I can’t talk about Lexington without mentioning some of the culture-shocking encounters. Between you and me Hillbillies are naturally funny. This one incident stuck with me. It was the first time I had to reassure anyone of my “blackness”. I was working at a toy store when this blue haired white woman dressed like a dame in her lacy white blouse and dark blue skirt walked past me. She went to the aisle with dolls and surveyed the shelves, then looked round. I saw in her face that she was hesitant to ask me any questions, but had no choice. I was the only worker on the floor at the time. She wanted a doll but all we had was the black ones. The shear look of dismay in her eyes was hysterical. I thought here is an opportunity to have some real fun. I was mean like that. I asked her if I could help her in any way. I was sweet like brown sugar with a big smile on my face. Hell I had to show them tropical teeth.
I saw the stressful look on her face disappear when she realized I had an accent. Confidence seeped into her expression as she asked me if we had any of the white dolls, but it took her a couple of seconds before she stuttered the word white. After I told her that all we had was the black ones, she turned to walk away, but stopped. She looked at me and told me that I was not one of them. I looked at her, her blue eyes a little red with age and asked who was the “them” she was talking about. She looked perplexed at my question, then leaned into me, her eyes tilted upwards. She told me in a strange whisper that I was not black. I looked around. Was there some ethnicity god around? Did she think he would smite her down if he heard? I told her I was not from The City of Golden Streets, but as god is my witness I was black. She looked flabbergasted for a second as if surprised that I would admit to being black; she insisted that I was not black, but foreign. I asked her what she thought being black meant? She did not answer so I proceeded to explain to her by using a Peter Tosh song lyric: “No matter where you come from as long as you are black, you are African.” She looked at me, puzzled. I mean, what was I thinking? This poor lady did not have any clue who Peter Tosh was.
I could tell by the look on her face that I succeeded in totally confusing her. She was quiet for a second and then insisted again that I was not black. I was at my wits end. The perplexed look on her face only helped with my growing impatience. I looked around the store and decided to illustrate my blackness emphatically by using the only thing that most white people here seemed to believe about black men. I reached down and started unzipping my pants. Hell, if she did not want to listen to reasoning, I was going to show her. She turned around and ran for the door, her face red as a beet, her little legs churning like a propeller. I was surprised she did not report me to the bosses, or worse, call the cops. Can you imagine the headlines: “Former Basketball Player At Christian College Arrested For Attempted Indecent Exposure”?