Our senior prank was supposed to be us creating a sign that said something about “Chieftains, no wolves allowed.” (been a little while) We cased the school grounds, knew when security would come and leave- real Mission Impossible. A couple of years before , don’t quite remember which senior class, but their work was messy, left too many clues, and ultimately got caught. We were ready!
We rode around and then entered by the baseball field. It was raining, pitch black, and cold so we went to take cover in the green equipment shack. We were there for a few minutes, when in comes two gentleman from the apartments located above the school. One was a guy that many of my peers remembered from junior high. The guy had a deep southern drawl, which was something at the time that I steered clear of. You see at that point, most movies that I watched related to the Civil Rights Movement usually had some white gentleman with a southern drawl using the word “nigger.” It was the way that it would roll off of their tongues that caused the sound to be etched into my brain. Everyone greeted him, except me. Then he said,“ what are the niggers doing at West Rome?” He said it repeatedly. In hindsight I can testify to the power of love. Even while typing this I am reliving the feeling that I got when my friends grabbed me to comfort me, corrected him, then to have him apologize and the guy with him shake my hand and apologize topped it off. He was drunk but what he spoke could have been what he really felt. My goal in life was not to find every white person that used the “N word” and make them stop, but to simply be such a nice guy to people that they would refrain from using it around me or anyone person of color. I thought that if they saw an image contrary to what the media had painted then there would be acceptance.
The next day at school (well the same day we were up all night) everyone apologized for the guy when they did not have to. Again, the love was powerful in that moment. No fighting or arguing was necessary.