On the way home, I noticed something I have seen more of within the last 10 years than ever before — a white man or woman standing in the street with a sign, needing money. This time it was a man.
Now, being the person that I am and wearing the lenses I do, there are all sorts of words which immediately come to mind.
Of course, all the usual words that connote the economic situation of the person: panhandler, beggar, drug addict, poor, poverty stricken, etc., could enter my mind, and indeed, all of these words engage in the same communion with bias and prejudice on that economic basis.
To prejudge, however, is an even deeper problem for me as a Black person to shrug off and dismiss, especially when the economic position of the white person never enters the lexicon living inside my thought bubble.
No, my prejudice forces me to ask, in literally seconds before the light changes, “how many Black people did you call a ni@@er, today, last week, last year, in your life?”
“How many times did you think a Black person was less than you, and on what possible basis?”
“If you knew you weren’t qualified, but you washed, shaved, put on a suit and walked into an interview for the same job with me, who do you think would deserve to be offered the job?”
“If this situation was reversed, would you help me without prejudging me?”
At the end of the day, Blacks know the truth. We know the struggle. We know it is largely economic for both white and Black. We know that the lie is what separates whites and disables them utterly. We would gladly join the real economic struggle if white people would lose the lie that keeps them from their own humanity.
That was when economic plight entered the bubble and blew it up.
I gave him $5.00 and drove off in my shiny red convertible Lexus, recalling the days of Governor Thornberg in Pennsylvania, when my neighbors and I from our apartment building put our rice, eggs and cheese together to feed our children breakfast when we had no money.
Prejudice. Do I prejudge? Yes. I. Do. But I get past it because humanity demands it. Because we are all better people for it.
One day the lie of superiority will be broken once and for all, but until then, I will probably continue to ask myself if that white person appreciates that $5.00 or thinks he’s entitled and but for me, he’d have it.
The Doctor is in.