It’s a horse, right? It sure looks like a horse to me… Kind of an odd horse, but a horse, right?
. Yes, the images are of a horse, or rather, my interpretation of one. So what is this about a ‘Big Chicken’?
. I will tell you: I am the Chicken, and a big one, indeed. I wrote the previous post and got scared. I deleted it. Yes, it’s up now, but for a couple of hours it was gone. Why? Because I was afraid of offending someone. A black person, to be exact.
. I wrote the previous post specifically for that reason: Fear. I wrote it motivated by a trip to the grocery store I made in the day or so after George Floyd was murdered. Because I was terrified when a black man followed me down an aisle. I know it sounds insane, and so, SO PREDJUDICED!!!! But he looked so angry…
I don’t know if I ever felt so ridiculous while simultaneously feeling afraid. What went thru my mind’s eye was him attacking me in retribution for what that murderous policeman had done! And to compound matters I felt my face burning with shame for feeling that way, and I knew he could see the fear as plainly as if I had screamed “Ahhhhhhh!” and run blindly towards the door. I was telling myself, ” You are being ridiculous, Susan, stop it!!!” This man was angry at what had happened in Minneapolis, not with me; why did I feel SO GUILTY?
In the next few minutes, after I had looked down at the floor apologetically muttering, ‘excuse me’, he had passed me by and joined his wife in their shopping expedition. The problem now was, how do I get past them to the other items I need? It was apparent that they needed the exact same things, so my discomfort became one endless tooth extraction of a shopping trip. I tried getting angry at myself: “NO, you are NOT going home without what you need.” And, ” They are NOT reading your mind! Reach over and get your butter!” OH GOOD GRIEF!!!! This was just INSANITY!!!
. She looked very aggravated that I was near her cart, she looked aggravated that she was near her own cart, she just looked very aggravated. I must have looked like a bumbling fool, while the gentleman looked like he wished he were anywhere else on earth than in that place at that moment in time. We were all trapped in some sad “Twilight Zone” race relations episode, or a “What NOT to Do” manual.
. Needless to say, we all made it back to our prospective homes somehow. Me with my butter, her with her’s, he with her.( here we go round the mulberry bush…) I felt like I had run a mile, and I was confused. What made me feel so bad? Why, I had even backed up to let them get in front of me in line, when it was obvious that she had more stuff than me!!! (veteran shoppers understand) The questions lingered, my discomfort lingered ’till I just had to let it out, here.
. Now we get right down to the Chicken part: It was too uncomfortable to even write an honest post about! If you re-read it there is NO MENTION of my experience! I had written briefly about it, then deleted the details before writing the apologetic and irritatingly “white” post of how my family’s heritage can be compared to the compounded, recurring violent executions by police of unarmed black men. Even as I try to relate in that post to George’s family in their loss, I am inexplicably minimizing the horror of systemic racism.
. Wow, “what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive”… I was not even being genuine to myself , because ultimately I am the only person I am talking to here, right? Which means I could not even face myself with the fear I had felt in that store.
. So, in my shame I deleted the post, in the hopes that no one had found me out, like a kid sneaking out of the house with a bottle of whiskey. I was taking my dirty secret away to bury it in invisibility. How would that have worked out for my conscience?
. I spent nearly 40 years running away from myself, but I soon showed my true colors everywhere I ran. I finally put down the liquor, the chemicals, and the lies in 1999…or did I? Was I carrying prejudice that I had never honestly admitted I had? Was I afraid of my black brothers and sisters? Can I love someone I fear? Was I part of this evil?
. I can see my Grandpa, a Tennessee-born-tobacco-juice-spitting red-neck sitting there on the front porch sippin’ his Wild Turkey…and grinning.