Just now, I was walking home from the station when I spotted a black guy about a block away coming my way. I didn’t recognize him. I’ve run into all of the blacks in my vicinity at least once. New Blood, I figured.
For the past couple of years I’ve shunned other black people…unless they were Africans, and most Africans wouldn’t let you shun them anyway. They’d holler, “Hey, my Bruddah!” from across streets some times. It’s just beyond rude to them, I guess, to let another brother pass by without even greeting them.
But, African-Americans…as I’ve mentioned during my racism series, we don’t get down like that usually.
However, I’ve been trying to turn a new leaf, and as difficult as it is, I’ve begun making an effort to avail myself of my brethren simply because I can’t think of a good reason why I shouldn’t show love…or at least an openness to it. I mean, if the other person does one of a hundred things I’ve been known to do once I spot another black person, like suddenly check my cellphone or find something in another direction suddenly particularly diverting, I’ll understand. I’ve been there.
I spotted him first, I think. And watched as he approached walking on the other side of the narrow street. A Japanese couple came upon him and in typical Japanese fashion made an excessive five-foot detour around him. I zoomed in on his reaction. A smile. And a nod. An expression on his face I read to mean, I understand your trepidation. I would take evasive action if I saw me too if I were Japanese. Have a lovely day!
Yep, either a new jack, an imbecile, or one of those people who go through life with an all-encompassing inner joy the likes of which Oprah would kowtow before.
In other words, Ghandi.
In yet other words, full of shit.
But, still I kept my attention in his direction, determined not to shun him despite his disposition.
Then, he noticed me. Our eyes met. And he suddenly looked up like a bird had called his name.
Surprising! I’d never seen a black guy pull that one before. Japanese have done it, of course, but never a brother.
He kept his nose up in the air til he was parallel with me. That’s when I realized what he must have been doing. He was giving me the high hat. This motherfucker high yellow nigga was giving me the motherfuckin’ High Hat!
Anyway, I lost it.
“YO!!!WHAT UP NIGGGA!!” I said, volume on 20, crossing the street with a shit-eating grin on my face and my arms spread wide. “NOW I KNOW YOU AINT JUST GONNA PASS A NIGGA BY!? ASIDE FROM THESE BITCHES, AS LITTLE LOVE AS WE GET UP IN THIS MOTHERFUCKER FROM THESE MOTHERFUCKERS, YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS!!! COME OFF THAT SHIT NIGGA AND GIVE A NIGGA SOME LOVE!!!”
He’d actually stopped and turned when I called out, but at my approach took a step away, in what looked like fear.
“Uhhh, eeto, he–he–hello,” he said, the words spurting out like they’d been pried loose from terror-locked jaws.
I’d only wanted to personify the worst case scenario in the mind of the kind of African American that would snub another that way. So, I’d done my best impersonation of the kinda guy I’d sooner search the ground for loose Yen or the skies for Hurley Birds than acknowledge. One of them loud talking, shit-eating grin all up in your face, using “nigga” and “bitches” in every other sentence kinda guys.
I didn’t think I’d scare him, though. There was nothing threatening in my behavior at all. WTF??
“Nice to meet you,” he said, and stuck out his hand for a shake. His hand was shaking.
“Nice to meet you???” I said. Then something clicked, and I felt bad as hell. Now that I had a good look at his eyes, I could see the slight slant. And I could hear the echo of his accent in my head. A Japanese accent.
“Damn, my bad, Yo, I was just fooling around…I didn’t mean to scare you,” I said. “Yeah, um, nice to meet you too…”
And I shook his hand.
“My name is Junichiro…call me Jun!” he said, and he could have been one of my students, who’d I taught that same exact phrase a few months ago.
“Jun! Cool name,” I said, giving this Haa-fu a closer look. Wow, how did I miss it? “My name is…
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