I found this article on my computer tonight and sadly, nothing has changed in America. It was originally published by the Charlotte Observer on the opinion page.
This past weekend, April 16-19, 2009, my husband and I went to Las Vegas to celebrate my fortieth birthday. We were having a blast until just hours before our departure, we were reminded that we were, or shall I say, are black in America.
It was around midnight when the girls, yes, I’ll say girls, next door began to have a little fun of their own. They screamed and woo hoo’d to the top of their lungs. All we wanted were a few hours of sleep before our early morning wake-up time of five o’clock in order to make our eight o’clock flight. Despite the first report to security and the subsequent visit from an officer to tone it down, they continued their antics as if they were still on the Las Vegas strip. After dozing slightly, I was jolted by a blood-curdling scream, then loud laughter. My husband, being a man who tolerates not even the slightest bit of foolishness, yelled to the top of his lungs, “SHUT UP!”
I can only imagine this was just the fuel these girls needed to make our last hours in Las Vegas unforgettable. They seemingly, on the count of three, screamed to the top of their lungs once again, and began a rendition of “Happy Birthday” that I will never forget. During the last verse of the song, someone shouted out “F*** you, n*****.”
To my surprise, my husband didn’t say a word.
I wasn’t inclined to dismiss it, but as I stated earlier, he is a man who tolerates no foolishness and I didn’t want to make a bad situation worse by him reacting like I truly wanted to. After a few more blood curdling screams, he handed me the hotel phone and told me to call the front desk. I knew this meant, “Baby, you better handle this one because you certainly don’t want me to.” I was quickly transferred to security who assured me they had already made a trip next door and thought the situation had been taken care of. When I told them of the most recent activity, including having a racial slur hurled at us through the drywall, the security officer reacted by saying, “You’re kidding?” I assured him that I would not “kid” about something like that. Shortly after the phone conversation, I could hear someone knocking next door, and the noise quickly subsided. A few short hours later, we packed and left to return to North Carolina.
Did the girls see us as we walked the halls of the hotel? I don’t remember ever seeing neighbors next door. Did they overhear us through the walls and assume we were n*****s, by the tone of our voices? Did they just assume we were some stupid black folks who probably had no right to even be in the hotel? Of course they had no idea that the financial director of a major US corporation and a successful Christian fiction author were next door. They had no idea that we were praying people, whom God highly favored. To them, they assumed we had brown skin and in their eyes were n*****s.
This is not a hotel problem, I understand that. If they hadn’t responded, then yes, this would be a different kind of article. But this is a people problem. In an instant, I was transported to the year 1976 when a white little girl, I still remember her name and what she looked like, told me I wasn’t invited to her birthday party after she’d passed out all of the invitations to other classmates. When asked why, she said her mom didn’t like n*****. As a seven-year-old child, that hurt. It wasn’t until my mom explained the whole racial dynamic between “us and them” that I really understood. If my memory serves me correctly, it prompted a visit from my mother to the school as well because her daughter is not a n*****.
I typed this as more of a therapeutic exercise for me than anything else. But I want you to be reminded that yes, we have made some huge strides—leaps and bounds actually, in this country, but we have a long way to go. We weren’t rudely awakened this past weekend, but rudely reminded of the color of our skin.
Daphine Glenn Robinson
Human Resource Manager
BUT NOT A N*****!