Where were the White “Allies?”
Like just about every interested person in the country, I’ve seen the video of the “Montgomery Sweet Tea Party,” “The Slamma in Alabama,” “Fade in the Water,” and the other inventive titles given to the August 5th brawl.
Briefly, some white pleasure boaters parked their boat in a spot that blocked the space where a large passenger boat, the Harriott II, needed to dock. Despite being asked to move their boat several times from the ship’s loudspeaker, the white boaters refused. When a black man, who was the co-captain of the commercial boat, asked the white boaters, sometimes vehemently, to clear the space, and they still refused, he began the motion to untie it from the dock.
Much unpleasantness ensued.
Like most black people, I had several reactions. One was my naive disbelief that anybody would show such blatant disrespect to a black man in front of witnesses. I guess I haven’t learned. We know how people act when they think no one’s looking, but that one was a surprise. Another was a feeling of absolute justification that the white perpetrators got what they asked for. There was my pride that black folks showed up in force, and, I confess, some disappointment when “folding chair man” took it too far. All in all, I applauded the solidarity.
More than anything else, though, I had a question.
White allies; where were you?
Among the many memes of the day, and I have laughed at every one of them, were a few from white people who applauded the black heroes that day at the dock. Thank you. But… there were plenty of white folks at the dock that day. We know they were there because some of them joined the fight on the side of the white perpetrators. The many times I have viewed the video, I have seen what may be one white man trying to defend the black worker. So, other white people; where were you?