Friday, February 5, 2010

Don't Blame the White Man

Earlier today, I went to the public library up the street with a co-worker of mine, so that she could pick up some books and other materials for her kids at home. While she looked around in the reference section upstairs, I poked around at the DVDs. I always gravitate towards the movies, even if I don't actually carry my library card on me. On a side note: I do plan on eventually taking my card to the library and borrowing some documentaries and films I haven't seen yet (Vertigo, Metropolis, BrĂ¼no).

As I was standing there sifting through the arrangement, I overheard a woman speaking to one of the librarians (is that a correct term for everyone at the library?). The conversation went something like this:

Woman: "Yeah, I'm homeless, see. And I just came here to Delaware recently on the train. I need to use the internet but can't get on the computer."

Librarian: "Okay. I think what we need is an ID from you. One moment please. *Looking to a co-worker* What do we need?"

Co-worker: "You would need to show us a valid ID and *something inaudible*"

W: "Here you go."

L: "I'm sorry, I can't take this. This isn't an ID, it's a social security card."

W: "Please, I just need to use the computer. I don't see what the big deal is."

L: "I'm sorry, but those are the rules. I didn't make them up, and I can't wave them just for you."

W: "That doesn't make any sense! I don't see what the problem is..."

L: "The fact of the matter is, ma'am, you came in here earlier, gave me a completely different story, you said you came to town on the Greyhound bus, then when I asked to see your ID, you just flashed something at me. You didn't even show me what you had in your hand. What you just showed me is a social security card. I can't use that. I need to see a valid, state-issued form of ID."

The woman continues to cause a scene, being loud, obnoxious, and rude. I can't recall everything that was happening, but I'll continue.

Remaining calm, the librarian says,

L: "Ma'am."

W: "I ain't your ma'am!"

L: "It may be best if you just leave."

The disgruntled woman continues to holler about whatever.

L: "Okay, you need to leave."

W: "This is ridiculous!"

L: "You need to leave."

W: "You should let me use the internet! It's Martin Luther King's birthday!"

L: "I didn't know that was part of the rules."

W: "Well, it should be!"

The woman storms out of the library, and proceeds to scream and yell on the street. I know this, because I still heard her as I stood in the DVD section, near a window.

Let's get a few things clear. What I am accounting really happened, number one. Number two, it happened today. Do you know what today is? It's Friday, February 5, 2010. Dr. King's birthday was last month. Yes, it's Black History Month right now, but it doesn't give any person of color a pass to behave like a complete jerk. Yes, the woman was black, and the librarian was white. The color of both women is completely irrelevant.

Allow me to point something out. Today's scenario was a case of a person trying to accomplish something (what I don't know), and when it didn't work out in that person's favor, there was an attempt to turn the tables, and be made into the victim of discrimination. Did the woman have a library card? No. Did she have a photo ID? No. A social security card does not guarantee that you are who you say you are. I know, a photo ID can be forged, but it's more likely to be of the person holding it.

I myself, like so many others out there, am beyond sick and tired of people trying to get ahead by using the struggles and accomplishments of others. Name-dropping Dr. King will not work in your favor, I'm sorry. What King stood for, and died for was not to have a person 40 years down the line, manipulate the rules, because they don't live according to the same standards as the majority. My president's black. So what?! Yes, I voted for Obama, but not because I relate to him racially. I also didn't look to Obama like he is that family member you don't speak to until they come across money. I voted for him, because he made me believe that it was possible for people to unite and achieve the greater good through both words and actions.

Honestly, I'm not trying to preach peace, love, and tolerance, but I would really appreciate seeing people act with a sense of accountability sometime before I die. For anyone refusing to get on-board with what should be happening, you're not forcing those who look down on us to search for a reason to look down on us any longer. If anything, too many are reinforcing negative, stereotypical archetypes. It's not racism every time a white person tells a person of color, no.

So where do the excuses and handouts stop? I would definitely like to know, so I can take a photograph of the last person in line.

I don't know where else to go with this, but let's try a little harder.