I was playing golf with some friends last weekend. The friend who was sharing my golf cart has, in the past, flaunted the fact that he was packin' - that is he had a pistol holstered and zipped up in his golf bag.
I've given him hell over this, asking him: "Just what do you think you're going to do with a gun on the golf course?" His point is that he feels a need to be prepared at all times in case someone armed with anything more dangerous than a golf club starts something up with him. To this, I have felt somewhat unsettled ever since I learned of his being so armed.
So last weekend we came to the part of the golf course where a nearby gas station comes into view from the fairway. My Second A-friend-ment shared with me that before coming to the course that day, he stopped at that particular station to fill up. He said, "This was one time I wished I hadn't accidentally left my gun at home."
As his words sank in, I realized that he was saying that he had felt threatened when he went into the station to pay for the gas. That's right; you guessed it: this is in a predominantly African American section of town and the only people in the station didn't look at all similar to his Whiteness.
So many things are wrong with this picture: Was the station being robbed while he was there and he couldn't foil the robbery (or stand his ground) because he forgot to arm himself that particular day? If so, there was no discussion of what would have surely been the talk of the golf round. Was it because one of the men at the station made some kind of trouble for him - targeted him for his race - told him to get lost? No, I don't think anything like that happened either.
I think he found himself being a patron of a business in a neighborhood where he was a minority and for that reason alone he felt "threatened". He didn't have to give me any further details about his visit to that gas station for me to conclude all this. He was telling me that he needs to have a gun on him in order to feel comfortable with black people.
Similarly, there is a kind of person that I don't feel comfortable with - the kind of person that I find "threatening". This is the kind of person who thinks he needs to carry deadly force with him everywhere, just in case he might need to use it. I'm not comfortable riding in golf carts with his kind. And I am not comfortable inviting his kind to play golf with me any longer.