Thursday, May 29, 2008

Uncle Tom-dre...?

I hate putting myself on blast. But sometimes, maybe I just deserve it.

Yesterday as I was leaving a gas station, I was confronted by a young, white woman in tears. Appearance wise, the woman seemed relatively "together"; insofar as I could determine. She was wearing an Nike jumpsuit, had her hair neatly pulled back in a ponytail, and was wearing a hint of conversatively applied makeup. Minus the cigarette she was puffing (I get endlessly annoyed by smokers) she appeared innocent enough. She proceeded in giving me a sob story about how she ran out of gas up the road, how her cell phone died, and how she didn't have any money. Though I offered to take her where she needed to go (Admittedly this is a pretty naive and dangerous habit of mine. I'm working on that.), she declined. Instead, she asked me for "a few dollars". Without hesitation, I pulled out the last $8 I had on the planet and gave it to her. She thanked me for the money and started on -- what I think was-- a trek back to her vehicle.

After that encounter, I stuck my chest out in a self congratulatory manner; praising myself for doing what I considered my good deed for the day. But upon further reflection, I thought about all the times I was approached by scrungy, unkept people with similar stories where I wasn't so quick with my benevolence. I thought about the brothas I see in downtown Flint to whom I'd likely not be so generous. While I do still make it a point to offer assistance if it's requested, I never, ever freely distribute money. Instead, I'd take it upon myself to buy the goods or service they needed. For instance, if someone asked me for money to buy something to eat, rather than giving them my cash, I'd offer to buy the food for them. I simply don't trust people enough to use my cash donations for the purposes they indicate. Yet, when it came to this innocent looking (and yes, pretty) white woman, I did the exact opposite. When she came to me in distress, I not only gave her cash -- thus breaking my own rule -- I did it without hesitation.

I can't help but to feel like I somehow displayed the same kind of prejudice that continues to pervade our society; prejudice based on looks and race. I mean, I could've very well given my last $8 to a pretty, white con artist to whom I immediately showed compassion -- just because she looked a certain way. What does that say about me? Does that make me as bad as the media of whom I'm so critical?

Your thoughts?


6 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Greeneyes said...

Hello MY Greeneyed Handsome MAN,

It is hard to do the right thing when we become so JADED from all we see in the world , I see your thought process on how you could over think(NAH!!! not you , evil'est grin ever ☺ ) the situation and feel a slight similiarity to whom you are "critical" ,to your choice of helping someone (this particular someone).If this person was any race I think you would do the same .You said you help others who ask by helping them get what they need , a meal , etc , again we can become jaded and control the way you give help(get the meal instead give cash ).The balancing of who will OR WILL not use it for what it is asked for is hard and we ususally go by our gut ,which is condtioned by our life's experiences. It is on par with the way everyone (most) equates the boogie man (BAD GUY) to a Tatoo'covered ,rumpled toothless ,homeless person when in reality , many wear a suit and live as we do !

Bottom line you helped someone in need , what they do with that help is the weight they have to carry .It shows you ARE A GOOD GUY and have a good heart . please be careful taking strangers in your car ,,, LOL ,,, YOU never know ,you are dashing and handsome ,someone may wanna keep you!! Your too hard on yourself , feel good you helped someone ☺

Hey , Got 8 bucks ?????? ROTFLMBO
SORRY couldnt resist !

Malik said...

I know I've thought some messed up things about my own people on occasion. I think there are so many negative images floating around out there that you can't help but assimilate it to some extent. Being conscious of that helps me to be patient when people do or say racist things without malicious intent. That doesn't mean I won't point out what they did or said is harmful, but we're all struggling to undo a lot of history. I think it's good that you're stopping to examine yourself. We all need to do more of that.

t said...

I haven't checked your blog in a while (BUSY!) but it was quite refreshing to read your thought-provoking words. I, too, find myself caught up in my "prejudice" when it comes to offering aid to someone. Whether right or not, it's commonplace to presuppose that a clean and tidy person (of ANY race) that is in clear distress and need has good intentions and integrity. What we MUST strive to do continually is look past the exterior and let the Holy Spirit guide us in our hospitality. Just the other day I was traveling with my 11 year old daughter and passed an African-American gentleman and his son (age 4) who were both walking with several bags of ice. Being that is was almost 100 degrees outside, I didn't hesitate for a moment to offer them a ride. Now--having said that--I am a very cautious person and don't readily give rides to strangers. It was apparent that they were in need. I felt the Holy Spirit and immediately acted upon what I felt He was telling me. I explained to my daughter after delivering the passengers, the reasons behind WHY I offered (she gave me a look of complete surprise when I offered!).

I think it's quite admirable that you took the time to reflect on your quickness to respond and compare it to your normal modus operandi. More than likely, you will be more aware in the future.

All we can do is listen to the Lord and His leading. We absolutely MUST keep a mindset of looking past the exterior of man. Besides, isn't that what HE did??

Joanne said...

Andre, you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. I don't think you exhibited any racist behavior. If anything, I'd say that you did a little more to improve race relations - if only for one person. When she declined the ride you offered, it was likely because she was afraid of the idea of taking a ride from you (perhaps because of your being black). She did at least trust you enough to ask for money. When you extended your hand to her, you may have also removed a stereotype she could've had about black people. You never can tell.

I commend you for being so generous to a stranger. The Spirit definitely guided your actions.

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
Ha, Ha. Turns out Andre profiles and judges people based on appearance just like the rest of us. Don't worry Dre, we're all guilty least you think about it. Just for laughs- the other day a guy hit me for money with one of those "Help me I'm deaf" cards. I told him being deaf didn't make him helpless. (I actually qualify as deaf myself as I've lost over 50% of my hearing.) As he walked away he muttered (very clearly) "Asshole".

Andre said...

Thanks to you all for the positive affirmation and for convincing me that maybe I'm not a race traitor after all. :)