The winter of 1983-84 was very harsh in Chicago. After dealing with subzero temperatures and deep snow, I decided to pack up and head south. I quit a good paying job and partnered with a good friend. We left in May 1984. I started living in Macon Georgia. I thought about moving to Atlanta but I was tired of big city living and chose Macon because it was small and relatively quiet. When I settled in and started looking for a job, interacting with the people of Macon, I experienced culture shock. It seemed like I was reliving the 60’s and 70’s all over again.
I was told I was over-qualified for the positions I applied for when I applied for a job. I never really understood the over-qualified classification. Then I started seeing the disparate treatment of black people. I was standing in line at Kentucky Fried Chicken™ waiting to order. The line was pretty long and before I knew what happened, a white man stepped in front of me when I was one person away from being served. I can’t put the words I used in here, but you can imagine. I let him and the cashier know that he wasn’t going to be served before me.
In 1986 I joined the Macon Police Department (that blew my friends’ minds) and became a Patrol Officer. This would put me in the public dealing with all people. One day I was on a call and my backup was white. The one who called stopped talking to me and started talking to my backup. Another occasion I remember is when I went in a Piggly Wiggly™ Grocery Store one day while I was off duty. A store manager followed me around as if I was going to steal something. A few days later I went in the store, this time in uniform and I was treated very different than when the manager saw me in plain clothes. I purchased a brand new vehicle because the 1979 AMC Hornet I drove died. One day I was stopped at a traffic light when a pickup truck with red clay mud caked on the sides pulled up besides me. The passenger got my attention and said; “Nice truck.” I said thank you and he said; “I bet you got a lot of women giving you food stamps to keep it.” Normally I would have a comeback but I was amazed at the ignorance of the man.
One year I thought I had a chance to get even. I was part of the crowd control squad and we were called out because the Klu Klux Klan was going to have a rally in downtown Macon. There was a threat of violence. I vowed to the officers that if we tangled with them I was going to snatch me a hood and have it mounted. I never got the chance because they canceled the rally.
I still live in Macon and have learned valuable lessons, the same as I did in my childhood living up north. People would be amazed when I told them some people in Chicago were just as racist as the people in Macon. I told them the difference between the two is up north it was subtle. In the south you knew how a person felt about you because they went out of their way to show it.
One day I met the Lord and shortly afterwards, the hatred began to melt away.
Next article: I Used To Be A Racist pt. 5 – Never Again!