My father was a righteous man,
believing first and foremost
in fairness, balance, equality, and justice.
I felt wronged,
being kicked out of a bar
for the first time in my life.
In San Antonio, a crowded night,
the bartender bumped a Red Bull
with his elbow, not realizing it.
As he walked away,
I picked it up,
so it wouldn’t spill all its contents.
He saw that, and somehow concluded
that I had knocked it over on him.
As I waited to order my beer,
he summoned security.
My father once wanted to sue
a priest in our church parish
for five hundred dollars
that he claimed the priest misled him about
for some trip or charity or relief effort,
but the family talked him out of it.
Security came to escort me out.
When I tried to explain,
he asked if I wanted to talk to the manager.
Of course I said yes.
It was a pretext,
setting me up for two off-duty police
to escort me out of the bar.
To move up the ranks of
the Milwaukee school system,
my father worked years in the black schools
of the very divided city,
only to be relieved of his principalship
at the end of his career
because a black school no longer
wanted a white principal.
Asked again if I wanted to see a manager,
of course I said yes,
but I was already back at the entrance
escorted by two officers
and a bright flashlight overhead.
The black officer listened to my side of the story,
minor in the overall scheme of things,
given the injustices most black people endure.
He was sympathetic,
the only one to apologize.
It was clear no manager
would take the time for me.
I left with only my indignity
and my father’s righteousness.