Good morning, y’all. Folks around here always say, “it ain’t the heat, it’s the humidity”, to which I always say balderdash! I’ve worked in New Orleans, in a suit and tie no less, and the humidity didn’t bother me until the temperature got into the upper 70’s. So it’s the heat, dang it, the heat. Remember, you heard it here first.
As hot as it is on the ground, it’s hotter still 10 feet up on the top of the trailer. I got a call from Al Katz in number 72 that his cable was all messed up. See, the problem is, if folks see you out helping the other tenants, they’ll call you instead of the people who charge ’em. Anyway, the problem was obvious when I got there, with the cable laying at the side of the trailer instead of attached to the roof line like it was supposed to be. I got my splicing tools and climbed up onto hell’s launch pad and made the repairs. I don’t know if you’ve ever sweated so much you could wring out your underwear, but fifteen minutes on the roof of that trailer did it for me. When I finished, Mr. Katz invited me in for a glass of ice tea, which I appreciated. As he ran through the channels, checking my work, I noticed that there was rioting in Ferguson, Mo. again. As I walked to the rec room to put up my tools and to park myself in the coldest spot in the room, I thought, “how long, Lord, how long?”.
Before some of you get the wrong impression, let me clarify I was brought up and live in “Whitopia”, where, at one time, people of color understood they were to leave the county before sunset. My first recollection of seeing a black person was when Mom hired a maid to help her with her “extensive chores” back during “the good times”. The first black child I ever saw was when I was about 10 and our maid brought her son to work with her. He was supposed to be helping his mom, but boys will be boys and before long we were in the yard playing football and chasing around like two pups with a sock. Anyway, we were hot and tired and we came in to get a drink of water. As I reached to turn on the faucet, glass in hand, Mom came around the corner and the look in her eyes went from fine to fury in a Yankee second. She snatched the glass out of my hand and in a controlled scream told me that me and that “boy” needed to go outside and drink water from the faucet on the side of the house. These are the moments that the internal voice of self preservation screams,”Don’t argue, don’t say you’re already here with a glass in hand, don’t say that you have to put your head on the ground to get under the faucet to drink, don’t say you’ll get all muddy from the water splashing on the ground while you try to drink”. That same internal voice of self preservation says out loud, “Yes mam” and reminds you to walk out of reach while you retreat.
We learn racism from our parents and because the normal child spends more time with their mother, she shapes our worldview. There you go, Psychology 101 and you didn’t even have to go to class.
My worldview has been altered by a myriad of experiences, some good, a lot of bad. All these experiences leading me to the conclusion we don’t have a dadgum thing to do with our skin color. It just is, we are all accidents of birth. When I saw the news on Ferguson my mind went back again to the glass of water. “How long, Lord, how long?”.