Today, I was at the World Cup viewing party that took place at Campus Martius. And to my surprise I was slapped with a stereotype that no matter how hard I try, or how far my career takes me, I feel that I will never be able to escape.
Let me give you a little back story of why I decided to spend the hour or so at the viewing party. I heared that there is a World Cup viewing party at Campus Martius, and I tell my friend, ”this will be the perfect place for me to experience the Downtown Detroit energy.” I decided to ride my bike to the festivities and park it at the Chase building, which is located across the street from Campus Martius.
After an eventful first half, in which I seen some of Tim Howard’s most eventful saves, I decided that I could not deal with the up and down emotions in public. So, I decided to watch the second half from the comforts of my own home. As I was unlocking my bike from the bike rack located outside of the Chase building, I noticed a guy running full speed right at me. When he finally approached me, still trying to catch his breath he uttered, “Is that your bike?” I did not feel that the question deserved a response, but seeing that there were also two other people taking bikes off the bike racks I replied to the silly question “Yes, it is!” I was hoping that me answering the question in a timely manner would allow him to ask the other two individuals that were also at the bike rack that very same question before they were able to ride away. Needless to say that never happened!
Once I answered the question of “Is that your bike?” he sent a rebuttal my way asking, “Are you sure?” At that point I had enough of his line of questioning, so I decided to just ride away. But before I could paddle twice I notice two Quicken Loans security guards approaching me at full speed. “Sir, get off the bike” said the first security guard to reach me. As I took one foot off the bike I replied, “This is my bike and I will not be getting off.” Now surrounded by three security guards focused on proving that this is not my bike, I decide to use my college education and turn this into an argument. Not an argument that they would normally expect from a common bike thief, but an argument as a coherent series of statements leading from a premise to a conclusion.
Premise one: The lock is still on the bike and shows no signs of being tampered with.
Premise two: I still have a key in my hand that unlocks the lock that is currently on this bike.
Conclusion: This must be my bike lock on this bike.
“If that conclusion is true then it is not farfetched to believe that this is my bike!”
To my surprise the first response that came from one of the Quicken Loans’ security guards was, “Where is the other bike lock?” Now I realize that I have to respond in a way that will make me the angry black guy, which will probably cause cameras to get pulled out, and I might just make it on the internet. Then something that my Grandma Louise always told me came to the front of my mind. She would always say, “Don’t get caught arguing with a foolish person, because people from a distance can’t tell which one of you is the fool.” And that is what I felt I was faced with, three fools trying to lure me into their foolishness. Instead I constructed a logical response in my head, but before I could speak it the initial security guard stated that the lock on the bike was the only lock that I had.
Once again the three of them look at each other and in an upbeat tone one of them said, “Ay, that’s a nice bike.” Now everything is supposed to be upbeat and forgotten. I can’t take back the last 5 minutes of my life that I had to deal with this tomfoolery, and at this point I just want to exit this circle that they have formed around me as quickly as possible. Then the security guard that looked like me spoke. Possibly seeing the look on my face, and trying to defuse the thinking that was going on within my head, he stated, “Don’t take it personal.” To which I asked him to repeat himself. I heard what he said very clearly, but I was thrown back by the first words out of his mouth to me being not to take it personal. He responded to my request, “Don’t take it personal…people have been stealing bikes around here.” As bad as I wanted to leave the circle, I felt that I had to stay and let him know why I do take it personal.
I said, “There were two other people at that bike rack. I have no idea who they are but I can tell you that I was the only non-white person there. This guy runs full speed at me and asks me about my bike.” At that point the initial security guard leaves the scene. And I continued, “There might have very well been a bike stolen within the last 5 to 7 minutes but you will not catch them because you did not bother to focus on anyone but me…How is it that I get the attention of three of you and neither of you even asked the other two guys if the bike that they had were theirs? So do not tell me not to take it personal because it is…It is personal because of how I personally look, and the prejudices that exist in your heads of a person that looks like me. You made it personal and you have to live with that.”
As I began to ride away I realized that they were still trying to gather a response, so I stayed to listen. Honestly, I was waiting for an apology, but what I received was a lot better. One of them said, “that’s a nice lock. Is that the bulletproof one? Where did you get that from?” I told him where I got it from as I rode away. That was the best response that he come up with, even after I just informed him of a group mistake that he was involved in. It reaffirmed to me that an ignorant person that does not want to know can no longer be considered ignorant. At that point the ignorant person is just foolish. And I was right not to get into a verbal sparring match with this foolish person.
Racism as defined by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary “discrimination against a person or persons based on their race.” It’s still alive they’re just concealing it. And the racist are not even doing a good job at concealing it anymore. Gandhi once said “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” They are making it hard for the non-racist people in this world to come together. As for me, I’m not ignorant to the fact that not all people of a certain race are racist. And I pray that any person out there that has experienced similar treatment does not lose their faith. We are all in this battle together, and if you need someone to assist you along this journey you do not have to look any further.