Blackhumouristpress's Blog

August 27, 2013

Separate and Equal

“So wait a minute? You telling me that my friend is not allowed in here?”
The manager wore a thin suit with a thin tie. His hair was combed back with a grease based hair trainer and he was nervously chewing his gum, with his arms folded.
“Hey Mack… It may not feel like it to you but this is the south and the powers that are around here look the other way to what we have here so long as we don’t rock boats. You follow me?”
“Tens of thousands of Negroes are teaming around this town to get civil rights, voting rights, jobs and so forth and you won’t a let a Negro have a beer at your bar? This is crazy. You got a bar full of queers hiding the fact that they’re queer and they all hate that they gotta live double lives but there’s no fraternal bond here, eh?”
The upscale bar frequented by well to-do white men, was a nice place that had live Jazz most nights and a cigar room for men to pick out cigars, have a cognac and get to meet other professional men. You know… The musicians, the patrons, the bartender and all the male waiters all stopped dead in their tracks and watched in shock and astonishment the fact that a black man had entered the discrete bar and sat down at the bar as if he were white. Men whispered to one another. Was this another Woolworth lunch counter gimmick? A black man asks to be served just because he’s in a white establishment. Gay or not.
The bartender wouldn’t approach Clarence or Tom. Everyone in the bar was aware of the large gathering of blacks in town and the speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The wealthy, white, gay patrons had their own crosses to burn. Most were indifferent to the plight of blacks but didn’t necessarily feel solidarity with them over discrimination.
“Listen, if it means so much to you to have a drink with your friend, get a room and a six pack and work it out yourself. This is a business and I wanna stay in business… You follow me? So if there are those willing to look the other way on something’s but not others, I gotta respect that and as the owner of this place, you have to live with what I tell you. So hit the bricks. If you two can do this in Milwaukee or Minnesota, god bless you. End of conversation. Now get going.”
Clarence and Tom walked out of the bar and into a black Ford sedan. Tom lit a cigarette as Clarence drove. Clarence hit the pre-set buttons on their government issued automobile to a black radio station that was playing doo-whop. Tom thought to himself and then laughed.
“I dunno if we were believable as a mixed queer couple. Maybe the queers got some kind of hand signal or code words that they use with each other to identify other queers like the Masons or Elk. All I know is that for whatever reason J. Edgar is very concerned that queer joints don’t start allowing blacks in them. I can’t figure out the work detail sometimes. We got a million out of town people that are probably all communist and we’re going into a god damn gay bar to make sure black fags are not drinking with white ones… Pull over to that diner. I love their hamburgers.”
It was a diner in an all white part of town that blacks just knew that they weren’t allowed into. No signs just the unwritten look of disapproval let any blacks know that being served at the white restaurant, frequented by whites for whites, was not worth forcing the issue.
“I’m only gonna be twenty minutes or so. You wanna wait here and I’ll bring you out a burger, Clarence?”
“Naw… No need. There is a place better than this one where I can set my black ass down comfortably and eat like a human… I’ll see you in an hour. We can go in after that and write the report about tonight’s findings.”
“Ok … See you soon.”

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