I equate it to some kind of Halloween trick-or-treat extravaganza. 16 year old girls, scrumming into the bank where I work and grabbing almost all the free lollipops on display.One get’s used to it you know. After the first 3 times they did it, it stopped to bother me.
So while I made a deposit for one customer, he was understandably shocked by the behaviour. ‘You just let them do that? Is that okay?’ He asks. I casually explain that they had been doing it for the past two weeks. After all, the lollipops are free for all.
The girls come to my station. All they want is to grab more lollipops. But the man is not having it! He gives them some sort of lecture and hands each exactly one lollipop. I was counting money, no capacity to focus on what he was saying. But assumed it was something along the lines of ‘I prefer to do my banking in peace. ‘ or ‘They will spoil your teeth’. Instead, when I hand him his receipt, I catch the last part of the lecture.
The part where he plea-fully says ‘That’s not how you want them to view us blacks.’
Up until that point, I hadn’t noticed that all the girls were of African decent. Neither had I paid much attention to the fact that the man himself was black. Or that I was too. So I questioned the entire ordeal from a whole different perspective.
What had he really meant when he said ‘You just let them do that?’ Was he bestowing upon me some sort of racial moral obligation? Was it wrong that I let those girls act that way in a formal institution? Or was it wrong that I didn’t stop them ESPECIALLY because they were black?
My point here is, is it inclusion and acceptance we seek when we stop each other from acting in some sort of way? Is that how we try change the narrative? But then again. What if the girls had been white? Would the man have done the same thing? And what if the same thing had happened in a predominantly black place? Would he have mentioned race?
But also, by highlighting race, and the man’s use of ‘them’ as if I wasn’t part of the ones watching was particularly eerie. I know I am black, but I hadn’t experienced the awareness of my race in THAT way before. In some sort of reverse self fulfilling prophecy. Do we make ourselves inferior and THEN work to conform to the standards we believe are acceptable to the white community only?
Contextually, perhaps we should not tell our black brothers to stop with the guns and gangs because they’ll get shot because they are black. Perhaps we should tell them to stop with the guns because guns are terrible. In some instances, it’s not about race, it’s about the lollipops.