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Some Of My Best Friends Are . . .Tall!

March 6, 2014

The white kid really looked like he was going to get away. He had a 50 yard lead on the large black guy chasing him through the upscale area of Bellevue, Washington. The white guy was running out of the park and seemed to be headed around the east side of Bellevue Square mall.

But as he sprinted toward the corner he seemed to start to lose steam. The black guy was about 6’5″ and was still coming on strong. He finally caught him as the white guy got caught by the no-walk sign.

The two women with baby strollers waiting for the light edged a little farther away and looked like they were seriously considering simply walking away. No one wanted to be caught up in a potential fight. And the little guy looked like he would have no shot against the black man who’d just chased him down.

This portion of Bellevue was both upscale and pretty racially monolithic. A black man was an unusual sight. One chasing a white guy was even more noteworthy.

My coworkers and I arrived at the corner as the two runners and the ladies with strollers were still waiting on the light. The short white guy flashed us a grin as we jogged up.

Hope we didn’t scare anybody.

The black guy looked at him. Was he annoyed?

What do you mean?

I mean some skinny white guy being chased by a . . .

Oh yeah? By a what?

Ah. . .by a tall person.

We all started to jump in.

Not that I’ve got anything against tall people!

I don’t have anything against tall people!

Some of my best friends are tall!

I saw the two ladies visually relax as they realized we all knew each other. They were even smiling by the time the light changed and we all took off running again to get back to our work at Microsoft before our lunch hour was up.

To this day, I joke with CK about my “tall” friends.

The last couple of blog entries have talked a little about racism. (I Was Doing Okay Until That Guy Hit Me With An Axe Handle, and You’re Making The Other Shoppers Nervous) The stories revolve around my time at Microsoft for two reasons. First, is that the IT world has very few black people in it. CK and I were talking recently about a mutual friend who we’d worked with at Microsoft. The friend had recently passed away and I was trying to place his face.

You remember CJ.

I’m not sure I do.

Sure you do. He was the other black guy in support!

Oh, him.

The second reason is that it was at Microsoft that I met CK. He remains my dearest friend in the world. It’s not that I hadn’t been around black people. My high school, while predominately white had a number of black students. The most famous was probably Ron Holmes, who went on to play professional football with Tampa Bay, and Denver including starting in Super Bowl XXIV.

And I spent two years in south Chicago as a missionary for the LDS Church. I worked in black neighborhoods every day. But, being friends with CK, I could ask him question that might be embarrassing or considered offensive if I asked someone who I didn’t know well. One of the first questions I asked about was swimming.

Can black people swim?

What?!?

No, I mean is there something about their genetics that makes them less about to . . .you know. . . float. . . and . . .stuff?

By the time I finished, his face had passed through surprise, (a little) anger, disgust and finally humor.

Rodney, I swim like a fish. Why would you even ask that?

Well, in the Olympics you rarely see black swimmers. The only one I ever saw was from Nigeria or somewhere. He finished like 2 minutes behind the other swimmers and it really looked like he might be in danger of drowning. Just wondered if it was genetic.

Economics.

Say what?

Black people don’t swim because of economics. Not a lot of public pools in many black neighborhoods. Add in the fact that if your parents don’t swim, it’s unlikely you’ll learn and you have an entire group that doesn’t swim. And it really messes black women’s hair, if they’ve had it straightened.

Some of my readers may be saying, “What a dweeb Rodney is to have for a friend.” But, I figured if CK was around, why not pick his brain?

Several years later my wife and I were considering adopting a black child. I went to talk to CK.

We’re thinking about adopting.

Hey, that’s great.

The agency asked us if we had any preferences about race.

And?

Well, I’m not sure.

Oh. . .

Do you think I could parent a black child? I would worry I couldn’t teach him enough about his birth culture.

Rodney?

Yeah?

You’ll do fine. Trust me. I have no doubt.There’s just one thing.

Yeah?

Don’t teach him to be colorblind. The world is not colorblind. If you raise him to think it is, he’s going to be severely handicapped as an young adult.

I understood better what CK meant a couple years later as we were talking about how out of control political correctness had become in regards to race.

If you’re trying to point me to someone and I’m in a room full of other people. Don’t say, “It’s the person who sitting just to the left of the woman with the green sweater. He’s just in front of the guy with the glasses. No. Just say, “It’s the big black guy.” It’s not offensive to mention race if I’m the only black guy in the room.

Don’t raise him to be color blind.

He’s the black guy.

Or the tall guy

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children. Seven of whom are black, three of whom are Asian and three of whom are white.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

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