Houston, Texas, 1971-1972
Ari Traffic Control Center, Training Room
“Gus, leave her alone, man.”
“Yeah, that’s what WAF means, ‘We All Fuck’. That’s what you did with 'dem white boys, didn’t ya? Ha ha ha. “ said Gus.
Gus was big and brawny prize fighter type. He was black, skin tanned, handsome, but a fool about life. He and his trainee friends found out I had served in the United States Air Force and made light of it.
I didn’t say anything, I just wanted to get on with the training. Just then he started to push the table between us saying,
“Ain’t that right, WAF? Ain’t that right?”
"Leave me alone, Gus. I started pushing it back towards him. “Sit down, fool…It's better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”
Everybody started to laugh.
“Niggar please,” he said.
The training was stressful, we had to simulate planes flying with plastic
strips. Computers were not on the scene, yet. You had to know how fast the plane
was flying, altitude, speed, calculate the arrival of the plane over a certain point,
separate the planes by speed, height, or distance. No time for interruptions,
concentrate, play the chess game of air traffic always checkmating. Peoples’ lives
are on those strips. Each strip represented hundreds of people.
Remember this is all simulaltion, we’re being timed.
“STOP” says the timekeeper.
“Take a break. I’ll be back in 20.”
I turned around in my chair with my back to the board we were working on with the
Kin a white, paraplegic errand boy came rolling up with his hands all black from rolling the wheel on his wheel chair. They say he was that way from a boating accident, said he broke his neck. Any, way he could nott move his body from the waist down.
Our relationship was always a friendly hello, or good morning. He was always joking with the black guys, and laughing. He had a pretty good relationship with them.
I looked over at Ken, He was about 6 feet from me. He looked suspicious, sinister, dark, like he was waiting for something to happen.
Gus and the other guys were still on break.
Just then, this tall, big dark skinned, back man, I’ll call Ed, I know he was over 6 feet tall, came strolling up to my desk. He was already a veteran controller; he had been there a few years. I guess he wanted to show his authority over me.
“BAM” kicked me right square in the ankle it made such a loud sound that my chair rolled back a few feet,
“Listen, Frankie Ken told me you called me a “Black Ass Niggar”
“Don’t deny it, He put his hand over his mouth as he said, “bitch”. You’d better git your act together, we don’t play that shit around here . Then he turned and walked away.
Ken, the white boy in the wheel chair put his nasty hand over his mouth and giggled saying nothing.
“What was that?” I asked myself. The trainer came back in the allotted 20 minutes with Gus and the others. My ankle was hurting, as it was hard to concentrate.
I decided I’d better protect myself, that was a serious thing back then to call someone “niggar” at the work place.
I would never say that especially to an unstable white boy, needing affection and attention. If Ed had offended me in some way, I would have gone to him, myself. I didn’t need a go between. I hardly knew Ed. Why would I say something like that about him? I went to the supervisor who was a white man about the same height as the Ed, the black man.
“Sir. I just had a confrontation with Ed and Ken, today. Ed approached me, kicked me in the ankle and said Ken said I called him a “Black Ass Niggar.” He didn’t give me a chance to deny it, he just walked away all bitter at me.
“Sir, I never called him that. I want to keep my job, and if something like that got around I was calling another employee Niggar, especially around all these white me, I could get hurt. I hope you understand, living in the south and all.”
“Go back to your station, I’ll handle this.”
“About a week later, all three of us were called to his office.
The tall white man seemed agitated. He seemed embarrassed. He made a deep sigh, as he looked over some papers.
Ed, the tall black man was hunched over up next to the white man, I think that’s an unconscious southern thing when black men get around white men in authority. His voice was higher, even his moves were quick and erratic.
Ken the paraplegic was all bubbly and happy, didn’t look at all like he did last week when he was watching to see what Ed would do to me. In fact Ken never let me see his face in that meeting.
“Gentlemen, I called this meeting to discuss actions out on the platform concerning name calling.
“She never said anything, I was just joking. I didn’t mean anything.” Butted in Ken the paraplegic. He didn’t even give the supervisor time to respond.
“I don’t know what this is all about, sir.” Lied Ed, the black man who kicked me.
My turn to speak…I don’t remember what I said. I was so shocked to here the lies. The big white man said something to close the meeting.
Ken rolled out, quickly, never apologizing to me, not even looking at me.
I walked out after Ken, turned the corner to go back to the platform; when Ed, the tall black guy grabbed my arm, pushed me back onto one of the wooden doors, I remember bumping my head.
“You, black ass niggar,. Don’t you ever embarrass me in front of my boss, again!”
I could see the gray hairs protruding from his nose as he breathed hard, eyes red with rage, but probably red from smoking weed. The controllers smoked a lot of weed for stress,
Why didn’t he get mad at the white boy in the wheel chair? He was the one that instigated the whole thing.
Was I scared? I probably was. Back then as well as now, black women were at the mercy of the black man’s rage.
He could do what he wanted to do with me. And he did. I was transferred out to another state.
You say, oh the white man did that.
No, it’s done subtly, lies and gossip was spread, nobody wanted to associate with me.
White boy stay. Black man keep reputation. My black Niggar ass was out.
“Black Ass Niggar” …powerful combination. In today’s world, it includes both male and female, dark and light skinned Niggars.
Do you know the difference between a Black niggar and a White niggar?
Please tell me I don’ t have to explain that to you…