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|When "Them" Become "Us" - Page 2|
At the back of the room, two gray-haired gentlemen, both wearing wired-rimmed glasses, were whispering to each other; one shook his head emphatically in agreement, with a grim smile. Trying to break the tension, I somewhat playfully asked, "So what do you guys think about all of this, back there in your corner?" Both looked slightly embarrassed and hesitant about speaking, but after some prodding, one of them said sarcastically, "I don't think you really want to know what I think!" "Believe me, I honestly do: go for it," I encouraged, trying to defuse some of the tension.
"Well," he said, "I think this is all bullshit, and I have no intention of sitting through two and a half days of listening to you whine about how whites have done this to you and whites have done that to you. Maybe it's time for you and the rest of your soul brothers and sisters to start taking responsibility for your problems and stop using us whites as your whipping boys. I know exactly where all this is going, and I have better things to do with my time!" There were nods of assent, sarcastic laughs, a few high-fives.
I was completely unprepared for this reaction, first shocked, then hurt, then angry. I retorted in a louder, more aggressive voice than I'd intended, "Where do you think it's going? Where is it going?" Without waiting for an answer, I continued, "Maybe we both know where this is going! You want to talk about responsibility? Why don't you whites ever take responsibility for what you do?"