This morning after my five-mile run, I was in the midst of doing my customary cool down walk-stretch combination, when I noticed a white woman walking towards me. She had her earphones in, but I noticed that once she saw me, she pulled her iPod out, turned the volume down, and took one ear bud out--something I also do when someone is coming towards me or when I notice someone behind me (keep in mind it was 5:15 am). Once we walked by one another, she said, "Good morning", and I returned the favor. Harmless enough right? No
I didn't simply say good morning my friends, but I summoned the most proper good morning greeting I could muster (think Geoffrey Holder meets Dennis Haysbert). I felt it was necessary to let this woman know that I was just a regular, proper-speaking black man who was out for a morning jog, and not an improper speaking thug looking to harass her at 5am. Never mind that at that very moment I walked by her, a very defiant and profane song by Brand Nubian, entitled "Lick Dem Muthafuckas" was playing in my headphones, and after a five-mile run I was feeling anything but pleasant and cordial. Yet, in an effort to be disarming and pleasant, I ignored my first inclination to be "normal", and chose the safe route.
On one hand, I feel I like did what has been very normal and comfortable for me for the longest time. Since elementary school, I've been in situations where there were less than five percent black folks, which meant I took it upon myself--either at the urging of my parents or some type of internal instinct--to carry myself in a certain way, so that I could show the majority (white folks) how the other half lived (that's some painful shit to type in 2014). On the other hand, given that I am damn near 40 and grown (but not sexy), I know good and goddamn well that I should not be dancing that dance for some woman I don't even know. If she was scared as I approached her, that shouldn't have been my problem and I shouldn't have bent over backwards to make her feel comfortable, by acting in a way that made me feel the exact opposite. I know we all wear the mask and shit, but damn..I took it too far, and I still feel like a sellout.