I’m not one to plan my schedule with regular pit stops on social media except for taking to Facebook on occasion to track down or catch up with family and friends. However, given Donald Trump’s propensity for delivering his “erudite” reflections via Twitter rather than following tradition and relaying news during White House press conferences, I’ve found it necessary to read and respond to the more colorful tweets of the day.
One exchange between a Black man employed as a hotel manager and a white woman looking to secure a room for the night made me laugh so hard that I had to pull my car over to the side of the road. We only see the hotel manager in the video which has since gone viral but it isn’t hard to imagine the look on the woman’s face. To summarize the scenario, it seems the woman had called the hotel earlier seeking to book a room for the night. Why she became angry or impatient we do not know but at some point, she felt both compelled and justified to refer to the man by that two-word phrase that makes Black folks’ blood boil: a “fu**ing nig**er.”
Imagine her surprise when upon reaching the hotel and stopping at the front desk to conclude her business, she came face to face with the same person who she’d earlier addressed with such disdain and disrespect. He was, in fact, the hotel manager. Despite her weak efforts to apologize and her pleas for him to give her a room so she could join her family, already booked for the night, all of whom were grieving after burying the woman’s mother that day, the “Black man in charge” refused to forgive, forget or acquiesce.
Rather, he said stood his ground, maintained his poise and then said emphatically, “I’m the one you talked to on the phone. It’s above me now. But there’s a Best Western next door.”
I suppose you could say the woman realized a racist’s worst nightmare: when the person in authority, a person who one could have easily and safely assumed would be at the helm “back in the day,” is today, a Black man or woman. In the four decades since Dr. King’s death, a new American Majority has slowly emerged. In 1968, America was home to approximately 25 million people of color — 12 percent of the U.S. population. By 2008, people of color numbered more than 104 million people — 36 percent of the population. In other words, the U.S., due to changing demographics, continues to move closer to a new reality when whites will be a minority of the American population with census projections estimating that by 2044, the U.S. will become a “majority minority” nation.
In a perfect world, this change in the skin color of those making up the majority of U.S. citizens wouldn’t mean very much and life would go on as usual. But America has long been a country confounded by, established upon and replete with numerous examples of illogical, unjust ironies. The Founding Fathers were determined to set the new nation on the path of liberty and justice for all — God-given rights they believed that should be afforded to everyone, as long as they were white men. At the same time, they refused to extend those same “inalienable rights” to those born with darker hues (Native Americans and Blacks specifically).
But the times, they are a-changing as the above cited white, racist woman seeking lodging discovered the hard way. Still, she’s not the first forced to confront her deepest fears, nor will she be the last. I’ve often wondered how different the landscape of America and the world would be if white racists had to deal with the consequences of their actions, attitudes and ignominy as they have long committed heinous acts in order to maintain control, holding on for with a vice-like grip to a centuries-old system of “white privilege” and enjoying its many benefits.
As the countdown continues and the majority in America becomes the minority, racists unwilling to change their ways like Pharaoh whose hardened heart could not allow for compassion are in for a shockingly new reality. Today, or maybe tomorrow, they’ll look up and realize that the lawyer, the doctor, the judge, the teacher — even the hotel manager — are all Black.
James Baldwin said it best in his conclusion to his prophetic work, “Notes of a Native Son”:
“The time has come to realize that the interracial drama acted out on the American continent has not only created a new Black man, it has created a new white man, too … This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again.”