Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 105 - A Slice of Pie

When I had first moved to Jacksonville Florida I had no idea that the city had an immortal mentality.  And what I mean by that is people who were born in Jacksonville, both black and white had the same mentality as other Southerners.  We have been doing it this way for years so we don't need to change it.  We like it the way we like it.  Being a Yankee that a southerner is quick to fish out by the rate of speech patterns or pronunciation of our words, I was reminded daily that I was not welcome.  The Mason Dixon Line was up north and I should "retun to the nuthin paart from which I had been burn."

It was particularly frustrating for me as I not only was a Yankee, born in Pennsylvania and reared there but had moved to Jacksonville from the capitol of Diversity USA, San Francisco.  When I left my job in San Fran, the co-workers chided me about the abbreviation of CALIF (which was replaced eventually by CA when they implemented the two letter abbreviations for the Postal System.) CALIF, I was told stood for Come and Live in Florida as many people retired in Florida after working their entire lives in California.  Once I arrived in Northern Florida I realized there was no way this was possible as the people here were really the same as Southern Georgia and there was NO WAY that a Californian would fit in.  People from CA were much more cultured and open-minded.

The biggest part of frustration for me is not with the white folks but with the black folks.  In our High School Association of basketball referees, when I started about 65% of the referees were black men.  I'd say that the percentage now is closer to 80%.  Since I came from CA, was a volunteer diversity trainer and had raised two young men of color I quickly fit in and was all too well familiar with racism and its hardships that it presents.  But I quickly realized it was the black men who had the power as they were the majority in this association.  I heard the white men on the Board of Directors, particularly the ones with the most power to dole out money by the assignment of games, use the "N word" when they thought no blacks were in their company.  Like Stetson Kennedy, I was the one in the white skin who they thought, due to my white skin that I was one of them. This allowed them to expose who they really were. Get comfortable.  Let their guard down.

I began to educate the black men on what I had heard and distinguish who could be trusted and who couldn't of the 35% of white referees.  At the time I thought this was providing an invaluable service to the black men who would NEVER hear this with their own ears.  I suggested ideas for implementation on how we could better serve ourselves as officials in particular in the way of training.  I was taught if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem.  I knew complaining about it was part of the problem so doing the right thing I decided to be part of the solution. I would run for Vice-President. Put myself in a position to better the organization and help everybody equally. The Board position of Vice-President at the time was responsible for training.  I ran for the Vice-President position two years in a row and lost each time.  I was frustrated with the majority of voters who didn't vote for me not because I lost but because the majority of the votes by the black majority went to the same white males who called them Niggers in the first place

As a college official who at this point spent over $9000 in education over the summer in camp fees, I felt I could begin to train newer officials and the organization could quickly expand with open minds.  I recruited six officials in one year alone.  I tried to position myself to be a part of the Board in which I could provide the most solutions.  Training. It was echoed not once but twice by the majority that they didn't want me in that role.  I'm sure the Matriarch had a big part in this but the fact remains that each person has a vote.  The right thing to do is to vote from the perspective of hope and not vote from the perspective of fear.  I was told by my friends after each vote on my way home that the majority would rather have the Devil that they knew than the one that they didn't. They were afraid of the college training because they didn't know what that was.  I'm not sure exactly what that meant but I know for sure that I was no Devil and it was clear that I was able to provide invaluable training that high school officials rarely can see without the help from college training.  All the other associations in Florida hold their college officials in high esteem. They welcome the experience from their college officials.  But not in Jacksonville, it hasn't been done that way here before.

Separate is not Equal!
It was in Jacksonville, Florida the Jim Crow Laws became law in 1906.  Colored folks couldn't drink, go to the bathroom, sit on the same bus or eat in the same place as white folks. A century later, the black folks still are thinking the way the white folks of that era wanted them to think.  "Let's give them that little slice of apple pie and let them fight over the crumbs."  All the while the white folks sit back and watch with amusement as the black folks will fight and claw and sometimes kill the messenger to get that little sliver taste of pie.  The white folks are enjoying the rest of  the apple pie with their friends and families as they watch this happening. The black folks probably know this in their hearts, but what this white folk was trying to tell those black folks was that they not only have the rest of that apple pie, they've got more pies, Many more pies; Strawberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Key Lime, Rhubarb, Peanut Butter, Coconut Cream, Lemon Meringue, Pecan, etc.  The longer the majority (in this case Southern white folks) can distract the minority with the belief in their struggle to get the one slice of pie, they hope that the minority will never see the truth. There is a lot more pie where that little sliver of a piece came from and everyone is entitled to it. If they know about it.  They just have to know about it.  If only they had listened.

Having climbed certain peaks you'll descend no more, but spread your wings and fly beyond ~Richard Bach

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