Thursday, June 4, 2015

Alone In the Crowd - The Isolated Black Man

In my journeys I often find myself being either the only black male, or one of few black males at an event or at a location.  It may be the type of events I attend.  Baseball games, tennis matches, eating in a restaurant, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, museums, etc.  At those events or locations I often was the only black male present (except for workers).  I assume one of the reasons is the events/locations themselves did not generally interest most black males.

I'm not sure of the exact percentage of black males in these United States of America, but I would have assumed there would be more black male representation at these evens/locations. I admire the other groups of people engaged in social bonding activities.  When I do see black men socializing together, for example at a Cracker Barrel or Perkins restaurant on a Saturday morning I tell myself "there is hope for us!"  I notice in my travels that women do quite well bonding and socializing together.  Us black men?  That type of socializing seems rare.  Of course some of us socialize whether it's through fishing or hunting trips, or by attending basketball games together.

I recall making attempts to organize social gatherings.  Ideas for trips to baseball games, auto shows, basketball games as a group outing.  Just the "brothers" hanging together to talk man stuff.  It was a noble idea but in most cases it did not come to fruition.  The typical responses were lukewarm.  Some involved not having money to attend.  Some was just a general non-interest in attending. So, rather than not go to an event I went alone to enjoy what life offers.  I have rarely received invites to attend male social gatherings.  Maybe we just have not been taught how to socialize?

So last week that is what I encountered on a trip to attend a major league baseball game.  Before the game I stopped at a bar/restaurant near the baseball stadium.  Entering the establishment a quick scan made it clear that I was the only black person there.  Later I saw another black male enter and sit at a table by himself.  I thought to myself jokingly, maybe I should go over and sit with him?  Later on he was joined by several other Caucasian males and they socialized together as a group.

I've attempted to join groups that have people with interests such as mine.  Church groups, mentoring groups.  But, the result is the same.  No real opening for establishing true friendships that lead to on going socializing.  Television and the entertainment world have shows featuring black males, but their audience typically is women.  Nothing for a black man to seek camaraderie through.  We're surrounded by a world that reports on others like us being killed by policemen or arrested for various acts of misbehavior.  Constant reports on the athleticism of various black athletes and the exploits of black male athletes.  Those athletes and entertainers become representative of what you think others think of your value as a black man.  As a black male who is not an athlete or entertainer you know that your value is just as equal to them, but do others recognize your value?

But there is hope.  I convinced a friend to venture out to catch a professional baseball game next week.  I'm sure we will be the only two black males in our section!

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