How Does a “wrong number” Call Turn Into a Racial Discrimination Argument?
I look down at my cell phone after having taken the pups out to pee for the night and look down at my cell phone and notice I had a missed call. Well at this time of night, 11:30 pm, with my 19 year old son on the roads, although the number is unrecognizable, a mom has all kinds of thoughts run through her mind. Did he wreck, and is hurt bad and someone that’s with him is having to call me from a number that I do not recognize, or worse Oh God, is it “the call” from a MS State Trooper — I knew he was on an Interstate coming home from a festival — and Mr. Trooper would say to get to such in such Hospital as fast as I could, that there’s probably not much time? The dreaded late night call for all parents. So what do you do? Of course you call it back. Insides shaking with fear, praying fervently and making deals with God as the phone rings and rings…. And rings, you get the picture. 30 seconds felt like a year to me. Finally a bold “HELLO!”. He sounded angry, already, which changed my mood instantly from fear to realizing exactly what had happened, a wrong number. Well, I’m not the type to catch more flies with honey, not always, and not tonight AND certainly not after what my anxiety and stress levels had just put me through so I said “Who is this?!” Angrier, the young man stutters out “Who, who, who just who, do you think you are calling here and acting like you’re the boss or something!”. I have to admit, that I almost cracked up laughing, not at his stutter, for it wasn’t a real medical stutter, it was meant to make a point, possibly cause a reaction, better yet, I hazard a guess that he could have just playing around and being funny, but after the day it has been, and just a short time ago or sometime earlier today commenting on a quite emotional post, regarding Racial Tensions, had me not in the mood to debate the topic with anyone, but I just knew, I could hear my still small voice saying, “Pam, you realize where this is leading, don’t you?” “Yes” with a *Huge Sigh*, I answer myself within. Continue on, I say! “What is your problem, dude?! I was calling to see who called me and it was YOU!” Well, midway of those two sentences, he had begun a rant, talking loudly over me and all I heard was “Your white ass” & “The man…” At that point my anger had grabbed ahold of all my sensibilities, anger at the fact that this man does not “know me”, know me! And I blurted out, “Whats wrong with you, ARE YOU A RACIST?”! And I hung up as fast as possible! I wasn’t ready for “that” debate. A wrong number. I just sat there, blank stare, anger washing away. Suddenly, one of the most intense feelings to write, that I’ve almost ever felt washed over me. I had to write. What has humankind come to? A heated argument, regarding one of the biggest hot buttons of our generation, racism, had just become my reality, with a person who had innocently dialed the wrong number? Any other time, I’m best friends with the caller, who accidentally dialed me, instead of their buddy or mom or spouse, by the time the wrong number call was over. Heck, once, in my single days, I even got a date out of the basic “Whoops, wrong number”! Why did it have to go so wrong, no pun intended, this time? Sadness came upon me like the crash of the ocean waves. Next time, I told myself, I’ll just push it to Voicemail. Then, a voice, “It went so wrong, Pamela, because America has gone so terribly wrong”, said the Still Small Voice”.
It is always in my life, that such ridiculousness happens. Never a friend, a family member, no, always me, getting called out, and if you knew me, truly knew me , well, this kind of thing is just not in my nature. I’m a lover, not a fighter. Lately, I’ve noticed, it has happened more than often, but when I take count of the kind, happy and genuine conversations in the world around me, or the ones I have or I see or I hear, between the races, there’s hope. Hope that we do not revert back to the days, the horrific days of the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th Century. I have to have hope.
The irony of this specific instance, which it was such a short amount of time, that I can only call it an instance, in my life is that I’ve said for many years had I been born just 18–25 years before 1967, and grew up in the same state that I did grow up in, moreover the State of Alabama, City of Montgomery, where I spent three years of my young adult life, I know, deep in my heart and soul that I’d most likely not have lived a very long life. Not many black sympathizers did in North Mississippi & Alabama, especially in Montgomery, being a WHITE and YOUNG and FEMALE and a black sympathizer? Nope, my mouth is loud, my temper - a furious one and no one could have stopped me from locking arms with other young adult black and white civil rights activists and taking that infamous march with MLK and Company from Selma to Montgomery in 1967. I dream. I dream of what our Nation might be like today, had that fateful night in Memphis never happened.