Just my sister and me
riding in the backseat of a ’58 Dodge sedan
heading home to NJ after six weeks
of the summer sun in our grandparents’
Miami Beach home.
Pull off the road for a bite to eat at a non-descript
roadside restaurant in Georgia or, perhaps, South Carolina.
The hostess greets us with warm Southern charm
then notices my sister’s skin –
tawny from daily beach excursions –
and icily asks my grandfather,
“Is she colored?”
He assures her “No, just a good tan,”
so we’re ushered to a booth
to order hot dogs and turkey sandwiches,
feed the jukebox, and groove to the hot new single
“Tossin’ and Turnin’” by Bobby Lewis.
(the only way an R&B artist could linger in the
chilled air of this roadside joint … on the jukebox).
Sixty years on, this long-forgotten scene
makes a return visit; segregated eateries are now
ancient history throughout the South;
but in post-racial Florida, if you want to study
Black history in school, or accommodate gender
differences at work or espouse the benefits of diversity,
equity and inclusion in an ever-changing American sea
of multi-hued faces, well, fuggeddaboutit.
In fact, you can’t do anything that might make
White Floridians uncomfortable –
for that would be woke: a new code word for
“We don’t like your kind.”
About the Poem
Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has spent the last year stoking a number of regressive initiatives under the banner of “anti-woke” in an apparent run-up to a presidential bid. The courts are not so enamored of, at least, some aspects of his campaign.
About the Author
Rick Blum has been chronicling life’s vagaries through essays and poetry for more than 30 years during stints as a nightclub owner, high-tech manager, market research mogul, and, most recently, old geezer. His writings have appeared in more than 50 print magazines, literary journals, and poetry anthologies, as well as in numerous online publications. He is also a frequent contributor to the Humor Times.