by L. Stewart Marsden
I am an older white male (mid-sixties) who lives in the foothills of North Carolina, the United States.
I am a college graduate.
I am a writer. Poetry, short stories, plays, and a would-be novelist.
I play the guitar and harmonica.
I am an amateur actor — a thespian.
I like to think I can sing.
I like to draw cartoons and silly things.
I have a sense of humor — and am an advocate of puns.
I have five children and three grandchildren.
I am, ostensibly, retired (depending on whom you ask).
I live in an apartment complex.
I drive a Honda hybrid.
I have a drop-kick dog.
I’m a Duke basketball fan.
I’m overweight, and have launched a walking program to get rid of my barrel belly.
I’m balding, and sport a scraggly white beard.
I’m law-abiding, have served on a jury, and hate taxes.
I believe I am responsible for my own actions, and the consequences of those actions.
I believe in God, but am not a churchgoer.
I am heterosexual.
I am single.
If you are a non white, is there anything above that you can relate to? Is there anything that would deter you from at least considering a friendship with me?
I’ve just started a friendship via Facebook and email and WordPress with an African resident of Togo.
David lives in the capital city of Lomé, where he is pursuing writing, acting and comedy. He speaks French. That’s about all I know of him at this juncture.
He was the 800th visitor to my writing website, and I decided to send him a copy of Through the Glass Darkly.
I am looking with great anticipation learning more about David’s life, and sharing mine with him.
David, by the way, is black.
So why, I asked myself today, is it that I can make friends with a black man halfway across the world, and yet have virtually no black friends here in the neighborhood, city or state where I live?
Yes, I’m reclusive.
Yes, there are stereotypes of various ethnicities and cultures that I wrestle with.
If you are a non white, help me dialogue about just what it is I’m missing. I honestly don’t want to go down the last quarter or less of my life without closing what I think is a serious gap in my life.
When I lived in New York City years ago, I became a professional Scouter for the Greater New York Boy Scout Council.
In that capacity, my closest peer friends were from Puerto Rico and the Philippines. My area coordinator was black, and my council chief executive was black.
The latter two were distanced from me due, I think, to rank. Still . . .
The guy from Puerto Rico and I got along famously. He was always asking me to say something in Southern (I’m from North Carolina), and he would belly-laugh at my witticisms. Juan, from the Philippines, was a bit more reserved, but still approachable.
Of course, NYC is more metropolitan — more of a jumble of races and culture (the old metaphor was ‘fruit salad’).
It seems to me that the distance between races — in spite of all the laws and legislation that the government has enacted — has not decreased, but increased.
And I think sadly on King’s “I have a dream” speech, and wonder have I stepped on its potential to become reality through my own life?
In a course I took to become certified as a lateral entry teacher, one course instructor flatly said that all whites are prejudiced and bigoted.
I can’t argue with her, as I would invariably fall into those positions by virtue of disagreeing with her.
Whites wonder will they ever be released from the curse of being descendants of the South, where slavery and Jim Crow and segregation have occupied most of the history of southern blacks?
We wonder at the anger we sense from our black neighbors. The distrust. Perhaps it’s merely guilt on our part, and the anger isn’t there at all. I don’t think so.
But, you tell me.
The roots of racism and bigotry are long and deep. Are they too deeply rooted to ever rot and disintegrate?
Please, tell me what you think?
My dad thought that this separation would exist until the whole of mankind is one indiscernible color and race. A uni-race.
You have to then think that any difference is bad, and uni-this and uni-that — gender and sexuality and political affiliations — are the ultimate dystopic answer to all difference dilemmas.
But, please tell me.
Why is it I can establish contact more easily with a black man from Togo than I can a black man from across the street?