By Mark Ellis —
Carlos Whitaker lived across the street from an aging white gentleman for four years before the two spoke to each other.
“He’s an old white white man with a huge American flag hanging from his front door and two white porcelain bunnies in his yard,” Whitaker recounts on a Facebook video.
Whitaker tried waving and smiling at the man, but the gesture was not returned and the younger African American began to wonder if his neighbor harbored a racist attitude.
He probably doesn’t like people who look like me, Whitaker thought.
Then Whitaker’s neighbor did something completely unexpected. “I saw him walk out his front door. He had a can of paint in his hand. He proceeded to bend down in front of one of the bunnies and paint it black!
Whitaker was mowing his grass as he watched the man and was moved to the point of tears. After four years of silence between the two, he walked across the street and said, “Neighbor…I had to come over…I saw your black bunny.”
“I’ve only lived here since 1964,” the man replied.
“I’ve always seen these and I wanted to come over to ask, ‘Why did you paint that one black?”
Slowly and haltingly, the man said, “I think with the motivation of what’s going on in the country, I wanted to gently…”
“Yes, that was beautiful! I literally saw that while I was mowing my grass and I started to cry. There’s this thing called racial bias and I’m trying to help my friends understand it’s something they have.”
Whitaker confessed he harbored his own bias, thinking his neighbor didn’t like him because of his skin color. “I just want to tell you that I am so grateful and I apologize if I ever assumed anything because that’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.”
“When I was growing up my mother hired a black lady to keep the house up, food, laundry, cooking, raise me, and all that stuff. And she was a black lady, a servant, and she taught me how to do everything and I never felt any indifference toward her or blacks. I could do more. I could paint them both black but I decided I would rather have one of each.
“I love that. It was so good.”
As Whitaker reflected later about their exchange, he concluded that each of us must examine the racial bias in our own hearts. “This is the work at hand. Time to call it out in yourself and do the work inside your heart to end racism in you.”
To watch Whitaker’s video, go here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=296577194845795