“You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:17
I was out with my supervisor and our manager this September. Now they are both White males in their early 40’s. We had attended a number of intense meetings during that week and had decided to end the day and unwind with drinks and appetizers at a trendy Creole bar/restaurant. We were having a good time, drinking, laughing, eating and discussing the success of the meetings and future objectives.A little background here before I continue with the story: My supervisor is a bit of what you would term “a redneck”. We’ve had our differences and clashes, but he and I have developed a real close working relationship. He shows me a lot of respect and whenever he goes on vacation, he gives me the opportunity to take over his responsibilities and perform his duties. He also confides in me and has recommended, as well as assisted me in getting many “choice” assignments and opportunities. My manager is also very good to me, and respects my opinion on various issues. He will publicly praise my efforts and compliments me to other managers, to the point where at time I become embarrassed. Anywayzzzz…. here we are having a good time with each other. After a while comes the time that we have to leave, as we have a hospitality event to attend, hosted by our upper management and it’s getting late. The manager let’s us know that he has paid the bill and we need to get going. Now my supervisor had been talking to this dark-skinned East Indian woman for quite some time. He is obviously “hitting” on her and is perturbed that we have to leave. My manager and I leave and are waiting at the car for him. After some time my manager, who is becoming increasingly annoyed and agitated as my supervisor is still in the bar, goes back to get him. After some time they appear and we all get into the car. There is obviously an air of tension between them. The manager is driving, my supervisor is in the passenger seat and I am in the back behind him. My supervisor is obviously annoyed and excitable that we are leaving and he says turns to our manager and says: “Why are you in such a rush to leave. Didn’t you see that I was talking to the nigger.” DAAMMMN! Silence. I was dumbfounded. It was like I got kicked in the balls. I couldn’t believe he had just said that! The shock wasn’t caused so much by what he had said, I’ve seen him display certain racist tendencies, but that he said it with me in the car! I guess he felt so comfortable with me, that he forgot that I was Black! In a sense he had achieved the state of “colour-blindness” where I was concerned! The manager also went uncomfortably silent and ghostly white. He gave my supervisor what i can only describe as “an incredulous look”… BUT didn’t say a word. My manager never made any comment to signify that what he had said was inappropriate. Once it hit my supervisor the impact of what he just “let slip out”, he tried to minimize the event by making some frivolous comment. He NEVER apologized. We drove the rest of the way in silence after that. Once we reached our destination, my supervisor came up to me and again tried to down play the whole event by stating he only used the “N” word to annoy the manager!! “WHHAATT!?” I think he was more concern that if I lodged a complaint with our human resources department, both he and the manager would be SCREWED! He never offered an apology or showed any sort of remorse for his remarks. I must admit I didn’t know what to say or do… I just stared at him, smiled and didn’t say anything. After that we never discussed the event.The experience was eye-opening for me. I told my wife and a close friend, who is also a co-worker about the incident. My wife was shocked. The supervisor had attended our wedding. My friend thought I would be justified in making a complaint. However, I felt an unnatural calm. Something within me said to stand still… take no action and wait. I began to question my lack of anger… lack of rage in regards to the incident. Normally I would have spoken up and challenge anyone who had made such a comment. I started to question if I had become, what Malcolm termed: “a house negro”. Had I become “bamboozled” and therefore so comfortable with white people, that they could make racist comments and I didn’t feel a need or urge to respond? Had I developed a “yeah massa”…. “shuffling negro” attitude…. just smile and hang my head when I and/or my “race” was disrespected? Had I become so paralyzed with fear of taking on the system of which I had become intimately apart of? Had I sold out my Black soul for the proverbial “30 pieces of silver”? All of these questions and insecurities swirled around my head…. my soul…. as a gentle voice within me…. encouraged me to stand still and wait.
So I stood still. I waited.
Three weeks ago my supervisor was dismissed for financial improprieties. My manager has promoted me to temporarily replace him.I smiled.
And they rose early in the morning and went forth into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God; so shall ye be established. Believe His prophets; so shall ye prosper.” 2 Chronicles 20:20.