Last week I ran into a friend at the gym. He went to college in Arizona on a football scholarship and has lots of interesting stories. For future reference, he just happens to be African-American, and on this day he had a cautionary tale of how prejudice works both ways.
There was a group of black students on campus who thought they were really fast sprinters. They would organize regular competitions — pay $5 to enter, race 40 yards, and the winner gets all the money. I don’t know why they thought they were fast or if they were in one of the university’s sports programs, but they had very high opinions of themselves.
Enter a new athlete, a sprinter from Texas who had been recruited for the track program. The year before, he was the fastest prep student in Texas. And oh, by the way, he was white.
My friend had a bit of extra cash and, knowing these black students had a particularly low opinion of white sprinters to accompany the inflated views of themselves, saw an opportunity — he would put up the money so the new guy could enter these races, and the two of them would split the winnings.
It was carefully planned. Five dollars was paid, the entrants ran, and the white guy finished… last, much to the satisfaction of the black entrants. “Hey, you got any more money you wanna lose?”
Yes, they did. Another race, and this time the white guy smoked everyone by five yards (remember, this was a 40-yard dash). First came shock, then the excuses. “We don’t have our track shoes on.”
A quick trip into the dorm to get spikes, another race, and the same result — whitey wins by five yards. Then more excuses, another race, and….
What is that saying about pride going before the fall? None of the losers wanted to admit the obvious, even after they’d lost all their money. According to my friend, he and the Texan eventually split $150.
Like I said, prejudice works both ways.