Three young black men, ranging from around 19-25 years of age, walk in a 7-eleven in an upper middle class neighborhood.
All three have their baggy jeans hanging off their asses with wife-beaters on, hair nappy and unkempt.
Lips dark as coal, air of arrogance and ignorance immediately fill the small convenience store as soon as one of ’em open their mouths, which happens to be as soon as they enter.
The young Middle-Eastern-American clerk behind the register goes from discreetly watching me use the ATM positioned at an angle in a corner of the store, to studying every detail and step of the three men. There are three other 7-eleven customers wandering through the limited aisles. They’re all Caucasian.
The three men intentionally starts to heckle the clerk while arrogantly snatching chips, cookies, chocolate bars and other miscellaneous junk food from the middle aisle which happens to be perpendicular to the cash register.
“I’m taking this shit, and this too, and this. I ain’t payin’ for nona’ this shit.” One of the young men proclaims to everyone.
Funny how I notice that the atmosphere in the small 7-eleven goes from care-free and lazy to nervousness and a sense of urgency to either do what you came to do and get the hell out or forget about what you came in here to do and just go.
The customers quickly glance from the three boisterous black “customers” to the young passive-looking clerk, then back to the items in hand or the products on the shelves oblivious to the fact that I’m staring at them, mentally noting their reactions to the three hoodlums.
I, too, would like to just leave but I came in to get a MoneyGram money order and the stupid ATM is taking forever. It’s too early in the morning so my bank is yet to be open. I’ve already fed the machine my six hard-earned Benjamin Franklin adorned bills so I’m not leaving until I complete my transaction, to hell with those Negros.
Now all three black men have partaken in this act of proving that stereotypes are not just stereotypes.
“Yo, gimme a six-pack! We ain’t payin’ for nona this shit!” I can hear presumably the ring leader ordering one of his boys.
“If you don’t pay, get out!” The clerk finally shouts.
“Nigga, fuck you! We takin this shit!” The ringleader shouts, which invites his other two partners to resume their obnoxious and boisterous display of acting or perhaps “being” exactly how “they” already perceive us.
A white woman, going with her intuition, thinks: “fuck it” (which I’m assuming she’s thinking in her mind) and goes for option two: she chooses not to purchase a thing, she quietly but quickly exits the 7-eleven.
The other two white males act as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on.
I can tell that this kind of behavior makes them nervous, with their perfectly pressed slacks and their perfectly tied ties, and their luxury automobiles patiently waiting by their gas pump and/or parking space, waiting for them to get their morning donuts, coffee or newspaper before driving to their corporate offices.
The ATM finally spits out my money order. I shake my head as I watch the clerk pretend to be brave. I try to think how many minutes have gone by and how the police station is right down the street.
Why are they prolonging this idiocrasy?
I’m greatly embarrassed by my “brothers”.
I want to grab them by the ears and tell em to stop “actin’ black”
I want to order them to” Pull up your damn pants!”
“Either cut yo damn hair, comb it, or have it locked, twisted, or braided but dammit do something to it and do u know you have a twig or somethin’ stuck in that nappy ‘fro?”
“Why you gotta be so loud, obnoxious and smellin’ like weed at 6 o’clock in the damn mornin?”
“Do you LIKE and enjoy acting like a low-life/no-life/need-a-life or do you not know that you have a choice?”
(Cashier) To the Caucasian customers I want to apologize and convince them that not all of us are that way. For I am sure and convince that they have seen some of my professional brothers/sisters in their buildings,
teaching their offspring,
investing/managing their money,
healing their loved ones,
protecting their streets,
presiding in office…….
Politics, literary scholars, current events, Business and economics; I am sure they have held a conversation with us pertaining….
the “fed-up” side of me is causing a dilemma:
my African-American comrades and my poor black islanders feel like no one should be ignorant enough to critique/judge a whole race by groups/individuals actions
My self-assured brothers & sisters know that “they” are not the end-all that we have to look for in acceptance
Why should I be embarrassed/ashamed by a few hoodlums just because we share the same colors?
Would I have been just as embarrassed/ashamed if I had seen a promiscuous woman soliciting her womanhood?
Would I have been embarrassed to be a woman? Would I have apologized profusely?
Even if I had demanded that they stop acting like “niggas” and even if they had pulled up their pants, combed their hair, displayed some tact, spoken intellectually, supported their children, gone to school, been well-read, and …
and anything else…
would we still not be black?
Is that not what they see first?
No matter what, I am still black
I am still intelligent, majestic, and refined
By Bien-Aimè Wenda from the book, Alter Ego