This week’s installment of Hey Ron! touches on a rather prickly topic: racism. We’ll keep it short and just say that Ron recalls a youthful misadventure that involved a fair bit of “knucklin’ up” to teach us all a lesson about tolerance.
I noticed that some assholes leave pseudo-racist comments in response to your very rational advice. It got me thinking about how a distinguished gentleman such as yourself might handle a similar situation in real life. It's had to have happened—you even said in your blog last week that your problem was that you were "born black." What do you do when you come across such a hater?
I ran up against racism a lot, and there are times when you have to knuckle up and there are times when you have to put on your fastest pair of sneakers because you’re outnumbered. I’m no fool—I’ll live to fight another day. Now, that said, I did have a few incidents that happened in my youth. I'll tell you about one.
My brother used to go to Pleasantville High School and anyone who knows Pleasantville knows that it’s a 99-to-1 ratio and the 1 in that ratio is black. One day we were playing ball up there with a buddy and on our way back to the city we decided to stop at a Friendly’s. It was snowing on the walk back and some white kids drove by in a pickup and threw snowballs with rocks in them at us while shouting the N-word out the window. When it happened I remember we looked at each other like, “Are we still living in this time? Like, honestly, is this for real?”
When we got to Friendly’s we had some food and then realized that the same kids who threw the rocks at us had been in there the whole time. We looked out the window and saw two of them getting back into their truck while the other guy was paying at the front. For some reason rednecks love pickup trucks—I don’t know why, but they do. I said to my brother, “Hey those are those dudes who were calling us names and throwing rocks at us. Let's go see what they’re all about.”
So I walked up to the guy paying and I was like, “Excuse me, do you know me?” and he said, “No.” Then I said, “Then why are you calling me the N-word?” He was like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” So I said, “Is that your pickup?” He just pointed at his friend and said, “No, it belongs to him.” And I said, “Were you in that pickup when the rocks and snowballs were being thrown?” He just said, “It wasn’t me.” I just pointed to my brother and replied, “OK, then it won’t be me who hits you. It’ll be him.” Then I started over to the guys in the truck.
I’m not the talking type, so I just walked over to them and started wailing. Needless to say, there were three hurtin’ guys that day. And my friend was standing there shocked because he wasn’t expecting my brother and I to go off like that. Oh, I almost forgot: He was a white guy. Looking back, I didn’t even think of him as being “white” at the time because he was my friend. The best part was that his father was the sheriff. The cops came and the racist dudes were trying to press charges, but when our friend the sheriff’s son told them what happened the rednecks got arrested and they drove us to the train station.
Now that I’m older, I realize that you can’t argue with racists. That’s what they are and there’s no way around it, so it’s just best to avoid them. I eventually realized that they were more afraid of me than I was of them. I think racists are finally starting to realize that we’ve gotten back what they’ve taken away from us, and then some. Granted we never got our 40 acres and a mule, but we’ve overcome what’s held us down. But I want to make it clear that I’m not blaming anyone or any race for what has happened in my life or my shortcomings. I just think everyone should try to make the best of what they got.