Are You Kidding Me: 7/30/12


I’ll admit that sometimes I may be naive and optimistic about the state of the world out there. Then, I see something in the news that opens my eyes — an “Are You Kidding Me?” moment.” Today, it was the story about a black couple who was denied permission to marry in a church in Mississippi.

Are you kidding me? In this day and age? Have we come no farther than this? According to an article on CNN’s website, Pastor Stan Weatherford said:

“This was, had not, had never been done here before so it was setting a new (precedent) and there were those who reacted to that.”

Does the fact something has never been done before make it right?

Following a wedding that Pastor Weatherford performed at another church, Charles Wilson, the groom, said:

“If it was such a minority of people, why didn’t the majority stand up and say, ‘in God’s house we don’t do this?’

Amen.

EXCERPT:

Following is an excerpt from THE RED KIMONO, where Terrence, my black teenage character, and his father experience prejudice. This scene takes place in 1942, seventy years ago. Sadly, sometimes it still happens today.

Terrence kept thinking about that Saturday when Daddy took him to a steak house to celebrate the team’s big win. He smelled smoked hickory as soon as he walked in, and his mouth watered just thinking about tasting a juicy piece of meat.

They’d waited at the hostess desk for a long time. But Terrence figured maybe they were busy. Some of the white folks sitting at white-clothed tables began to stare and whisper. Made his stomach queasy, his neck hot. But Daddy stood straight and tall. Looked like he didn’t have a care in the world.

When the hostess finally approached them, Terrence noticed her red lipstick had smudged onto her teeth. She looked real nervous, fidgeting and twisting a pen in her hands.

She stopped behind a podium that held a reservation book. “May I help you?”

“Yes,” replied Daddy. “Table for two, please.”

She tucked a white-blonde curl behind her ear and flipped a few pages of the book. “Do you have a reservation?”

“No, sorry, ma’am. We sure don’t.” Daddy smiled and looked around. “But look like you got plenty a empty tables.”

Her eyes shifted and she flipped pages back and forth. “Then, I’m afraid we can’t accommodate you.”

“But . . . you got empty tables,” Daddy said, still polite.

She rolled her eyes. “Would you excuse me for a moment?”

“Yes ma’am.”

The hostess picked up the reservation book and walked toward the kitchen, fast as her skinny high heels would carry her. She pushed through the double-swinging doors like a wide receiver headed to the goal post. The patrons’ stares followed until she disappeared, then darted back to Daddy and Terrence. The whispering got louder than the sound of silverware clanking against dishes.

Something inside Terrence rumbled, and it wasn’t his stomach anymore. He wanted to yell at the unwanted audience, maybe even turn over a table or two, especially where those puckered-up old biddies with their flowered hats and uppity stares sat.

What the fuck are you looking at?

He needed to get in their faces and change their snooty expressions, get them to show a little respect. Even if it was only ‘cause they were afraid.

How the hell could Daddy just stand there, looking so calm? Terrence was boiling inside. But somehow he knew he best settle down.

“What’s going on, Daddy?”

“Just be patient, son.”

Finally, a tall, thin man in a black suit walked up to them. “Is there a problem?”

“No sir, we just want a table for two.”

The man huffed. “Follow me.”

Daddy winked. “Let’s have us a steak, son.”

They followed the man through the restaurant. As they walked by each table, backs stiffened and gazes turned away. Yeah they were staring all right, even though they tried to look like they weren’t.

They passed the biddy with daisies on her hat. Terrence fought the urge to get in her face, though he couldn’t resist having a little fun. “Fine piece of meat you got there, ma’am,” he said, winking.

He didn’t think a white person could get whiter, but she sure did.

_________________________________________

Have you ever experienced or seen prejudice? How did you handle it?

 

This entry was posted in Excerpt, Prejudice, The Red Kimono, Video and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Are You Kidding Me: 7/30/12

  1. Everydayclimb says:

    Amen

  2. Linda Apple says:

    As a frequent visitor to the state, it doesn’t surprise me at all. There are still pockets of prejudice not unlike all the churches there in the 50’s and 60’s and earlier.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Linda, I saw signs of that when I visited Alabama almost two decades ago. I guess I’d hoped all of that had gone away by now. Charles Wilson’s quote really made me think: “If it was such a minority of people, why didn’t the majority stand up and say, ‘in God’s house we don’t do this?”

  3. lindarigsbee says:

    I very much dislike it when people put today’s obscene language into yesteryear. I was in Alma, Arkansas when they intigrated the schools. I was 14 or 15 and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about, but neighbors came to our door trying to get my parents to sign a petition so it wouldn’t happen in THEIR school. My mom, who they labled “Yankee” because she was from Minnesota, told me that the difference between the north and the south on racial issues was that in the North, they didn’t mind if you sat on the stool beside them, but they didn’t want them touching their food. I can remember bathrooms and water fountains that said “white’s only.” Prejudice still goes on in many forms, and it probably always will.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Linda, you bring up an excellent point about using today’s profanity in yesterday’s dialogue. It bothers me when I see its overuse in dialogue in television shows and movies. I probably only used the “f” word twice in the approximate 420 pages of the book, and considered leaving it out in this excerpt. I used such words in scenes where I was trying to emphasize a strong emotion, whether pain, anger or frustration. You’re right about it possibly not being used in the 40’s. Thank you also for sharing the story from your past. Sad to think prejudice will probably always exist. It certainly will if more of us don’t stand up against it.

  4. Jan Morrill says:

    Whew. Thank you, Linda Apple. I know you probably researched that for your novel, so that helps a lot!

  5. My Dad was prejudiced and freely used all the bad words to refer to other races, yet the oddest thing to me was that he never mistreated men of any race who worked for him. He would say he expected them to know their place. This was a cultural thing, like so many other things, and luckily I looked around at the world as I grew up and saw that this wasn’t right. Even stranger was that my dad was part Cherokee, and I’m sure his parents, both of mixed blood, experienced their share of prejudicial treatment for many years. Thanks for a really good post, Jan.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      It’s amazing to me that children can see that something is wrong, even at an early age. I’m grateful kids like you had the the conscience and strength to do what was right. Thanks for commenting, Velda.

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