WONDERFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
by Gene Royer
April 29, 2003
Last Saturday morning about 6:30 I called my little buddy
Ulysis, who comes from El Salvador, and told him I was ready
to help him pull that engine out of his old Dodge pickup if
he'd tow it over here.
But he was hesitant. "I can't leave right now, Mister Geno,"
he said. "There is a big bunch of policemans down the street
from me, and I'm watching it on TV."
I quickly turned on the television set; and sure enough,
about two blocks from his house, a gunman had entered a supermarket
and was holding people hostage. According to the reporter:
About 5:00 a.m., a "lone-gunman" had "allegedly" entered through
the employee entrance because the store was not yet open.
Once he got inside and pulled his gun, he discovered that
the safe was locked and that the manager--who was the only
one who knew how to open it--had not yet arrived.
Someone slipped away to call the cops who arrived with high-powered
rifles. A stand-off then ensued, as they surrounded the place
and decided to wait him out.
I asked Ulysis why he couldn't leave. "Look, this is all
taking place two blocks on the other side of your place. You
can drive straight west to my house and miss it."
"No, Mister Geno, I don't want to miss it. I want to stay
and watch to see if it's a brother or a Tejana."
"A brother? I thought your family moved to San Antonio."
"No, I mean a black man...a bro'. You know?"
It took me a second, but I caught on. "Oh," I said, "you
mean the robber. What makes you think it's either one of those.
It could just as easily be a white guy."
Ulysis laughed out loud. "Oh, no way, Mister Geno," he said,
clucking his tongue at me over the phone. "A white boy would
not try to rob a store when it was closed. Gotta be some dum'
brother or a stupid Mexican who just got here."
At that time, the local news gave way to the morning cartoons,
and the cops had not been able to talk the robber into coming
out so they could shoot him. Ulysis arrived about 8:00 with
the truck in tow, and we pulled the engine.
Later in the morning we heard a news brief which said it
was a young black man about 19 years old.
"See. Did'n I tol' you so?" Said Ulysis. "I said gotta be
some brother or a Mexican."
I shook my head in consternation. "Ulysis, do you know you
are guilty of racial profiling?"
"What?" "Racial profiling. Do you know what that is?"
Ulysis scratched his chin and thought about it for a moment
or two. "Is that where they go get food stamps?"
ęGene Royer Houston TX 2003
2002 Tocqevillian Magazine