Posted By Raya Yarbrough on August 30, 2012
I talked to my dad today, and he told me that the other day he was riding a bus in Santa Monica.
When the bus came to his stop, he got up and walked towards the front.
The bus was crowded, a lot of people busy in their minds and in their own worlds.
Smooth frail technology, poked and tapped by greasy homosapien hands,
white plastic veins channeling digital sound in cartilage holes in hairy fleshy tunnels
through labyrinthine bones to red stretching veins on dense thinking matter,
releasing the eyes to roll carelessly over the landscape of heads with eyes rolling carelessly,
hands doing nothing, ankles swollen and some twitching in black torn converse
with faded silver marker sketches of boyfriend’s names, gum turned black on the bottom,
black from what used to be pink, stretched over dense stinking matter like veins.
A lot of people in their own worlds.
Until an asshole spoke up.
My dad was about 3 steps from the door when he accidentally brushed his elbow against a young man.
“Hey! Don’t F–king touch me!”
My dad turned around. The young man continued.
“Don’t F–cking touch me, I hate you people.”
“I said I hate you mother F–ckers! Don’t touch me!”
My dad is an imposing figure. 6’3″ with a studied, fixed glare he can turn on with disarming grace.
It’s not a threat, just a look. The young man continued with anger and epithets I will not repeat here,
but my dad did not meet him on that level. He responded,
“Hey man, let it go. Just let it go.”
He wouldn’t let it go.
“No man, I hate you n–gars. Don’t touch me.”
And with the special magic, the special uniquely American spark that can only be brought forth with the utterance of “the N word,”
The mass of semi-conscious carbon based life, linked and bound with semi-conscious silicone based life – woke up.
Another young man stepped in.
“Hey let it go man, he said to let it go, so just back off .”
The first young man would not back off, he continued with the hateful shouts, but the second man wound not back down either.
By this time my dad was off the bus, watching through the open front door – other passengers had begun to leave,
having become uncomfortable with the heated scene, not usually witnessed in hippie-liberal Santa Monica, CA.
“What’s wrong with you man, leave him alone!”
“What the hell’s wrong with you, I hate those people!”
A crowd started gathering around the front door of the bus, locals – other African American people who had witnessed the start of it all
- watching two young, white men fight both sides of the oldest American battle.
(possibly the second oldest, considering Native Americans, but that’s a different bus ride)
Other people on the bus started backing up the second young man, the one who was defending my father’s side.
Eventually, the driver threw the troublemaker off the bus, right out the side door, and the other young man exited the front,
where most of the crowd was. Dad didn’t tell me where the troublemaker went, but he was out of the picture.
When the second young man came off the bus, my dad said he put his hand on his shoulder.
“Thank you, really man. I was fine to walk away, you didn’t have to step in there – but that was really cool.”
I’m sure it’d been 50 years since my dad had experienced such blatant hatred, but the word he used to describe the experience as whole was “beautiful.” Beautiful that a man from a different race would take such a strong stance on behalf of a man he didn’t know.
Beautiful that he could’ve said nothing, but he chose to speak up. After my dad told me that story, I was shaken -
- in my lifetime racism has been a thing I read about in history books, I’ve never experienced it as described here,
but these are changing times in my country, and with growth comes growing pains.
This is sad story about a young man who had so much anger within himself,
he had to turn the anger outward towards a man he didn’t know.
This is a sad story about a country filled with people who have so much anger within themselves,
they have to turn the anger towards people they don ‘t know.
This is a happy story about a young man who had so much strength and insight,
he stood up for a man he didn’t even know.
This is a happy story about a country with the strength, insight, bravery and wisdom to wake up -
through the numbing taps and clicks, the digital bump and grind of media,
the gusts of fumes we bullet through in air conditioning and satellite maps,
the din of rhetoric in dim blue light -
- to wake up, and stand for each other.