It says in the Bible (I John, Chapter 4, verses 20–21), “If a man say, I love God and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, He who loveth God loveth his brother also.”
The U.S. Constitution clearly states that “All men are created equal.” But equal is not always equality. What I mean by that is that most people don’t see a person when they first notice me. I’m not caught up in fashion, so I’m not “well-dressed,” but my clothes are clean. I don’t have a car, but I do have three bicycles. But I’m looked down upon because I don’t fit the standard being set.
One day, I was selling Real Change at my Safeway. An upper-middle-class couple walked up looking at pumpkins. I would guess they were in their late 20s or early 30s. I said, “Hello.” They looked at me. I said, “Hello,” once again. They turned up their noses.
Bougie people just turn my stomach. Then I thought to myself, “High class, low morals.” Someone taught them that it was proper and expected to be rude and to ignore the poor and people of color.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that everyone in Seattle is a racist or an egotistical asshole. The majority of my friends here are White, and I am thankful for them. My friends saw the quality of the man before they saw my dark brown skin.
On the bus one afternoon, two middle-class, White men got on. They were sitting behind me. I heard their conversation. They were talking about racism, mainly against gays and Blacks. I told them that they had no idea. The older gentleman said we need more empathy.
“No,” I said. We need love and respect for one another. Once people start treating people the same way they treat dogs, Seattle will be better off. People often walk up and say “Hi” to my dog and smile at me. Then they try to pet her. I give them, not the “Seattle freeze,” but a “Memphis mean mug.” Where is the love for your brother?
My friend Anitra L. Freeman and I did a speaking engagement to some foreign ambassadors. She asked them, “What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in AmeriKKKa?” A young man replied “Hundreds of people get together and talk about how to save God. No one talks about people.”
See, when I started writing this, I knew that when I spoke on class and how class contributes to homelessness, people would say he’s just running his mouth.
OK. Peep game. What type of housing is going up in Seattle? Section 8? Wrong! Low-income? Wrong! High-end apartments and condos? Yep. Now someone goes to Nickelsville or Tent City 3, unless they are lucky and can afford $1,110 to $1,800 a month. Most places recommend you earn three times what you pay in rent. Keep up with me, do the math. That’s between $3,300 and $5,400 a month.
High-end apartments equal high homeless rates. King County has had more homeless people every year: 3,123 in 2014, 3,772 in 2015 and 4,505 in 2016.
The racism here is worse than Memphis or Nashville. Down south, people will tell you that they don’t like your race. Here they act all politically correct and will smile in your face and disrespect you and think they’re correct.
Real talk! I was in Target in Westwood Village where I used to sell papers. I took my Real Change vest off and went inside. As I was walking through the store, I passed a mother and child. I’d say he was around 6 or 7. He looked up to his mother and said “Mommy, I don’t like Black people.” I stopped dead in my tracks and looked her straight in the eye and said, “You teach them young, don’t you?”
No one in this world is born with an opinion. Racism is taught. My children will say “Yes, sir” or “No sir.” Yours are taught to smile or say sorry.
I must say that it is sad when people think the color of their skin and what they own makes them better. If you talk about my outsides, I will destroy your insides.
Remember I John 4:20–21? The Bible also states God made Adam and Eve, who in turn populated the world. So we are all family under God.
I always tell my friends that God has my back. Ms. Real Change Sharon Jones says, “Blessed and well.” Susan Russell says, “Love Wins.”
I give tough love. I am Katmondu. I’ll be Black.
Katmondu Jack is a former Real Change vendor. Today he sells The Contributor in Nashville.