In these tense times, I find myself looking for humor. I’m thinking about some jokes surrounding emergency calls. To wit:

  • A Charlotte morning radio show messed with a police officer who was trying to do a 9-1-1 public service announcement. He was just trying to say, “I’m police officer Donnie Pressley. In case of an emergency, you should dial 9-1-1.” They had the engineer remove the synch delay, which makes you sound VERY goofy. They had him try to speak faster. What came out was basically all one word: “I’mPoliceOfficerDonniePressleyInCaseOfAnEmergencyYouShouldDial9-1-1-1.”

        OK, Donnie, try to speak more slowly, the engineer says.

        “I’m…        Police…         Officer…        Donnie…       Pressley…     In…     case…            of…     an…      e-mer-gen-cy…          you…              should…        dial…              9…      1…      1…                  1.”

  • In the first scene of the movie Black Knight, Martin Lawrence encounters someone on the ground. He screams, “Call 9-1-1! White man down!!!!!”
  • Homer Simpson picks up the phone in a panic. He says, “Operator! Give me the number to 9-1-1!”
  • In an episode of Girlfriends, Toni’s mother, a recovering alcoholic, is drunk at Toni’s pre-wedding party. Joan attempts to intervene and get her to lie down. She resists, and says, “I’ll call the law! I ain’t too drunk to dial 9 1… … … 1!”

Humor is my main coping mechanism. I have been using it frequently the last few weeks as more and more incidents of police brutality come to light.

I wonder what, if anything, a person of pallor like me can do that would heal the wounds people of color (all colors) have been enduring for centuries. I’m trying to listen more. I make even more of an effort to watch my speech and strive to be kind to everyone I cross paths with. I listen to my wife when she tells of being discriminated against for absolutely no other reason but the amount of melanin in her skin.

I sit in a state of confusion as protesters seek to topple every statue that has ever been erected, because every person who has a statue was either always evil or did something terrible once, so that statue has to come down. I don’t see how toppling or removing statues is going to help, but that’s just one person’s opinion.

I wonder why I can’t come up with some brilliant, pithy words that will heal – or at the bare minimum, amuse. I read as many stories about people’s struggles as I can, hoping to expand my knowledge of what people truly go through.

I’m sure I have received the dreaded “white privilege” over time. I do think a better term for the environment in which I was raised is “sheltered” as opposed to “privilege.” I grew up in neighborhoods and towns that were about 80% white. My high school had 2,100 students, with about 80 of them being black. I’m sure most of them were discriminated against in some way. But no one ever talked about it. So it was less about being treated in a fairer manner and more about having a minuscule amount of exposure to people not being treated fairly. Either way, I know there are people of color who just see me walking down the street and assume I have been a beneficiary of privilege my whole life, that I have no idea what they go through, and probably resent me for it.

I can tell people that I have experienced some mild discrimination, especially growing up. People make assumptions about albinism just as they do with black, red, or brown skin. I was always assumed to be less intelligent, less street-wise, and less athletic (OK, fine, I’ll give you that one). Trust me, I know that’s not exactly the same. I simply wish to convey that I do know what it’s like, on some scale, to have people look at my appearance and make incorrect (and not-so-friendly) assumptions.

And as I was preparing my wife’s breakfast this morning, I had an idea. Have you ever stopped and observed how downright heavenly your home smells when bacon is cooking? If we could produce a bacon aroma in every home in America, we would have a pleasant experience in common, and maybe we could get along better.

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