Niagara Gazette

Columns

July 5, 2013

HAMILTON: The side view mirror and the Long Beach gated community

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — “No, I’ll walk,” he said.

As we pulled away, with his sea bag slung over his shoulder, the big fellow struggled his way toward the pedestrian gate. His massive body became smaller and smaller in the images of the side view mirror, until he completely faded from the sight.

I’ve looked into that same, now-proverbial mirror a thousand times since then. However, I no longer see just a single 6-foot tall, plump, white shipmate walking toward a wrought iron gate in what I can only believe to have been a de facto, whites-only conclave. As well as seeing the faint silhouette of myself, I can see the blurry image of a thousand George Zimmermans in that side view mirror.

You see, for all of the time that I spent as the only black guy in that CIC gang, that plump fellow was one of the kindest of all of my shipmates. People talked about him behind his back, too. I had experienced no problem with him, other than that one look in his eyes when he stared down upon my dark face as I sat in that automobile. That’s when he made it clear to me that I was not welcome in his conclave.

Yet I never judged our gated community dweller as a direct racist. No, not even to this day. The message that he sent is the same message that many others like him have sent me in many areas of my life — and probably some of yours, too.

I can still read the message that his nervously blinking eyes and low groans telegraphed on that day outside of the pinkish walls. “I am not a bigot,” they said. “But once I am inside of those walls, I have to be accepted by the others therein who look like me; and many of them, if not most, unfortunately, are bigots.”

No matter how the Zimmerman case turns out, Zimmerman will have to look into some proverbial mirror for the rest of his life and see himself. We all have to. Therefore, I’ll rest in his being his own judge of self-character, and by the court’s decision.

Let’s pray that we all continue to change for the better.

Contact Ken Hamilton at kenhamilton930@aol.com.

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