America and the Pain of Prejudice

Yesterday, mid-morning, I emerged from a take-out restaurant appear a parking lot, walking through the basement breadth of the alfresco dining plaza. There, I encountered a acrimonious angle up barter of words amid two men. One of the men was allotment of a accumulation of 4 or 5 men built-in or continuing nearby.

I saw it was a actual affronted exchange, and at aboriginal anticipation to airing anon to my car. But I slowed in curiosity. A arcade centermost aegis man, white, thin, about age 60 or 65, in his badge, atramentous belt and abbreviate sleeved white shirt had his hand, accessible palm, inches from the face of the man in foreground of him. He stood there, imperious, clothed in authority, calm and unrelenting. Move on. Leave this area. The temperature was rising.

The man and his assembly were all of average eastern descent, possibly Persian, mostly 40s or 50s in age, accurately dressed.

The aegis man assuredly answered the added man’s loud, agitated question: “Why can’t we sit here? Look around. Others sit here. This is a accessible space. Why don’t we accept a appropriate to sit actuality and alcohol our coffee like added people?”

“Because you’re loitering.” I looked around. White humans were built-in in the aforementioned area.

I absolved up to the two. “Calm down,” I said. I motioned to the aegis man and said: “Back away.” He would not. He was like a white hot abiding aqueous bar of stubbornness. His antagonist was aswell so abounding with adrenaline that he would not or could not listen. He angry to me. Which, on absorption was fine. He was now not bound into he aegis guard, and beneath acceptable to bandy a punch. His loudness and acrimony seemed unabated. I let the man speak, just listening. “Just accord yourself a few abnormal to calm down,” I said, advantageous to get those words in. In the meantime, his assembly began to yield smartphone videos and pictures of the situation. I capital to alarm the badge afore the amount angry absolutely animal rather than after. Of course, my adaptable buzz was dead.

Clearly, I was not traveling to defuse this bearings if it was the aegis bouncer with his antic allegation of dabbling who always fueled the fires with his affirmation that the men disperse. I absolved appear my car, and out of nowhere, the man to whom I had announced was there in the parking lot. He had absolved abroad from the battle acknowledge God. We spoke. “Didn’t we accept the appropriate to sit there? Who was he to acquaint us we had to move? We were just sitting, bubbler our coffee like anybody else.” His acrimony now betrayed a cast of aching and confusion. “He can’t do this. This is America.” He batten this about like a child, his articulation with its average eastern emphasis appearing to me in that moment to be the accurate articulation of America. I put my duke on his shoulder. “I understand. The man is prejudiced. He has a problem. He is not the America a lot of of us accept in.” A few yards away, loud words were still getting exchanged. The idiot bouncer seemed to accept his anxiety buried in concrete.

As I collection away, I replayed the scene. The man’s words “This is America,” were branded into my heart. I acquainted accessible to cry. Why did I feel so strongly, I wondered? Where did the man’s hurt, and now mine, appear from? It came from this abstraction of “America.” In a apple of bigoted and religious hatreds, “America” was to be something different. It was to be a abode of alone worth, political liberties, adequation of opportunity, and abandon aural the borders of just laws. The average eastern man was ambrosial to an idea.

This abstraction of America was something both absolute and amorphous. It was unspoken, but it was there, like a active affair of aerial beauty. If the algid wind of ageism comes aloft it, it releases aboriginal anger, again a branch of abysmal sadness. I acquainted the man’s acrimony and affliction because we aggregate this adored idea. Instinctively, I knew that if the abstraction did not administer to him, it activated to none of us. The abstraction was something to be protected. Passion for this abstraction was appropriate and good. I accepted the anamnesis of the morning, and accepted a new boldness to action for my clients.