McClellan: Sick of white people, sick of black people

2013-07-22T03:30:00Z 2013-07-25T19:35:07Z McClellan: Sick of white people, sick of black peopleBy Bill McClellan bmcclellan@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8143 stltoday.com

I’m sick of white people. I’m sick of their whining. I’m sick of telephone calls defending George Zimmerman. A very angry white guy called and asked, “What would you have done if you had been in his position, getting your head bashed into the sidewalk?”

I said I wouldn’t have been in that position. I wouldn’t have ignored the police dispatcher who told me not to follow some kid. I wouldn’t have gotten out of my car and gone into the dark looking for the kid.

“You’re not answering my question! What would you have done in his position?” By now, the man was shouting.

The odd thing about the man’s anger is that Zimmerman was acquitted. You’d think the guy would have been happy. His side won. But he was angry with me because I had written that the verdict surprised me. I had figured Zimmerman would be convicted of something. After all, Trayvon Martin left his dad’s house to go to a convenience store. He didn’t rob the place. He bought something.

Zimmerman saw him walking back to his dad’s house, and decided he was a “blanking punk.” He followed him. Martin didn’t drag Zimmerman out of the car. Zimmerman got out of the car of his own accord to look for Martin. The armed man who initiated the confrontation killed the unarmed man. Seems to me he’d be guilty of something.

That thinking angered a lot of white people. Really, really angered them. Why? I remember when O.J. Simpson was acquitted. A lot of black people celebrated — the old City Jail nearly came off its foundations — but at least the people celebrating didn’t expect everybody else to share their joy. It was enough that their side won.

But I’m sick of black people, too. I’m sick of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. I’m sick of Eric Holder. I’m sick of hearing that the feds are considering charges. The jury has spoken. If the Martin family wants to file a civil lawsuit, they ought to do it. That should be the end of it. I’m sick of rallies.

Mainly, I’m sick of nobody trying to understand anybody else. White people can’t understand why black people are upset about the verdict. Black people can’t understand why white people don’t want black students from failing districts to come to their schools.

A lot of black people were — still are — upset with me because I understand. I suppose I could pretend I don’t, but I do. A lot of white people want to live an “Ozzie & Harriet” lifestyle. “Leave it to Beaver” sounds good, too. You know how many blacks were on those shows? How many gays? Maybe you can’t live like that in 2013, but it sounds good to some folks.

I’m not sick of Asians. Maybe I ought to apply for membership in that tribe. But I almost certainly wouldn’t be accepted. I don’t have the math gene. Or maybe it’s a hard-work gene. I don’t have that, either.

Perhaps the Latinos will take me. I’m not sick of them. I think I could fit in. In fact, I had a tryout of sorts once. Before I moved to St. Louis, I spent a few months in Mexico. I lived in a boarding house in Colima.

The economy was bad. The government was the employer of last resort, and most of the fellows who lived in the boarding house had half-jobs. If a guy worked at the water department, he might work from 9 to 1. Then somebody else would work that job from 3 to 7. So everybody had a lot of free time.

We all had small rooms around a central courtyard. Two older sisters owned the place, and they bought bunches of bananas that they would hang from the rafters in the courtyard. We were allowed to eat them. We’d sit in the courtyard drinking beer and eating bananas. I got along fine with the other residents, but they often made fun of my Spanish.

I lived very cheaply. I had no car nor any need for one. I had taken the train to Guadalajara and then a bus to Colima. If I was not in the courtyard eating bananas and drinking beer, I was walking around. People looked at me with great curiosity. I saw no other gringos while I was in Colima.

So, yes, I think I could fit into that tribe.

One of my most pleasant memories of my time at the boarding house is that we didn’t talk about ideology. There were no conservatives or liberals. As far as politics go, there was a general understanding that big fish eat little fish. I heard that said a lot.

Of course, it is possible that people talked about ideology and I simply didn’t understand. But that’s a good thing. I sometimes wish I didn’t understand half the stuff I hear these days.

Bill McClellan is a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Read his columns here.

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Bill McClellan

Bill McClellan worked as a reporter in Phoenix before coming to the Post-Dispatch in 1980. He was night-police reporter before becoming a columnist in 1983. He also appears on Channel 9's Donnybrook.

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