As you might know, I’m an old Southern white woman, and when I see a black man, like I do with anyone else, I look into their eyes first. If they look OK, then I’m OK.

The man across the street from me is as black as night, and the most wonderful father to his two little biracial girls you could ever imagine. 

When school is out, the black boys who walk by on the way to where ever they go to enjoy their days off, stop and chat now. I notice when they learn a new trick on their skateboards, and they try over and over to show it to me again. Of course, in the beginning I had to push a little to get them to stop and visit. Not only am I white, but I’m old -- no wonder they were a little hesitant, maybe feeling a little uncertain of their chatting skills, but they’re a lot better now.

On school days, when Pokey (my dog) and I pass them on the way to the school bus, I wish them a happy day and, now, they smile and respond.

I’ve met their grandmother, who lives in the cul de sac at the end of our street, and we enjoy visiting whenever she’s walking her dog. A lovely woman who shares the same values of discipline, hard work and graciousness as I do, she is a bit reserved about carrying the acquaintanceship further, as are most of the neighbors -- black, white and Asian.

On the other end of my street lives a black woman, an insurance agent, whose  little black dog Sebastian is a particular favorite of mine. One day, as she was walking and I was in my house, a loose pit bull frightened my friend. That dog had challenged me, another time. Terrified, she rang my doorbell -- maybe my house was the closest, but I believe she knew she’d be safe with me.

Anyway, we waited together for a little while; I told her how I had intimidated that pit bull, and offered to drive her home. By then, though, she felt better, and said she’d be OK.

I wave at all my neighbors, driving by in the morning and the evening; often, I can’t even see into the darkened car windows to see who they are. Doesn’t matter, they’re my neighbors and everyone likes to be greeted and wished well. Life isn’t that easy for people these days.

And here are two creepy, or beautiful, stories depending on how you see them: One day, my former husband and I decided to cut down a small hawthorne tree. So, I took the chainsaw and hacked away at it until it fell. Then, we started dragging it across the lawn, intending to get it down the street a short ways, and up to an area on the side where I pile up small trees and woody branches.

We looked up to see a burly black man we didn’t know, who offered to help. We didn’t see or hear him come up. Gladly we accepted, and he did most of the work, until the tree was where we wanted it. 

Thanking him, I asked his name and offered to give him something for his help; he said he didn’t need anything to help someone else. He looked surprised when I asked his name. “Clarence”, he said, and I put out my hand. “Would you like a glass of water or lemonade?” I asked, and he said he had to get going. We shook hands, and he walked away up the hill. We didn’t see where he went, and never saw him again.

On another occasion, my elderly Mom was driving home on a rainy night when her car stalled on the expressway. She was able to get it over to the side, but didn’t know exactly what she’d do next. 

Then she saw the lights of a car behind her. A black man got out walked up and asked her if she needed help. Gratefully, Mom explained the problem and he lifted the hood. Soon, her engine was purring again, she thanked him and said she’d drive to the next gas station to make sure everything was OK; he said he’d follow her, to make sure she made it;. Relieved that he would look out for her, she thanked him again, and kept glancing back to make sure he was still there; he was. Driving into the station, she again looked for his lights, and the truck had disappeared.

My Mom, also a journalist, and I share a good dose of skepticism about “woo-woo”-type things. But we’re also spiritual, and we believe those black men were sent to us from a higher place. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t; it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that Mom and I, both born in Birmingham, AL , knew we had nothing to fear because we looked into those men’s eyes, and what we saw was just fine.

Don, I can’t feel what you feel; no one can feel what another person does, but my heart can cry for the pain you expressed on CNN that day. I can relate in one way; until my Mom died at 95 two years ago, I’d still call to tell her I got home OK. My brother and his family live an hour away, and I call them too after visiting. 

I think maybe the reason Mom and I feel the way we do is that our lives have been intertwined with those of black people from our beginning -- of course, the circumstances of how we interacted years and years ago weren’t great, and we’ve changed as have the times, but somehow we developed trust; I can’t explain it, and don’t feel I need to, it’s just there.

I want you to know that, like black men, we white people are not all the same; some of us are OK and, when we reach out our hands to you it’s OK to take them, look us in the eyes as we will to you, and take a chance on walking along together on this scary, exciting new road to social acceptance. As Steve Harvey says every day, “We can do this together”. 

Molly Alexander Darden

 


Comments

08/11/2016 5:57am

We know that Don Lemon is one of the famous American journalists and here is very beneficial post. We shouldn't forget that there is no difference between white and black so stop discussing this topic to make them different.

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