Growing up in a small town in the rural south, I encountered my fair share of interesting characters. One guy that I’d occasionally see around was known as “White Boy”. He was a huge guy with a huge chip on his shoulder. He was intimidating. He used to fight a lot. I never saw him smile. We weren’t friends.
White Boy came by his attitude honestly. He was actually African American. He also happened to be an albino. This made him the subject of ridicule from all sides.
As an African American in the South, he was already treated like crap by a huge segment of the population. But his albinism meant that he didn’t fit in with African Americans, either. I don’t know who started calling him White Boy, but no one seemed to know him by any other name. I wonder how he felt about that.
I can’t even begin to imagine what his life was like. I just knew that he was angry. As far as I was concerned, this made him one to be avoided. So that’s what I did.
A true test of one’s character is how one treats those who happen to cross one’s path. Looking back, I’m ashamed that I never learned White Boy’s name. I’m ashamed I never gave him a chance. I’m ashamed that I stared at him and avoided him, basically treating him as I would a strange and dangerous animal in a zoo. I never called him names or bothered him in any way. I just kept him trapped on the other side of the glass. That was cruel enough.
I have absolutely no excuse for my conduct, other than the fact that I was in my early teens, and no one was modeling better behavior. At the time, it didn’t occur to me to choose another path. That particular defining moment in my life is one of my everlasting regrets.
Wherever Wh… wherever that fellow human being is today, I hope he found, and continues to find, reasons to smile.
A big thanks to StoryCorps for inspiring this blog and my first book. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5