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Coffee Shop Conversation

“I suppose everyone heard about the latest shootings,” Cole introduces.

“If you’re talking about the police officer who shot a black man in Minnesota,” Monica adds, “I think it’s terrible.”

“That’s yesterday’s news, Monica,” Bill proclaims, “Just as terrible is the black sniper who shot police in Texas.”

Cole declares, “I think the sniper fired on police patrolling a protest because a police officer shot a black man in Louisiana.”

“A cop shooting a black in Louisiana is not news. I think it’s an ordinary occurrence down there,” Bill chuckles.

“I don’t think that’s funny,” Monica points out.

The threesome and two other acquaintances sip their evening coffee outside their favorite coffee shop. Cole, Monica and Bill relax around a small round metal outdoor table while Shanda and Samara sit peacefully on a wooden bench beside them.

It is a warm, but comfortable summer evening. A soft breeze stirs through occasionally to add to the relaxation and cool the hot rich coffee served at the small, but popular city shop. There are few patrons tonight as many of them grabbed coffee-to-go. There’s some talk that it might storm as a cool front pushes out and a warm humid front invades the area.

This group of customers defies the weather warnings to meet as they do most week day evenings between work day’s end and dinner at home. Each come from separate downtown offices and leave to various different neighborhoods in the city. The coffee shop is the only place they ever meet to socialize, discuss what’s on their mind and seldom resolve any issues.

“You’re right, Monica,” Shanda, who very seldom comments, shares, “It’s not funny.”

Monica puffs out her chest and glares at Bill as she responds to Shanda, “Thank you, Shanda.”

“You’re also correct, Bill, when you call it an ordinary occurrence and not just in Louisiana. That’s why it’s not funny,” Shanda acknowledges.

Bill feels some shame and thinks it would be good to apologize for offending.  But he doesn’t want to show weakness, so his pride keeps him silent.

“I’m going to refill my cup,” Bill ekes out, “Anyone else need anything while I’m up?”

Every head shakes followed by a palm raised, a “no thanks” or a “I’m good, thanks.”

“I think you put poor Bill in his place, Shanda,” Cole assesses when he believes Bill is out of earshot.

Shanda looks Cole in the eyes and clarifies, “That was not my intention, Cole. I just don’t want to make light of the racist issue here.”

“I agree,” Monica retorts. “We need to talk about racism.”

“I don’t think Bill’s remark was racist,” Cole defends. “I think he was just uneasy and tried, poorly I might add, to lighten the conversation.”

“Why was he uneasy?” Shanda asks.

“Haven’t you noticed? He’s always cracking jokes when the discussion gets real serious,” Cole submits.

Shanda ripostes, leaning forward towards the table, “I have noticed. Would he have been so uncomfortable if Samara and I were not here?”

“I think Cole’s right, Shanda,” Monica argues, “I really don’t think Bill is racist.”

Bill returns with his cup of coffee. Instead of sitting at his place at the round table, he stops.

“What’s this about me being racist?” Bill inquires sharply, “Are you all accusing me of being racist?”

“Your joke was in poor taste,” Cole answers. “I think it offended Shanda and Samara.”

“It did offend Shanda and Samara,” Monica points out, “It offended me. I think I was the first to declare it in poor taste.”

“But no one said the word ‘racist,’” Bill shouts. “OK, it was in poor taste. But because I was uncomfortable talking about this stuff that happened far away.”

“You think the issue of racism isn’t right here in our own community?” Shanda attacks. “The cops right here in this city treat African Americans different than their own.”

“Shanda, that’s a pretty broad generalization,” Bill claims. “I find that offensive and a little bit racist.”

“Please sit down, Bill,” Monica pleads. “There’s no need to attack each other over this.”

Bill sits down, “I won’t be called a racist and not feel the need to defend myself,” he declares.

“You can call me whatever you want to call me,” Shanda professes. “But because I speak the truth, I’m called a racist. Billy white makes a racist joke and you want to defend him.”

“I think what Shanda means is that…,” Cole tries to explain before he is interrupted.

“Don’t be explaining what I mean like I’m stupid or something,” Shanda demands. “I spoke the truth and I meant exactly what I said.”

“All officers in this city treat African Americans differently,” Monica clarifies, “That’s what you’re saying.”

“I’ll be as clear as I can be,” Shanda clarifies, “ALL cops, white, Hispanic or Negro, in this city treat African Americans more harshly, more disrespectfully than they do the Caucasians.”

“Samara,” Bill directs this question, “Do you feel the same as Shanda?”

“I do,” Samara answers. “I found the joke offensive and racist as well.”

The three at the table are in shock and even Monica, who always has something to say, is silent.

“But don’t misunderstand or get angry at us,” Samara requests. “This is not intended to shame you or shock you.”

“I am not a racist,” Bill continues to defend. “I’m sorry about the joke, OK? But I’m not racist.”

“It was a racist joke to me,” Shanda confesses. “But I would be willing to accept that it was carelessness, not racism that spawned it.”

“But Bill,” Samara cautions, “Maybe you need to examine closely what kind of heart caused you to tell that joke.”

Bill maintains, “I’m not a racist. I don’t believe any certain race is superior to another.”

“Shanda’s and my claims,” Samara shares, “were not to guilt you.”

“Why does everybody think they can speak for me?” Shanda protests.

“For me, then,  I hope you see it as a request to be understood – an act of awareness to the struggle with racism we have to deal with every day right here in our city.”

“You can’t be healed,” Cole inserts, “until you admit you’re sick.”

“I believe that’s how we need to respond to incidents like these that occurred this week,” Samara adds. “Not with anger or pride or defensiveness, but make an honest look inside our own hearts and ask the tough questions instead of pointing the finger at others.”

“I’m sorry I offended you, Shanda, Samara,” Bill apologizes. “It, rather, I was insensitive.”

“I think maybe I was too harsh to judge you as racist,” Shanda admits. “But the joke sounded racist to me.”

Cole stands and grabs a chair from another table and places it beside the other empty chair at the table where he sits.

“Would you two be more comfortable joining us at this table?” Cole asks.

“it might help us to hear each other better,” Monica adds.

Romans 12: 9-21,New International Version (NIV)


Categories: Black Lives Matter Friends How to deal with Racism Life Romans; Judging Others Understanding

Douglas Knight

I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at

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