I remember these scenes vividly.
Sometime in the mid-1950′s, when I was about ten years old, I was in the family car with my foster father on some errand. My foster father was an Italian-American Lutheran truck driver who married into an Irish-German family. We had to stop on Perrysville Avenue (this was in Pittsburgh), right in front of Perrysville High School (as it was known then). A black cop was directing traffic at the five-way intersection, which had no traffic light. My foster father remarked angrily, “Damned niggers are taking over everything!”
Now, I had never seen a black man before, and did not understand my foster father’s anger. But the seething malice was evident in the way he uttered the words. I gave him what I guess he perceived to be a “dirty look,” but which was simply my astonished but mute inquiry.
When we got home, he beat me with the strap of his belt. I guess he saw reproach in my glance.
In another episode of “misunderstanding,” the family had company over. We were in the living room and there was a lively conversation on politics, in which I did not participate. I don’t recall exactly what the subject was, and I think I was in my pre-teens. But either my foster father or foster mother asked me: “What color are we, Eddie?”
I answered: “Beige.” Well, I was the only member of the family who read books. My foster parents had conniption fits every time I consulted the pristine set of the Encyclopedia Americana they had bought for show and shelved in a glass-door cabinet. I had encountered the term somewhere, and it seemed more appropriate and truer than was “orange” or “white.” The term was in my vocabulary, not my family’s.
So, “beige” was not the answer any of the adults expected to hear. I think they all sat stunned, and my foster parents looked embarrassed.
When the company left, I again heard the swoop and felt the sting of my foster father’s belt.
Yes, racism existed in America then, and it still exists, and will continue to exist for as long as men think of others in collectivist terms. Observe the racism and destructive furor evident in Ferguson, Missouri, over the shooting of a black man by a white police officer. Except that it is basically “black” racism. A man who has just robbed a convenience store, assaulted a police officer, and charged that officer with every intention of causing him more harm, was shot and killed by the officer. But the facts and circumstances are irrelevant. The black “youth” is being touted as a “victim” of white racism.
No one asks: What was the cop, Darren Wilson, who was injured, supposed to do when the “youth” sauntered away? Ignore the assault, call in sick and drive to the nearest hospital to have his injured eye attended to? If he is a law enforcement officer, and suspected Brown of just robbing a convenience store, he was obliged to act, and not let Brown walk off to boast to his buddies, “Hey! I just socked a honky cop and he ain’t done nothin’ about it!”
In today’s politically correct, thought-repressing climate, imagine what would be said, shouted from the rooftops, and headlined were the Darren Wilson/Michael Brown roles reversed.
A white man, of the same weight, height, and nasty disposition as Brown’s, barely literate, as well, except in the “rap” vernacular, and known to most locals as a brutish thug, robs and manhandles a convenience store clerk, then walks out with merchandise he did not pay for. A black policeman stops him on the street, asking him to walk on a sidewalk. The white man assaults the officer, tries to take his gun, causing it to fire once. He pummels the officer, then walks off. The officer gets out of the patrol car and tells him to stop. After all, the “white” Brown has already committed a felony assault on the officer, in addition to being a suspect in a store robbery that has just come over the patrol car radio.
The white man turns and charges the officer, maybe uttering a “rebel yell,” intending to inflict further bodily harm the officer. The officer shoots, several times. The brute is hard to stop.
The verbally abusive redneck yahoo is killed.
Would the black officer be accused of racism? No. it would be the white man. “See,” the chorus of the MSM and race-card players and liberals would cry, “that just proves that whites don’t respect blacks, even when blacks are part of the establishment. Let’s hang that white trash!”
Michael Brown has not been portrayed as a thug, but as an “innocent” youngster who meant no harm. All he was doing was walking in the middle of a busy street. And also, well…getting away with robbery in spite of his video-taped assault on the store clerk.