“Today’s Amerikkka” by Butch Ford
Today, I experienced something very disturbing and disheartening. My own personal bout with racism. We’ve all read about it, have seen it in the headlines, and watched live posts on social media. But the feeling is totally different when you go through it personally.
Initially I was startled…followed by feelings of disbelief, confusion and then extreme rage. I quickly remembered I was at work, as I gathered myself. But couldn’t believe it was happening to me. Mind you, I drive commercially for our region’s primary suburban transportation service. And I had just finished dropping off a passenger at his home in a modest subdivision in an older neighborhood in Farmington, MI. I parked at the end of the block to review my paperwork and to go over some notes when I noticed an elderly Caucasian man in my rear view mirror backing out of his driveway a few houses away.
I didn’t pay it much attention because I was working and minding my job-related business. He pulled alongside of my vehicle, gestured for me to roll my window down and demanded that I leave immediately. He said I wasn’t allowed to park on the street. I looked away while halfheartedly replying “okay.” He obviously wasn’t pleased with my response and lack of compliance. So, he angrily pulled into the next driveway, turned around and headed back towards me. He got my attention once again and informed me that if I wasn’t gone in 10 minutes that he’d call the police. I told the gentleman that I was a commercial driver parked on a public road. And although not obligated to, I reiterated that I had just dropped a passenger off and had every right to be there. Besides…I wasn’t breaking any laws. He again yelled angrily and aggressively, “I don’t care! You can’t park here! Leave now or I’m calling the police!” What was the root of his anger? I’m still not quite sure. My vehicle was marked and visibly distinguished who my employer was. I wasn’t making any noise or disturbing the peace, nor was I bothering anyone. The only conclusion I could draw was that this man didn’t want anyone African American in his neighborhood any longer than they had to be.
Professionalism outweighed all personal feelings at the time. Thank God. Because things could have taken an ugly turn. I thought back to my grandparents and the stories they told me of entitlement, inequality, social injustice and other similar instances. I remember their deep disdain crystal clear. But as a child I didn’t fully understand. Maybe I wasn’t meant to at that time. And for decades things seemed to have taken a more positive swing. At least here in the north. I don’t recall ever being a target of anyone’s prejudices, but it was extremely unpleasant to say the least.
Throughout the day as I reflected on this incident, I felt a myriad of other feelings. Sadness, shame and pity came to mind. I thought about the younger generation and the things that they will have to endure in their lifetime. Especially with the climate of today’s society and the insensitivity of the world today. Yet again…I’m back to the same question…what can we do to make it better? Things must change! I want to see my kids and grand baby grow up to live happy and productive lives. “Today’s America” is not what our forefathers fought and died for. I have stronger thoughts and opinions regarding this occurrence, but they’re better left unsaid at the time.
Thanks for taking a second to listen,
Photo Cred: Matthis Volquardsen from Pexels