Republicans in hiding, Democrats on the surface
Storytelling: How Black Liberals figure out who is really on their side
Beer and the opening theme of “Cheers” has been on my mind a lot this past week. I don’t like the taste of beer. Never have. Whiskey sours have been my go-to since 1999. (Don’t bother with the math. No, I wasn’t 21.) It’s not really the beer that’s been on my mind though; it’s hanging out in bars. I’ve been to enough of them, especially after a yearlong volunteer gig.
I was the host for a monthly storytelling series, and anywhere from five to 40 people would gather in a back room to tell stories about damn near any topic you could think of. Most of the stories were Liberal leaning or all about their love lives, but when I visited other bars where I wasn’t the host, I’d notice a change in tune. I raised an eyebrow at the difference in some content when the black lady host wasn’t doing the introducing.
There was the guy who told a story about killing babies during the time he was at war. I was speechless after that one, but I was even less prepared for him to beeline toward me to start talking about how he’s not racist — when absolutely no one in the entire bar said he was.
There was the second guy who talked about “black people moving into [my] neighborhood” followed by another story rambling on about “Aryan blood.” (He later claimed he said “European blood.” Same difference.) He also made a point of learning my name and for reasons I’ll never know, immediately wanted to introduce himself to my parents (who were with me at one bar).
I didn’t even bat an eye when a third storyteller had the real name of a very well-known Confederate General. Interestingly, minus the creator of this storytelling series (who I absolutely support and respect, and always told the best stories), the latter guy was oddly one of the nicest people I met throughout the entire year of hosting. That is, until he found out I took issue with the “Aryan blood” story. Then he stopped coming to my storytelling nights.
I like storytelling. It gives me insight into people’s worlds about topics they may not share with me otherwise. If you sit back quietly and just let people talk, they’ll tell you everything you need to know without even bothering to press them. Sometimes it’s the folks you already don’t trust that confirm your hesitation; other times it’s a story that makes you want to befriend someone more. Then there are those stories in between.