Saturday, March 19, 2022

Post No. 201: Oh What a Difference Ethno – Cultural Experience Can Make

© 2022, the Institute for Applied Common Sense


When I am with some of my Japanese friends, I often mention that when I was a Hispanic kid growing up in North Carolina during the 50s / 60s, if I saw a Caucasian woman on the street, I immediately crossed to the other side. They often appear confused, not sure whether to laugh, cry, or even comment.  


As of 5:35 am Monday, March 21, I will have been back in Southern California 4 weeks.  Since my arrival (excluding time spent in the train station and walking through homeless camps on Los Angeles County Superior Court and United States District Court property, I've seen roughly 8,372 people.  Only 28 – ½ of them have been Negro, black, or perhaps, African –American.


I encountered 4 fellow black folks in my 3 week stay in Oceanside, and another 24 – ½ in Carlsbad Village, where I arrived on Monday. During a conversation with a Nashville friend, she asked what I thought of the numbers.  I told her that I wasn’t sure, but imagined there might be at least 27 possible explanations, not one about which I felt confident.


During a period some years ago, which some might call, “Open Season on Young Black Men,” I generated a post, Exist with Caution: You May Not Be Who You Think You Are; Or Be Seen the Way You Want.  Having had all of this preparation over 70 years for people seeing me with different Ray - Bans, I developed a response while visiting Dollar Tree stores, when cashiers asked me whether I wanted a receipt.  “A black man should always have a receipt,” and perhaps a few old ones in his pocket, just in case.


Despite this pro – active approach, I actually found myself unprepared last week.  I bought a bumper case and screen protector for my smartphone at 8:38 am at a local Walmart, and was concerned about having it properly matched to my phone.  The sales clerk provided a few hints, but was not allowed to assist me.  She suggested that a manufacturer’s rep would arrive at 10 am, and that I could avail myself of their services.


I proceeded to my Taco Office, which did not open until 9:00 am, and waited a few minutes to take care of “bizness.”  During my wait, I filled out the onlineWalmart survey (expressing my sincere satisfaction with rude sales associates who never appear in Walmart ads), thinking a $1,000 gift card would be right on the money right then.  I carelessly threw the crumpled receipt in the trash, and it was only after I crossed half of the parking lot separating the two, that I realized it.  Walking ¾ mile back to Taco Bell, I was unable to find it.  Undeterred, I returned to the electronics department at 10:22 am, thinking that the manufacturer’s rep had surely arrived. 


Silly me.  Now, not only had he not arrived, but there was an elderly lady in line ahead of me.  I walked around the store and returned at 11:15 am, only to see the elderly lady depart, and no rep.  I figured that I could apply the screen protector myself, or have the fellow at the Metro PCS store, who had switched my service the day before, apply it.


As I was preparing to leave the store, a friendly Walmart sales associate requested my receipt.  And there I stood trying to simply explain how I managed to come from the rear of the store with two still packaged items, and no receipt.  She had that look of having heard my explanation before. Fortunately, I was able to resurrect mycorporate business voice, and it only took me 45 minutes to be gone.


So, fast forward to this afternoon, when I was in a Marshalls with no black folks in sight for miles around.  As is my wont, I left packages from other stores close to the entrance, to avoid walking around with open bags.  I was immediately approached by a security lady who advised me against it, suggesting that someone might take my previously purchased items, and that Marshalls would not be responsible.  I explained that I preferred not to walk around the store with open packages out of concern for… well, you know.  Not having any appreciation of my issue, she insisted, and said, “You have nothing to worry about, Sir. “


As I put on my newly purchased Ray Bans, and left the store, I realized: There are many situations where a black dude walking through a white anything would be regarded as suspect.  I guess that it just depends on… “Whatever.”





  1. From a friend, who sent this to me directly via e-mail:

    I have a bestie who is of Mexican heritage. She grew up in San Antonio. She talks about her childhood and the discrimination she experienced in San Antonio, TX. I would never guess this happened to her.

    Ignorance that people play a game of compare and compete, useless game. It starts in the family and transfers into our school system, our faith, our workplace, our society. Nothing more than a pervasive game of hierarchy that weakens the world and creates robotic thinkers. God forbid if you think out of the box and appear to be different, unless of course you have a pocket full of money.

    The outcome of this belief system has perpetuated hatred, wars, loneliness, addictions, and suicides.
    I have long thought and known we are not as civilized or smart as we profess.

    On another note, it sounds like you are happy to be home. Congratulations.

  2. Thank you, Becky. Race is a very complex issue. It is my humble opinion that much of racism is DNA / gene driven. However, that is a subject for another day. Be well.


"There Are More Than 2 Or 3 Ways To View Any Issue; There Are At Least 27"™

"Experience Isn't Expensive; It's Priceless"™

"Common Sense Should be a Way of Life"™