Once I worked in a hospital in a pretty much all white city in the northwest. One night we were sitting at the nurse’s station and one of the male nurses turned to me and asked me why blacks get so excited at church and funerals etc. He went on and on about blacks and kept insisting on asking me for explanations. Unfortunately I don’t feel that I am the voice of every black in the nation and told him this. But, then his real agenda showed and he asked the question I’m sure was on his mind from the get go. “Why are blacks so angry about slavery, I don’t understand, I mean the slave owner probably treated them good, just like he would a tractor if he had one. I mean nobody wants to have any of their property get ruined or broken, so you know that he would try and take care of them.” I must have been looking at him like his head had just popped off and confetti was shooting from his open neck. This was to be a long night.
Well I don’t know if that is a question that a lot of whites have but, I thought it was THE dumbest thing I had ever heard. I first had to ask him if he really wanted to equate my ancestors with farm equipment. He again explained his theory on farm equipment and slavery being pretty much the same thing. Well, I just shot him that you’re a dumb bastard look and started in on him. I immediately asked him if he would feel alright with me coming over to his family’s house and rounding up some of them to work on my new farm. He said he didn’t feel comfortable with that question. Why? You just said it wasn’t so bad, so why not let me have your grandma, I’m pretty sure she knows how to cook, clean, sew and whatever else I need, she can do it. Don’t forget your kids, I’ll take them too. He was flabbergasted to say the least, and said that this was unfair because the questions were loaded. But why not I continued, I wanted him to explain the shock he felt.
He said that he didn’t feel that it would be right in this day and age. I asked him if it were 400 years in the past, would he be OK with it then. He was a little perturbed. I found this funny, so now I was free to go on. So basically it was OK for his ancestors to put my ancestors in bondage just not the other way around. He would be fine taking my family apart but not fine with his being torn asunder. I started in on his obvious hypocrisy and how he obviously viewed blacks as being worth less than that of his white family members. Well he still thought he had a case and said that we all know that it is wrong now, that is why he just didn’t think we should get off the subject with talk of his family. I had to point out that with his original statement he made it quite clear that slavery wasn’t so bad etc. He explained that what he felt really was that slavery was over dramatized and that it wasn’t nearly as bad as people made it seem. I think my head was popping off and the confetti about to come from my neck.
NOT so bad, I could barely contain myself at this point. I had to shake my head to make sure it really was still attached. He was obviously an idiotic fool. There were beatings, rapes, families being torn apart, kids sold here and parents taken there. How would he feel to be a child ripped from his family and comfort to go live with some crazed man with a whip and lust for your black female relatives? Not allowed to speak your language, kept from your religion, customs and any semblance of your way of life. I just couldn’t believe that he would sit there and try and defend one of, no THE most horrendous crime to take place in the entire world. Nothing not even the holocaust lasted for 400 years. I mean this was ridiculous.
Well, we started going back and forth with our arguments and the House nurse walked in and broke it up. He had been listening for a while and was very embarrassed. He asked if I was OK, which I was, just a bit angry. Well at the end of the shift, which was 7 a.m. I was called into the Supervisors office where they apologized and the whole jazz. When I left I saw the guy going to his car, he was angry and said he had been fired and to him that was discrimination against him because he didn’t feel he did anything wrong. The interesting thing about it was that I could care less that the guy was fired or that he felt angry or whatever. I started to wonder if that is how whites feel about blacks when they get canned etc. Well if it is I didn’t care about that either. I worked the remainder of the summer with his girlfriend who told me they were moving out to Boise Idaho, and I thought that was a fitting place for the guy. There is nothing else, no moral or twist, this was just my I worked with a stupid guy story.