RACISM AIN'T DEAD YET...
Before you go all Obama/Dr. King/Biggie Smalls crazy with the rest of your holiday weekend, I just thought I'd come back to say hello and burst your bubble with regards to race relations in America, and specifically in the south.
Absolutely 100% true story:
Last night, after doing research for the job, I went to my old bar hangout in Marietta, GA. It's called Churchill's Pub. You don't normally see a lot of black folks in and out of there, but they do come through. I get treated like some sort of celebrity by the staff and owners, simply because I've weathered 2 years of coming in consistently. Working across the street at another bar made it accessible, and the fact that they have really good food, free wi-fi and would let you order a pitcher of beer for yourself were enough to keep me coming, even though I would sometimes sense race hate from the other side of the bar. Which I never pay much attention to anyway, but sometimes I would actually engage the people directly with a sarcastic smile and a knowing look.
It wasn't that way last night, but there was this dude that I know pretty well from seeing him there a lot, sometimes with his mom and dad. He was hanging out with this guy that looked like he was born in a hunting jacket; like he literally fell out of a deer's coochie one morning, reached for a rifle and shot his own mother dead. This guy was short, pudgy and had extremely wild eyes -- probably from meth of coke or... who knows -- and did all he could to get my attention when he played "99 Problems" by Jay-Z on the Rhapsody jukebox. I gave him a salute and even played along with him when he shouted out the lyrics to the part of the song where the officer is talking to Jay. You know: "Cuz I'm young, and I'm black/and my hat's real low/do I look like a mind reader, sir?/I'ont know..."
This is ironic, because 20 minutes later, as I walk over to say what's up to the other homie, he meets me in front of the jukebox, like, "Are you gonna play some shit!!@?? (drunk as hell). I was like, "Um... yeah!?" And he was then like, "YEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!" So I guess that meant we were cool. It had to mean he had established some type of relationship with me, at least in his mind, because not 5 minutes later, as I'm looking through the web, he does the irritating thing which people always do when I take my computer into a public place -- ask if I'll go to some stupid website or YouTube video. This time, I said "Sure," and actually found this really cool site that showcases a local artist who lost his arm or something and draws completely with his mouth. So I say to him, "That's actually cooler than I expected it to be, my man." And he says, "OH!!! YOU WANNA SEE SOMETHING COOL?!??!@@#%?! CHECK THIS SHIT OUT, MAN!!*#!"
That's when he pulls out his phone and shows me how he won last year's Halloween costume at a neighborhood party.
I actually got the guy to send that picture to my email address. That's really him. Now, if you're white and reading this, you might be thinking, "Aww, come on, Mike. That's not really racist! It's just a harmless joke! Stop being so damn sensitive and taking all the fun out of something that's not even that big a deal..."
True, true. Sounds great, but what was I supposed to say about the picture of his black dog, who he called his "down-ass nigger" and bragged about how well-trained he is, and why I'd love him, and why I should come over to their house to get really drunk(er) with the whole backwoods family.
I politely declined, shook my head a little and laughed. Finished my drink, turned back to him and asked a very simple question:
"So, did you vote for Obama?"
He said no.
I paid out my tab, walked over to the bartender and gave her a hug, tipped my waitress, threw the deuces to our shared homie, and after putting on my long, black winter coat and throwing my Macbook back into my leather shoulder bag -- looking like a future black senator, I might add -- I extended my hand to shake that of my new, ignorant-to-his-own-racism friend and said:
"You're actually a cool cat, besides your bullshit. Hope you think twice about your picture and the N-bomb in the future. Oh, and happy MLK day."