I’m not a racist, am I?
I grew up in the state of Oregon back in the 50. We lived about 10 miles, over the West Hills from Portland. There were not many black people in the town but there were some and I didn’t think anything about it. In Portland, on the East side of the Willamette River, there were lots of black families and again I didn’t think anything about it. I guess I just thought that is where they live and we live where we live.
One time my father took me to a baseball game in Portland. It was a good game and lots of fun to watch. Just in front of us were a couple of black men who were also enjoying the game. At one point there was a great play made by a black player. I jumped up and yelled, “Look at that (N-word) go”. As soon as that play was over one of the black gentlemen turned around and told me, “We are called colored people, and not the word you used.” My dad apologized to the man for me, and the black gentleman just said that it was okay and just a learning experience. The thing is that I didn’t know I had learned a bad word. I have never forgotten that “learning experience” and never will and I have never used that word again in conversation with anyone.
The point here is that the back gentleman was not angry. He didn’t stand up and make a big deal about it. I think he understood I was just a young kid that didn’t know any better. I doubt that if the same thing happened today, in our racial charge country, it would have had a different outcome and the “learning experience” would have been missed and left that young man traumatized. Since that time, of course, the term “colored people” has been replaced with Black or African Americans.
In 1959 I joined the US Navy and the submarine service. I went to the submarine school in New London, CT. We had a few black sailors in the class and again, they were classmates and nothing more. We were equals at least in my eyes. If they felt something else it did not show and I never saw a black shipmate ever discriminated against or acted in another way than a classmate.
After graduation, I was assigned a submarine homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. When I checked in I found maybe 5 to 10% black sailors. Interestingly enough national figures show that countrywide 10% were blacks and 85% white. Similar to what I felt like I was seeing. That was at a time when other races from other countries had not started to build.
During my time in the Navy, I never remember seeing stranged relations between white and black sailors. However, in 1972 while serving as a 1St Lt on a US Navy Salvage ship I heard the N-word yelled loud and strong. The yelling was coming from a black 1St Class Petty Officer to a group of young black sailors. One or two of the young black sailors had been acting up and breaking some rules. The black Perry Officer was reading them the riot act. Hey used the N-word at will. He told them they had a good deal on this ship and were respected for the work they did. It was true. After he finished it strongly word talk, we had no more problems with those your black sailors.
Now by the time I joined the Honolulu Police Department in 1990 the racial makeup of the US had changed. Whites had dropped to 75% and. Black remained at 13%. The rest was made up of Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians.
One of the latest statistics shows Blacks at 13.4% and whites at 61% of the population. As of this writing, statistics show that the prison population is 29% whites and 34% blacks. It should be noted here that the white population percentage has been climbing in the past few years.
So, we see that White outnumber Black by a margin of roughly 4.5 to 1 yet we hear a lot about Black are not evenly represented. So, if you went to work for a company that had 20 employees you should expect to see four blacks. To be evenly represented in all categories you should always see that same mix but you and I know that is never going to happen. In highly educated jobs the ratio would be much lower whereas in the military the ratio would be much higher. As for me, in all my life I never thought about the radio or even noticed and further, I didn’t care. I just thought that it is what it is.
Over the past year, we have heard a lot of female soccer players complaining about the pay ratio. They say they play the same game and the same amount of time yet the men make much more money. So, here is the problem. The amount of money players make is based a lot on the number of fans that attend the game and how much each fan pays to get it. If you want more money to play the game get more fans to come to the games or more TV revenue and sponsors. I’m sure it is more complicated than just that but the basic premise seems good.
Okay, now I am getting off course but in my mind, I have never been a racest. I have always liked black people from the time I was about four years old, a super we had in our building in New York during the war. I liked him a lot and he looked out for me. In all my 22 years in the military and my time in the Honolulu Police Department, I never worked with a black person I didn’t like. Of course, working in Hawaii made things a bit easier. Hawaii, as I am sure you know, is a melting pot of many races. I felt discriminated against there too for the first time in my life. I remember thinking, “Oh, that is what it feels like”. Now don’t get me wrong, during my life there were individual black people I didn’t like but I would have to say there was an even amount of white people I didn’t like. It seems to me that it is just human nature.
Now we are up to “modern” times. A pandemic, a change of the life we are used to. Everybody has a camera, in the form of a phone, in their hands nearly all the time. Even before the pandemic, we are seeing misconduct by police officers against black people. The black community complained bitterly. For the first time, we hear and see BLM (black lives matter for those of you that have been off the planet). You think, of course, they do, but wait, don’t all lives matter? Yes, sure they do but that 13.4% of the US population is making a lot of noise. It seems that the radio of bad things happening to that 13.4% is somewhere around 50% of what we are seeing and hearing about.
So now we are all wearing masks and are worried about where we go and who we are next to. We can’t go places we used to go or congregate we people we use to hang around with. Life has changed and we don’t like it and then there was George Floyd. We all see it right from the lens of one of those camera phones we were just talking about. We see a black man die with the knee of a police officer right on his neck and holding it there for over nine minutes and it kills him. We see a white police officer apparently kill a black man. I, as a retired police officer am horrified at what I am seeing. I tell you that if I had been there on that sidewalk with would have given that white police officer a body blow he would never forget. Would I have been arrested? I am sure I would have and should be. Would I have been roughed up? Ya, I am sure I would have been but maybe, just maybe I might have saved Mr. Floyd’s life. Not because he was black but because what was happening there was just flat wrong.
So, now we are off and running. Civil disobedience starts all over the country. BLM is taking to the street all over the country. Protests are organized and marching begins. This now becomes the perfect opportunity for Antifa and other anarchist groups to take the protests away from the blacks. Yes, in fact, some of the anarchist groups have blacks with them. It all goes crazy as police are overwhelmed trying to keep the peace as they are just plain outnumbered. Riots replace protesters. Looting and property damage become the norm every night in many cities.
It seems that the death of Mr. Floyd was a tipping point. Many blacks had enough and it was time to show the county what as been going on. Every night on TV we are seeing the looting and property damage that very well may have started with the Floyd incident. As for me, I understood their anguish and frustration. Of course, it was upsetting to see the protests that we totally out of control and the news focused on those people that were controlling the story. It was also planned to see that many of the people that were dressed in black were also white.
Somehow the defund police movements took over. It seems that many city leaders were just trying to make the protesters happy to stop the riots. It seems that it did help. Winter also helped and when the COVID vaccine came on the scene is changed the narrative. People became consumed trying to find a place to get a shot. After a month or two we began hearing that blacks were not properly represented, percentage-wise, to the number of whites that were getting shots. I don’t know for sure about that but my guess would be that shot centers were more likely to be near population centers of white people. As time went on and the vaccine became available that complaint went away.
So, how did I feel about that? I did not have a problem with it and knew that everybody would get their shot eventually. Yes, my hospital got a hold of me early on because at my age I was in the beginning groups. I did see black people in the building when I was getting my shot.
Well, there you go. Over my life, I have no real thoughts about how I feel about blacks. I feel the same about all people of any color. I have met some that I like and some that I didn’t. I think that is just human nature. So, to the reader, we back to where we started.
I’m not a racist, am I?