and kept me coming back to the same spot over and over.
You, you got hit with a bottle. I wish I had a solid excuse.

P.S. If your wife didn't understand the justaddmidget thing, shes most likely normal. Don't push it, she might make you switch crews.