Finding Heaven In The Dark
Excerpt from THE HUNGRY I – Chapter 11 page 267
When the group wasn’t talking about sex, cars, or sports, the subject returned to race. Naturally, I endeavored to elevate the conversation. I believed that I had a lot to contribute, because I was an expert on the subject. After all, I grew up among all types of people and was an insider and outsider in both white and black groups. More importantly, though, I had an objective insight I loved to share.
The dispute erupted after three days of rain kept us inside. The chemistry among incarcerated youths is always fluid and can easily turn incendiary with the right provocation.
“Hey ya’ll,” Leon shouted during a quiet moment in the dorm. “No white boys on any teams, starting tomorrow!” he finished with an arrogant gesture. Most of us looked up from what we were doing and laughed nervously. Leon’s taunting statement was made to get a reaction, but we did not take it seriously.
“Nah, nah, nah, ya’ll, I’m not jokin’. If I see a white boy playin’ basketball when we’re on the court, I’m gonna kick his ass!” Leon threatened slowly, so there would be no misunderstanding. With Ted on my team, this was a direct shot at me. I decided to make it a teaching episode and be philosophical regarding the racial topic that we were repeatedly drawn to.
“Race is an illusion,” I said to get everyone’s attention. “Racial classifications, ethnic groups, even nationalities are all artificial barriers that men created to divide people.”
“That’s bullshit, man,” Leon shot back. “You’re talkin’ outta your ass!”
“It sounds far out, I know. We identify races, nationalities, and ethnic groups; yet, they develop from natural selection. Negro blood, Oriental blood, and Caucasian blood are all the same! Unless you note skin color or facial characteristics, there are no distinctions among us. We share the same fluids and organs! That means we’re all the same human beings in reality, in God’s sight,” I concluded my message, and arguments broke out around the room.
“Niggers been catchin’ hell from the white man for three-hundred years, and that shit ends now! Leon shouted. “No white dudes on the court!” he added and gestured. “It’s simple! You come on the court while the black brothers are playin’, and your white ass gets kicked,” he ended his rant; it was followed by a chorus of laughs from his stooges.
“That’s wrong,” I said, as all eyes looked my way.