What White People Do

Blood-curdling screams wake us in the middle of the seventy degree night. We call the doorman. We call 911. A lot of mother-fuckin’s shreik up the side of the building and yaw into our open windows. We look out, say, Oh, it’s Black people. Stay out of it. Next day in the laundry room we hear, A Black girl stabbed her boyfriend on our corner. On our corner? How do we know it was her boyfriend? What else would it be? Her pimp? We hear it. We repeat it. The pimp got stabbed on the corner.

We watch a crazy guy with no shoes keening mother-fuckers on the Magnificent Mile sidewalk frightening white shoppers. We say, Oh he’s that dirty Brown guy. He’s always around. He’ll find his way. We cross the street.

Before the sun drops behind the high rises on the west side we walk our dogs in the park. We notice a commotion in the bushes. We peek. Two Black men screwing. We run across the street and snitch to the Drake Hotel doorman, each of us bumbling over white words for the deed. Animals, the doorman says, Stay out of it. At the coffee shop we laugh about the out-of-town hotel guests looking out their windows at such a sight in broad daylight.

In the elevator we talk about the nice Black couple who moved into dead Mrs. Smith’s unit. We think they are so well-dressed, so articulate, not like other Black people. We wonder if they know the Black family in unit 2507. We think this. We say this.

The church asks us to fill out a Racial Equity Survey. Huh? We look at each other, look around at the hundreds gathered on Sunday morning. We see three Black people. No Black families. Do we see racial inequity in the church? How are we to answer?

We hear a Black preacher on inter-faith night. He talks about racism. Racism ended when we elected President Obama, right? We think this. We say this. To the Black 51dKjqBeeuL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_preacher. We thought the Black preacher would talk about his faith journey, but he talked about his Black journey. We lose interest.

On President’s Day we trudge down the street in our Uggs slippin’ and slidin’ on the street in front of the white church. We help a woman who falls into the fretted wrought iron fence. We use our white cuss words. Damn it, why don’t they shovel the sidewalk? Oh, you know, their Black workers hate the cold. We think this. We say this. We repeat this.

We haul old white bones onto the bus with our canes and walkers and shopping bags. No seats. A Black woman in her Sheraton Hotel housekeeper uniform jumps out of her seat, yells at two fully-formed white dudes. Get your motherfuckin asses up. Don’t you have any respect for your elders?

And we are reminded. Black people take care of us. Have always taken care of us.

 

7 thoughts on “What White People Do

  1. Great! Caroline

    On Mon, Sep 23, 2019 at 11:07 PM Back Story Essays wrote:

    > Regan Burke posted: “Blood-curdling screams wake us in the middle of the > seventy degree night. We call the doorman. We call 911. A lot of > mother-fuckin’s shreik up the side of the building and yaw into our open > windows. We look out, say, Oh, it’s Black people. Stay out of it.” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So true. And so much to think about. This piece also taught me a new verb: keening. Had to look it up. Means Wailing. Which I should be doing more of, considering all the wrongful murders of young people of color here in Chicago.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The injustice … the vengence … where would you end this, Regan? I loved your last sentence, and today’s Richard Rohr post, “One Life, One Death, One Suffering” offers our only hope.

    Liked by 2 people

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