Our little street is comprised of nothing but rental buildings. Besides the guy next door, I am the only resident/owner on the block. The rest of the street is made up of renters who consist of weirdos, old people, hipsters, gay guys, lesbians, and rednecks. Across the street is a guy who never turns on the air-conditioning, not even when the temperature is near one hundred and the humidity isn't far behind. At the end of the street is a building with a parking lot full of pickup trucks. That's where the rednecks live. Then there is the pot head on the corner. He's a very nice guy who always has a dog cookie for Chandler. Next to the guy who never uses his air-conditioning is a nice young straight couple with two adorable pit bulls. Bette loves them, both the pit bulls and the humans. It's a street full of diversity, all races, all religions, the proverbial melting pot.
Yesterday, while I was walking Chandler, I noticed the guy who owns the building two doors down was showing a young couple the apartment that he's been trying to rent out for the last two months. Here's the problem. I looked over at the young couple, a woman and a man, and my lizard brain took over. For a few seconds, maybe more than a few, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. A feeling of worry washed over me. You see the young woman was what my sick little mind took as normal, she was white, but the man was black. Not mocha, not Obama like, but black. With dreadlocks... and a pit bull dog. They had brought their dog along for the landlord to see, which is something I also like prospective tenants to do. Anyway, it didn't take long for my rational brain to beat back my lizard brain that was freaking out over the prospect of a black neighbor.
"You already have black neighbors. The nicest guy on the block is black. Your nephew married a black girl and they'll eventually have black children who will be your blood relatives. For krissakes asshole, you live with a black man. You've done things with him.... "
All that went through my mind in less than a second and I regained my sanity. But the lesson that I take from this is that anybody can be a racist. No matter how we white people try to re-train ourselves to think differently, there is always that tiny grain of intolerance floating around up there. The lizard brain. Be aware of it, fight it, and try very hard not to judge others before you know them. I hope you all had a nice Martin Luther King Jr. Day.