Last night was a pretty good night. I spent my evening at the Mu Sigma Upsilon R.A.C.E. banquet. I had some pretty decent food. I laughed with some students. Spent time with a few people I haven’t seen in quite a while. Saw Bobby Gonzalez speak. He has a great message which was, know your history and understand your culture. That, along with the theme of the banquet, was simply promoting racial harmony. All was going great. I decided to call it a night because I wasn’t sure I wanted to really go out.
I drove some of my favorite students to a party and I went home. One of my roommates, was walking out as I pulled up and he started telling me that he is about to get picked by a mutual colleague to have some drinks. Well, I am already dressed and I thought about it for a minute. Sure, I will go since I was asked for the second time that night.
To be quite honest, Syracuse is a very small city. So, the chances of running into my ex-wife with her date this night was highly likely. She was at the same banquet I was at, so I thought her going out for drinks was a good possibility. However, I followed my instinct and decided to hang out with some friends.
We hit Al’s Wine & Whiskey Lounge. This place is not bad at all. Drinks are priced correctly and the atmosphere is comfortable. The funny thing is that there are four of us. All professional men of color. We originally wanted to try this new place called Bittersweet Wine Bar & Desserts that just opened up. We joke about that there is no place in Syracuse for people like us. So when we get to Bittersweet, we don’t even walk in…all white people when we looked inside. We laughed about it when we get to Al’s, but understandably, the atmosphere was not what we were looking for. All of us would stick out like four sore thumbs. At least Al’s had other black people in there.
Three rounds later and we decided to just go. The night was not what we expected, although all the jokes we told were hysterical, we headed toward Nick’e Tomato Pie. This place is always the best place to end a night of drinking. Good Pizza and enough space to sit down, talk, and people watch.
This is what we did: People Watch. We joked and watched a group of drunk white women who were there celebrating a bachlorette party ( I assumed that they needed pizza to soak up the liquor). How crazy and funny they were, talking about large penises and all the things they would like to do. The word of the night was “lumberjacking”. We just had to look this up on urban dictionary. It seems those women knew what that word was and when they left one of them made sure to tell us they were all very good looking.
I would say we spent a good amount of time there having a great time. Then, it happened, a police officer walked in. Let’s keep this fair, there were a good amount of people in this place; mostly white people. We sat at a table. Just the four of us. There is nothing hood or ghetto fabulous about our look. So imagine how annoyed we were when the this officer walks in and just goes to our table. He asks, “Any one of you named, Mike?” After our response, which was “no”, he walked away. That was it. He did not ask anyone else….or any white people. So the question of the night was… “How many degrees do we need to have?”
Yes, it was just a question. But clearly he was looking for something to only ask us. We are the best dressed guys in the entire place. We look like we are not paying attention to anyone but ourselves…but I guess we still look like “Mike”. I guess whomever he was looking for only has a description of a black male that may or may not have glasses and can be any shade of darkness. It does not matter that we all work for Syracuse University since we must have the genetic make up that allows us to be suspects in whatever way they may be looking for. So, no, it does not matter if we have a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree.
But, I forgot. We have a black president, so that means that we defeated Racism. We are above all of that. The jokes about how we cannot find a place in Syracuse for us to feel comfortable was made all too real when a man with a badge and a gun can make four educated black men seem like they are nothing but suspects.