Kim is black.
When I say black, I mean black — not brown, caramel, mocha, honey, or “high-yellow.” Black like starless midnight or India ink. Ethiopian black. I only mention that because it matters, whether you are in east Alabama, New Orleans, Mexico, or probably even the African continent. The lighter the skin the better, at least culturally. I didn’t make that rule. It’s been that way from the get go.
Kim works second shift at the convenience store where I buy gas. It’s about a mile from my house, so she knows where I live. We maintain a running dialogue of complete foolishness. I call her “Dark Chocolate” and she sometimes calls me “Cracker.”
Is this little essay making you uncomfortable? If you follow the ridiculous notion of “political correctness” it probably is.
But trust me on this one — it’s all good with me and Kim. We both have mirrors at home, and we both accept who and what we are. She doesn’t refer to herself as “African-American” and I don’t call myself “English-American.” We’re both from Alabama. If we’re comfortable with it then maybe you should be too.
Kim and I enjoy our meaningless banter. She is a fan of the University of Alabama football team and I went to Auburn, so that gives us plenty of material most of the year. But we also discuss politics, business, and cultural differences between our two races.
Just like me, Kim is not a fan of government. She doesn’t like the current Administration. She didn’t vote for Obama — wouldn’t have if she could have. She’s not allowed to vote because she is a convicted felon.
It seems that Kim got caught with a quantity of drugs that the law deemed more than simple possession. More like “possession with intent to distribute.” She spent a couple of years in the big house (her phrase) for that. She was innocent — but then again, we all are. It’s been that way from the get go, too.
I’ve learned a thing or two from Kim.
Kim: “I see you got you a new television.”
Me: “I did. How did you know that?”
Kim: “You put the box out right out on the street for the trash truck. You just advertising for every crack-head that drives by — here it is, come get it.”
On my grand-daughter, arriving in November:
Kim: “What you’ll going to name that child?”
Me: “They’ve decided to name her Katherine, but they’re going to call her Kate.”
Kim: “No baby, that ain’t gonna do. You white folks got no talent when it comes to thinking up names. You need more vowels to give a name some music. Tell your son and his wife to come down here and I’ll help them put something together.”
Me: “Check-out that guy at the gas pump. That’s a nice ride he’s got. Maybe you should go out with him.”
Kim: “No. I know him. He ain’t got no money. I don’t need another broke nigger to support. That’s what got me in trouble the first time.”
On religion, one Sunday morning:
Me: “That guy looks like he’s headed to church. Too bad you’re working today — you could go with him.”
Kim: “I ain’t interested in sitting up in there with a bunch of hypocrites.”
Me: “Well I can’t see that one more will make much difference.”
Kim: “I actually tried to go to his church when I got out (of prison). I was gonna make a new start and all, and it is my community church. They stopped me at the door and told me that ‘they would prefer I not attend their church.’ So that’s it for me and church.”
Maybe there is a difference between black and white after all.
Most of the white church folks I know would have let her in but ignored her until she finally gave up and went away.