My family grew up in Selma, Alabama during the height of the racial flareups (1959 – 1963). I witnessed severe discrimination firsthand against blacks. Believe me, things have gotten better in the hate department since that time. I’m sure Selma, Mayor Darrio Melton, would concur. If anyone were to disagree I’d politely ask them,
“Did you personally experience how life was in Selma in 1963?”
Twenty years later, I suffered racial discrimination of my own. My wife and I took a couple of cruises to Hawaii. One was on the SS Constitution, and the other on the SS Independence. Both beautiful ships have now been scrapped.
It was on the second cruise that I decided to take a lone hike. Can’t remember the exact island at this point but the port was more industrial. I was off by myself enjoying sights when a large fellow came up from behind. I’d bought a Hawaii 5-0 baseball hat in Honolulu and the stranger started making fun of it. Said he had ‘puna buds’ if I wanted any. I politely informed him I didn’t smoke dope.
At that point the guy became irate, calling me all kinds of nasty things including,
That word meant absolutely nothing to me, although I’d heard it before in Honolulu. I assumed he was cursing at my not purchasing any of his goods. When the man began moving closer I didn’t hesitate as trained. Kids from Alabama are taught at an early age how to defend themselves.
As a young person who loved the outdoors, I wore Dexter brand Waffle-Stomper boots wherever I went. It was a good thing that I had them on that day. The poor fellow undoubtedly hurt in his private section for weeks. He was on the ground writhing in pain when I hightailed it back to the ship.
My wife’s been back to Hawaii, but I’m satisfied staying on mainland USA. It’s not that I’m afraid of discrimination or being accosted over there. I doubt any young Hawaiian would stroll up to an old man offering to sell him puna buds.
The fellow that hassled me in 1983 was no different than some white dude antagonizing a black guy, or vice versa. Racial hate is prevalent in all races and has been since the beginning of time. Much like the Covid-19 flu, It’ll take much more time before it’s completely rubbed out; if it ever is.
These days I feel more secure in my own element and that’s okay with Joleen. She can go to Hawaii with friends and I’ll hike into the Grand Canyon for a few days.
A few years ago I quit wearing Waffle-Stomper boots. Those heavy things were like having a personal bodyguard on each foot. Perhaps it’s time for a new pair?
Boy, do I miss them!