Yes, me, an African American womam cringed today when I encountered you. It brought me to tears in the restaurant today. I sincerely apologize for my racist thinking and my pre-judging you and fear. I realize I have some work to do and writing this diary is a start.
Updated: The meaning of the spiderweb tattoo -
Apparently if it is on the neck or the elbow it means the person was incarcerated. This is why I kept looking at the elbow after seeing the tattoo.
More below the fold.
Today, I ran several errands. I encountered many people of all walks of life. I was in predominately African American areas, mixed areas and predominantly white areas. But one encouter is going to give me a lot to think about tonight over my wine. It really is a continuation of fear I experience when I am in the suburbs by myself. However, today, my reaction was visceral. I was downright afraid.
What happenend? Well, I stopped into a local eatery in my predominantly black inner city neighborhood. As I was walking in, a young, white man and a young white woman walked into the eatery right in front of me. My neighborhood has largely been viewed as off-limits to whites due to high-crime and so I don't see many in this part of my neighborhood in local eateries. I was a little shocked and was doing all of the mental gymnastics.
Then I noticed that the young man had a lot of tattoos as I immediately walked in. I noticed first a spider-web behind his ear. Then I looked closer, looking for neo-Nazi tattoos. I noticed one near his elbow and kept looking to try and decipher what it was. All the time, I am looking around really getting my pressure up. I am thinking about how I will react if he pulls out a gun and starts shooting. Then I start thinking, maybe he is casing the place for another time.
I watched him closely. Then another white man entered the restaurant from an opposite door, in work clothes sporting tattoos as well. I think to myself, "Oh No!" These two are obviously colluding and have targeted a predominantly black area to carry out some racial war and I am stuck in the middle of it, so I think.
So I hesistantly place my order. I ordered a drank and obviously with everything on my mind, I forgot to to get my cup. The second white guy in line behind me, stops me and tells me I forgot my cup! He was so sincere and at that point, I moved away and went over to the soda machine and almost started crying. I realized that these two men were not neo-Nazis out to shoot-up the local eatery inhabited by blacks. I realized that I was wrong in the situation for pre-judging these two men. I was overcome with sadness as I realized that I have been viewed through a racist lens more times than I know, but yet, I committed the same offense to two of my fellow citizens, one willing to help me out!
It is sobering to realize that we all have our biases. White men with tattoos scare me even though I sport a few. I know my sensitivities are heightened due to the current climate but I feel horrible. I live in a diverse area. When I see the white Anarchists, I don't bat an eye. When I see the white middle-class folks in the area, I am not afraid. But a white person who "I think looks like a racist," sent me into near meltdown today.
All, I can say is - Young, Working Class White Men, I am sorry.
I am sure there are typos, if so, please forgive me. Writing this diary is therapy for me and an indication that I need to do some work.
Go in Peace, All!