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Respect

Trump

I, like all of my friends, have been knocked sideways by the strange and sudden turn of events. Trump’s nomination has left us gasping for breath. (It doesn’t help that a rash of forest fires in the area has draped our city with a tarp of smoke.) In short: we expected the glass ceiling broken but had the floor fall out from under our feet instead.

Home Depot

My Grenadian friend, Carl, asked the Home Depot guy about their oak selection. He needed at least an 8-foot board. The guy turned to me and started to answer. I took a half step back and pointed at Carl. Meaning: talk to him. The guy’s eyes opened a notch and he did just that: he turned to Carl and answered his question. Then he walked us to where the oak boards were and hustled off, no doubt (hopefully) embarrassed by his unconscious maneuver.

Two days later, Carl asked me if I remembered the encounter at Home Depot. I nodded before he even specified. “Oh yeah,” I said. I could tell he was happy I knew what he was talking about. “It happens to us all the time,” he said. “They think we don’t know anything and so ask you.” He meant black folks and white guy. “Yeah, I know,” I said. “It must be infuriating.”

Mavis

It didn’t take me more than a second to type “Yes!” on my phone when my friend, Jay, said he still had an extra ticket to Mavis Staples that night. I needed a little dose of soul. And Mavis didn’t let me down. By the time her band broke into the Talking Heads’ “Slippery People,” I’d dropped all my worries and began to dance. A few songs later, an elderly African-American woman standing behind the Mavis counter waved me over. I’d been dancing with myself in the back, beer in hand. “Who taught you to dance, son?”
I laughed and shrugged. “Well,” she said, handing me a bottle of water, “you can come to my party anytime.” Mavis stalked the stage, reminding us to “Respect Yourself.”