Sunday, August 10, 2008

JOURNAL EXCERPT: May 20, Sat. 1978 6:45 PM

"I have been busy, but not constructively. G. and I have been doing things together. Swimming, tennis, basketball, watching TV. I spent the night at his house last night because my sister with the mouth was having a slumber party. Twelve eighth grade girls in one place tends to erupts into blatant chaos; so I left.

"There is a Black preacher up at work who says, 'Mornin' gentleman,' every night I see him. He does dealer route 3. A dealer route is the delivery of papers to stores and various racks located throughout a certain section of the city. A couple of Sundays ago we had a very late Sunday run. He didn't leave with his papers till somewhere around 7:00 am. I was wondering if he was going to be able to deliver the papers in time to preach. Everyone was joking about it. W. said, 'He's gonna preach while he's delivering papers. I say brothers and sisters! Just a minute, let me get rid of these papers.'

"This preacher drives a big Continental or something like that. A large, expensive looking red car, and puts the bundles of papers inside it. I wouldn't ruin a car like that that way."

MANHOOD REDO: Lubbock's very segregated; it's easy to stay in your white enclave if you want to. Working the graveyard shift at the newspaper dock, I probably came into contact with more African Americans than the majority of white people in the city. Looking back it seems to me that white youth in Lubbock tended to treat older Black men who didn't have white collar jobs as objects of ridicule. Ican't help but think that's going on in the scenario above. Looking back, I wonder why the preacher needed the route; what did we take for granted about his circumstances? I would guess that D. D., a friend in graduate school who is white but attended an African American church in Lubbock while he was growing up, would not have seen him nor treated him in the same way we did.

Switching to another scene but a related story: I was eating my sack lunch in the Christ the King High School cafeteria, and the guys at the table with me were talking to the Black janitor, telling him that there was a plastic bubble with a hole in it that circled around the earth. I assume that NASA was going to launch a rocket that week, because they said the hole had to be lined up exactly above the launch pad before they could ignite the rocket's engines. He listened politely to their explanation. And of course when he left, they laughed at him.

In both scenarios, I would argue we were imposing a Black masculinity on the preacher and the janitor that was tied to slavery, Sambo, and the minstrel show. We treated them as jokes, not people.

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