Well, why don’t you go back to Africa?

Yesterday, we went and visited some friends in Manahawkin. Manahawkin is a city on the bay a few miles north of here.  Yesterday, the weather was kinda chilly on the bay.  We went because our friends decided to cook out on the barbeque grill and invited us up to their house for dinner.

We talked about my recent trip to Senegal, West Africa and my wife’s trip to Georgia.  So, we all had our little drinks out on the back porch enjoying chips and pleasant conversation when it suddenly got too chilly to be pleasant.  We decided to go back inside to take advantage of indoor living.  After I finished my beer I was offered another beer which I declined.  I wanted some water.  I wanted some cool water.  I didn’t want too much ice in the water because I still had a little chill on me from just coming in from outside.  When the water glass was handed to me it had a little too much ice in it.  So I said, “That’s too much ice!”.  We have a good relationship with our friends so we can joke around and be direct without hurting each other’s feelings.  I knew that my comment wouldn’t be taken harshly.

My host, quick as a flash said, “Well, why don’t you go back to Africa.”

pause to think before I spit venom

My brain raced to comprehend what he just said to me.
... Did he tell me to go back to Africa?…
... Am I about to start on some long discussion about how this country’s existence is borne on the blood of the land’s indigenous people? ...
... What did he really mean? ...
... Should I be offended? ...
... Is my friend a racist, cracker? ...

I’m ready to begin

I look over at my wife and her eyes are rolling around in her head trying to make sense of the statement we just heard.
I look at at his wife and she is looking at him.
I look at his mother-in-law and she is looking at me.
I look at my daughter and she is playing with her toy giraffe.
I look back at my wife and I start laughing.
Then my wife starts laughing.
Then his wife starts laughing and then all of us are laughing at his comment.

Noone can believe what he just said, but yet everyone is laughing.

Why are we laughing?  Well, first of all, we know that we can laugh and joke without recourse.  They also just finished listening to me discuss my two week vacation in Senegal and how pleasant the weather was.  I told them about how I was treated like a very important guest in my friend Mamadou’s home and how his family went overboard making sure that I was comfortable.  Everything I needed, or wanted, in Senegal was offered as quickly as it could be.

Well, our friend in Manahawkin joked that if service in the Manahawkin, USA was so pitiful then maybe I should just go back to Rufisque, Senegal where my “other” friends treated me so much better than he and his wife.  It just happened to come out, “Well, why don’t you go back to Africa?” I’m sure that if the story had been about Peru’, South America, he would have said, “Well, why don’t you go back to Peru’?”

Of course I couldn’t let him have the last word.  I had to make him think about what he just said to me.  I said, “I know all your life that you’ve been waiting to say that to a Black person’s face to see what kind of response you’d get.” I continued, “How does that make you feel now, Mr. Redneck?”

Our laughter escalated to the point where I had to wipe my eyes with my napkin.  Somebody started to cough because they were laughing so hard.

Anyway, dinner was good.  Our friends are crazy.

And yes, people in Africa have ice too.

Posted by SPN on 06/05 at 08:46 AM in Personal

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