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