I had an awakening last weekend in Cleveland, and it wasn’t a good one.
I was in Cleveland for Liberation Conversations 2009, a wonderful annual conference of the Interdenominational Conference of Liberation Congregations and Ministries. To learn more visit http://www.amistaducc.org/ICLCM/ICLCM%20Home.htm. On Sunday evening, after the closing worship, nine of us went looking for a place to eat. We ended up at Applebees on Steeleyard Drive in Cleveland. There were nine of us people at the table and I obviously wasn’t thinking about the fact that I am white and the others are people of color. The first time the waitress approached to take our drink orders I noticed that, while she called everyone else either “honey” or “dear”, she called me “sir”. The first time I thought it was an accident or some sort of coincidence. The second pass through when she delivered our drinks the same thing happened. Might still be a coincidence – unless, the third approach when she took our dinner orders, it happened again.
I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but there is no benefit to be gained here. I was not older than everyone else. I was not dressed better than everyone else. In fact, because I wear my hair longer than most men do you might say that if someone was going to judge my by my appearance they might dismiss me as a hippie. A very handsome hippie, but a hippie nonetheless, and if they did that they would only be half right because I am not a hippie. When the food was delivered, this time by a woman of color, we were all called “dear” or “honey”. Generally speaking, I don’t like being called by any term of affection in less I have been affectionate with you – but this night I felt great relief for you see these people I was with are in fact my brothers and sisters is a profound sense that transcends biology, family, and most certainly the color of our skin.
Wake up Applebees – wake up America! The time for this nonsense never was, and the time in which is was tolerated is long gone