A place to indulge my narcissism... and write stuff...

Black Like Me

I’m off Facebook again, and hopefully this time for good. In response to a “Black Lives Matter” piece I posted, a “Facebook Friend” replied:

fuck you
had any black people over for dinner lately?

Another “friend” posted a BLM opposition piece authored by, of course, a black man as if that one opinion renders the movement illegitimate.

I deactivated my account.

I mean, I guess there are black conservatives besides Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas, but why? Considering Trump’s Republican party today, I wonder, what specific policies do any of his supporters uh, support? You know, other than the racist ones like “the wall” and defending the Confederate legacy of slavery.

Life is too short, and I can’t spend any more time debating those “fine people.” All I can do is try to evolve myself.

The answer to the Facebook question posed to me is “No, I have not had any black people over for dinner lately.” I don’t have any black friends. I grew up in a white town and pre-pandemic, worked in a very white office. I do have an African-American work acquaintance who I had hallway chats with back a building ago. While we did have some lengthy conversations over the years, race was never a topic.

Just a shade over 20 years ago, I was tasked with hiring my replacement when the New England office I worked in was being relocated to California. I was offered a generous package to move but declined for family reasons. I flew out to interview candidates with the instruction to bring only the worthy ones to the boss for a second interview. Hiring your own replacement is akin to approving a life-partner for your child. No one is likely to be good enough. After passing on a few candidates that I knew were not a good fit I interviewed a black man. He had a great resume and as we spoke, I could tell his broad skillset would be a key to success and we just connected. Feeling good about his potential for the role, I introduced him to the boss. About 15 minutes later they emerged along with a look from the boss that said, “are you kidding?” Since the boss didn’t cite any specific reasons the gentleman wasn’t right for the job, I assumed the reason. I believed the candidate was just like me in terms of skills and experience – a great fit, but he didn’t get the job. Later in the day, I said, “fuck it” and brought the boss an unqualified used car-salesman type just for fun. At the end of the day, I told my soon to be former boss that he needed to find my replacement himself, and he did.

13 years earlier during my interview, he and I had a pleasant conversation about cars and family. I got the job. I’m not sure whether a black candidate like me would have. If not for the white privilege that kept doors open for me, I’m not quite sure where I’d be. As for the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s not dismissive of other lives. It simply asks for fairness for black lives – in getting a job, a house, another breath in this life. It’s not too much to ask.

“The brutality with which Negroes are treated in this country simply cannot be overstated, however unwilling white men may be to hear it.”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963)

1 Comment

  1. Brian Lueken

    I got flamed by someone I do not even know on facebook for suggesting that instead of standing in your front yard brandishing weapons you clearly do not know how to use, maybe just staying inside during a peaceful protest is a good idea. It has lost its luster for me too.

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