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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.

Voice Recording

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