I met one such man over 20 years ago.
During my single years and in the early stages of dating a woman, I had little interest in meeting her parents; preferring to get to know her without the impact (good or bad) of meeting family members. When I agreed to meet the father of a lovely young lady I had been dating for only two weeks, something in the back of my mind quickly told me it was a bad idea. I brushed the thought away.
She was excited yet had no idea what was to come. I walked in the door and there was a calm and slightly eerie silence when her dad saw me. He obviously had no idea that I was black as his face spoke volumes. He made some small talk and did shake my hand but it was clear that I wouldn’t be in the house for long. He wasn’t mean or disrespectful, so being the optimist, I thought maybe he was just shy or reserved.
Things were never the same with us after that inauspicious introduction.
We met at a park several days later and she explained that she couldn’t date me anymore. After some prying on my part, she came clean with the truth and told me that her dad threatened to disown her if she continued to see me. I wasn’t surprised by her dad's feelings although the “disown” part was shocking. The sad look in her eyes left no doubt about her dad’s sincerity. She lost a bit of her soul that day.
I felt bad for her as it was clear that she had no idea her dad was a racist. I told her that it was okay and she was in a no-win situation. She was on the verge of tears. We hugged and I knew that I would never see her again.
Her father lived in a nice neighborhood and was upper middle class. I can only imagine the negative influence his feelings had in other areas of his life. It was the first time racism was thrown so loudly and boldly in my face.
In addition, it was one of the few times in my life where my feelings and those of the woman I was dating, were sincere, passionate and mutual; particular considering it was only a few weeks. What a disappointment for both of us to have that taken away so harshly.
As a mentor said, to me recently, “There are millions of people around the world who think just like Sterling, whether it is based on color, culture, race, religion or beliefs.”
Sadly, he’s right.
On the bright side, there are millions more who are kind, decent, loving and open-minded people. I prefer to think of them.
Happy Gswede Sunday!
|Only Love Can Conquer Hate|