This week I drove into a service station to gas up and was met by a lovely young woman assistant who was bright and cheerful in her tone and quite helpful. “How may I help you?” she wanted to know.
I drive a vintage Jaguar Sovereign saloon car that is a classic, and which was looking its best. It had been washed and sparkled in the bright sunshine.
Meanwhile another car pulled up to the opposite side of the pump and two men got out. She approached them with a voice that was flat, neither friendly nor unfriendly. She was all business.
“What would you like?, she asked. These guys were driving in a vintage family car that showed signs of its age and the guys were dressed in work clothes that reflected that they were hard workers. Meanwhile I was dressed to reflect the fact that I am a retired person. She therefore probably thought that the guys were orange pickers and that I was a man of leisure who wore after shave lotion that smelled like money. (Ha! Ha!)
In fact I had been picking oranges from my own trees for my immediate use and Lord knows I don’t have any money. For all we know the two of those guys might have a ton of money hoarded away instead of spending it on a brand new top of the range car.
Otherwise those guys and I have the same thing in common: we are all black men.
It is so easy to come to the wrong conclusion when faced with certain images. The mistake is called judging the book by its cover, something advertising people work hard in directing us to do, over and over again.
It’s all a case of mistaken assumptions, but as long as that doesn’t lead to harmful consequences it’s just life in action.
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