By Wendel Sloan
Having often wondered what it’s like being black, I asked nephew-in-law Tony Meeking while recently staying with him and my niece Carol in Mesquite, a Dallas suburb.
Tony, born in 1962 in Ruston, Louisiana, said, “You have to develop thick skin.”
The mixed-race couple, married 28 years with two sons and four grandkids (whom they frequently babysit), have encountered sporadic incidents of racism.
At a party in Louisiana, some black women made racial slurs and jumped Carol, the only white. When Tony came to her rescue, several black men pummeled him. Tony and Carol required medical treatment.
During a weekend getaway in North Dallas, two white all-hat cowboys encountered Tony and Carol emerging from their room, yelled at her for being with a “N-word,” and assaulted them.
Tony, soft-spoken, managed to grab a hammer and swung at their knees. The crippled cowpokes limped to their horsepowered pickup and grabbed a shotgun.
Police arrived simultaneously and told Tony to let them drive away, then arrested the urban hillbillies for DWI and cocaine possession.
Tony, the lone black, worked his way up at a large hardware chain in Mesquite.
One night while traveling home on his scooter, four white male yokels in a car called him “N-word” and threw beer bottles. He crashed, and still suffers from wrist and shoulder injuries.
A few months later, Tony had been named employee of the month before taking Carol to the office Christmas party.
The next day he was called to the office, initially demoted, then — when he didn’t quit — told he was “no longer needed.”
While in the Army in Germany, Tony buzzed the intercom while apartment hunting. The female manager hung up, then warned residents not to let the “N-word” in.
“Tony is very tenderhearted,” said Carol. “He truly would help anyone.”
“When we were growing up, my parents taught us to ignore racist comments,” said Tony. “I still do, but sometimes you have to defend yourself.”
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