Race is a Matter of Mind

Scan-17John Stephens,
New Market, VA.

Many years ago, when I was a young man, I went to see the movie The Defiant Ones with Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier. The film was about two convicts who were both strident racists. They escaped from prison but they could not escape each other because they were shackled to one another. Over the course of the ensuing drama, they not only put aside their differences for their mutual benefit, but in the process they became friends. Driving home from the movie, I thought to myself how great it would be to have a black friend like that and to be free of the color barrier. Wait a minute! What about Bill Harkey? I wondered. He and I were co-workers and best of friends. We spent a lot of time off work traveling and dining together. I tried hard to picture him in my mind, until I finally realized that yes he was indeed a very dark African American. The reason for the momentary confusion was that I had never before thought of Bill as a Black man. I had only known him as a friend. Race is just a matter of mind.


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