Black and Invisible or All You People Look Alike

   Written by on April 24, 2015 at 1:25 pm

The only way America will ever solve the lingering race issues is to have open interracial conversations on the subject. If we can’t or don’t discuss it, we can’t resolve or understand.

logo- government grumblingsOne example of this is the Confederate Flag. To me the flag was nothing more than a part of my history. No racism involved. Then a friend of ours was telling me that his car broke down in a rural area right in front of a house with a Confederate flag waving in the breeze.  He said, “I knew it (the flag) was probably one of those heritage not hate situations BUT a smart black man isn’t going to find out.” He walked several miles to find a house he was comfortable approaching.

Without that conversation I would have continued believing flying the Confederate flag did no harm.  While I still believe there are places and times when flying that flag celebrates history I would never want anyone to be in a situation where they would have reservations about approaching me or my home when they need help.

Many years ago I was told by a Chinese person that “all you Americans look alike.” At the time I thought he was joking. As I have grown and learned more I have realized he wasn’t joking.

A few years ago my daughter knitted me a gray wool stocking hat. The next day as I was wearing it several people who I see daily ignored me. In fact, as I was drinking coffee in the same restaurant where I drink coffee every day, while sitting in the same seat I sit in every day, several other regulars walked by me without looking. Now keep in mind I see these people every day and speak to them every day.

When I spoke to them they all said, “I saw the back of your head and thought there was an old black man sitting in your seat.” None of them were ignoring me because they thought I was black, they were ignoring me because they thought they didn’t know me.

It was the same thing as walking down a city street. No one makes eye contact with people they don’t know.

A guy I know in Norfolk says, “All convenience store clerks look alike.”

After discussing this phenomenon with several people we came to the conclusion that regardless of the ethnic background, until you have friends from that background (any ethnic background) “they all look alike.”

This partially explains the many times an innocent person has been picked out of a police lineup. They all look alike if they don’t look like you.

This weekend some friends of ours in a supermarket were ignored by a white couple who attend the same church as they do. They said that now that they know about “black and invisible” they weren’t offended or at least weren’t as offended.

Fortunately, at least in Southside Virginia, my children’s generation doesn’t seem to be as afflicted by this. Maybe in the future no one will be invisible.

Leave a Reply