Myra is working on her third career—her fourth actually.
Way back when she worked as a barmaid in a couple of bars that catered to older black fellows, where a smiling white girl behind the bar was a good draw.
She once managed retail music stores, and then decided to save her little portion of the world by managing various halfway houses for addicts and alcoholics. She eventually got out of this liberal line of work for her own safety, as she spent the day and night surrounded by violent criminals. She is now working part time as a cleaning lady as she attends school.
Out for my walk today, I passed her on the sidewalk, coming from the bus stop, limping as her left knee is obviously arthritic. As to my inquiry concerning her condition she said, “I’m just lucky there was a black person getting off at my stop. You’re a bus person, you know. She’s one of those black drivers that thinks she’s doing the right thing by punishing poor white people for what rich white people did hundreds of years ago.”
I responded, “I’ve had to walk many a time because I was the only white at a bus stop and didn’t get picked up. Being held hostage on a bus for the crime of being white has only happened to me one time, and it was recent, just last year.”
She continued, holding her knee and wincing, “The nerve is exposed, so, by the way I walk, it’s obvious that I’m not doing well. I wait to get on after the rest [men generally board first in Baltimore], and when I stepped up [of course the driver did not kneel the bus for her—kneeling buses, look it up] then said, ‘Good morning,’ and thanked her—and she guns it, sending me reeling and grabbing to stay up.
“This woman was obviously filled with hate to the point where she could not contain it. Every time a bell rang for a stop, she would look in the mirror to see who it was, and she never stopped at a stop that was only requested by a white person. Luckily for me a black guy decided to get off at my stop, because she had already spied me and wasn’t going to let me off.”
“You know, I’ve had black people accuse me of being racist my entire life because of slavery, and I’m like, ‘Look, no one in my family ever owned a car until ten years ago, let alone a slave!’ I told this one girl, ‘Look at how many diamonds you wear. Those are processed by slaves now, real slaves now, and you’re supporting that!’
“Being so outspoken, I’m surprised I got accepted into school. We had to take this test that slotted you according to your political orientation, and the way I was answering the questions, trying to be honest, I thought for sure I was going to test out as conservative. I scored liberal, though.”
I told Myra, “That is the idea behind the process; you are supposed to feel like you are seeing things from too far to the right. That feeling, if you are not a psycho, will draw you to the left in word and action as you try to fit in to the accepted ethical construct.”
“That’s something to think about,” she said. “I had not thought of it precisely like that, but it makes sense in terms of my experience.”