Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Yesterday I was riding a bus home from the grocery store; not a rare occurrance, as it happens about twice a week. same route, roughly same time of day. I live in a sort of iffy neighborhood; some parts are pretty okay, and others are covered in graffiti and most of the stores are empty and boarded up. Still, there are no street shootings or drug dealing on the corners.

Two African-American guys were getting off the bus, and as they approached the door, an older white man declared, very loudly, that they had better leave, that they were thugs who raped his mother, and were probably off to rape another white woman. He said he was "a proud honky", and was right behind them.

Naturally, the two youths turned back around, very angry. They started yelling back and forth, both sides threatening violence, calling each other names, the youths saying the man "looked gay", which was ignorant and intolerant too. I stood there with my groceries, fuming, near tears, bursting with the need to turn around and say something to these men.

I wanted to shout to the white man that I was ashamed of him and he ought to be ashamed of himself, that while no doubt something terrible had happened to his mother, that was no excuse to blame an entire race of people for the acts of a few. That we lived in an era where men should be judged by the content of their character regardless of whatever color their skin was, an idea first spoken by Martin Luther King Jr., a black man killed by a "proud honky" like him. To the youths I wanted to say not to judge an entire race by the acts of a few ignorant, angry people, and not to carry anger and hatred away from this encounter. I wanted to tell them that they were young and it was for them to say how their generation would react to such bigotry, with forgiveness and a striving for change, of with more hatred and violence.

Instead, I said none of these things. The bus stopped, I got out, and I walked home. Tears burned the back of my throat for all the things I hadn't said.

Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." I have always been a fighter, but I did nothing on that bus. And I find it hard to forgive myself for that.


Jessica said...

Ginger, you will get another chance and when you do, remember this time and find your voice. It's never easy to speak the truth. writing about it here is still making a difference.

Steven said...

Don't be to hard on yourself Ginger. I think in this instance you made a wise choice. These three angry men wouldn't have heard your message anyway. At that moment they were to deep into their own anger and hatred to listen. There's also the chance that they may have turned that anger towards you. I agree with Jessica, by writing about it here, you are making a difference :-)