Sunday, February 6, 2011

History is History

Yesterday I had to go to the Post Office to mail my scissors to Gingher to get sharpened, but C is still suffering from a bad case of the flu, so I went out alone. "Be careful out there!" he said. The post office is only about 2 miles from my house, but it's in a strange neighborhood which requires a lot of defensive driving. It's more like an obstacle course. While I was driving there I encountered a car being pushed by five Mexican guys, a pack of teenage guys walking their bikes and taking up the whole left lane of the road, and a car that was parked in the road while two people were casually putting suitcases in the trunk.

There was a Dollar Tree right next to the Post Office, so I decided to go in and get C some Cheetos. When I have a cold I crave salt and vinegar potato chips. He craves Cheetos, and I thought it would cheer him up to indulge. So I grabbed the Cheetos and got in line. Now, I don't really think about it because it doesn't really matter to me, but it's true that I was the only white person in the busy dollar store. Come to think of it, besides the Mexican guys, every person I'd seen so far while running my errands had been a black person.

Anyway, as I was standing there in line at the dollar store, this big lady walked into the store and started saying hello to people. Eventually, she made her way past me and then stopped at the woman in line behind me, and this is how their conversation went:

Big Lady: Excuse me, I'd like to invite you to my Black History Month party.

Lady in Line: Okay, is it at a church?

Big Lady: No, it's at the library. Why, wouldn't you go if it was at a church? That's sad.

Lady in Line: Not for some people.

Big Lady: (clutching the Lady In Line's shoulder, and oozing false sweetness) Don't worry, I won't put you in any categories.

Then the big lady walked away, and the woman in line behind me asked me, "Did she invite you?" I told her no, she hadn't, maybe because I'm not black. The woman shook her head and said, "That ain't right."

Then it was my turn to check out, and I left the dollar store, but kept thinking about those ladies and Black History Month and how history is history, no matter who it happened to. We are all Americans, black or white, and we share a past just as we share a future.

1 comment:

Donnie Barnes said...

Wow. Interesting story. Wonder how different that would have gone had you still been in Harlem?