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I’ve Never Had a Hero June 6, 2008

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
Tags: , , , ,

I won’t say I had a terrible childhood, but it was pretty funky. My parents, like a lot of parents, I guess, were not real good role models. Luckily for me, instead of staying angry about it, I sort of moved on and figured it all out, and I’m doing okay these days, even under this economy.


But still, when I was a teenager, I didn’t have posters of anyone. Not even Farrah Fawcett. No sports stars, nobody. No posters. Period.

There are good reasons for this.

I was raised by racists.

I rejected them early. My own parents. I rejected them, and all their heroes. Ike, General Macarthur. Patton.

It was not easy. It still makes my stomach sick with acid when I think about it, but it’s all true. I mean, I knew my dad suffered madly when he saw “those nips” jump off the cliffs at Iwo Jima. It was hard for me to argue that maybe there was no correlation between his heroism and his prejudice.

I remember when I was about 12, I stood up during dinner and screamed at my mother about her racism. Her wooden spoon, which she had used previously to control me, no longer worked, and she was shocked at my disregard for her feelings.

“But the blackies beat me up when I went to school,” she would say.

To this day, I don’t know why I never bought into that story. I just knew, somehow, that there was another side to her tale.

When I was about 14 or 15, my best friend was a black kid named Walt who was about the size of a house, and my mother, when she first saw him, grabbed the kitchen counter to hold herself steady. It was obvious she was praying I didn’t know him in any way.

Me and Walt went to see the Exorcist:

I am pretty sure that Walt held me closer than I held him, but the bottom line is that it was my first foray into that terrible world of Black America, and it wasn’t the difference in our colors that scared the shit out of us. We became best friends for awhile.

After that, I had quite a few more encounters with African Americans. As time went on, and I got older, and drifted away from what little I knew of the African American experience, my little white mind came to a conclusion about black people that may not be PC. I discovered, along my piddling road shared with blacks, that a black man (and maybe woman but I don’t know that personally) is the best friend you can ever have.

It may not be PC to say this, but a black dude, once he trusts you, loves you unconditionally. When you betray him in some way, the hurt on his face ripples across the universe. You can see, in his eyes, the betrayal skip across the stars as if you have insulted the universe itself.

I learned that early, and black people have taught me much. They’ve taught me not to get scared when stupid things in my stupid white collar job go wrong. They’ve taught me to dance, and sing, and to think, mostly, mostly, to think.

I have never had a hero. I am almost 50 years old.

I finally have a hero.

I’m just a stupid white man, who has fallen in love with a black man. It’s not about guilt. It’s about something that black men can give me that I can’t give to myself.


1. Miquel Brazil - November 7, 2008

I don’t comment on people’s blogs much. I prefer to be a technological voyeur. However, this post was one of the most honest and beautiful things I have read in recent memory. As a Black man, I don’t know if all Black men feel that level of disappointment when their trust has been compromised (and I don’t think you were intending to make a sweeping generalization)…but this Black man does find himself disappointed in those times. Interestingly enough, I have often thought that friendship with White people was similar, that it took much to move them to trust me as a Black man but once they did it was something to be cherished. Many times I was well aware that the close friendships I’ve had with some White people was motivated by some sort of guilt on their part. Other times, however, it was something genuine and real – those are the ones that I remember and cherish the best.

Thank you for writing this.

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