I ventured to Washington D.C. last week for one of the most memorable events in my adulthood, the Chevrolet Table of Brotherhood Project that took place in the Washington Convention Center.
Let me say this, the best and brightest nationally recognized influencers were on the panel—Las Alonzo, Arianna Huffington, Debra Lee (BET) Beverly Bond (Black Girls Rock) and Lisa Nichols, just to name a few—and these people kept it real.
Debra Lee told us to respect but not to romanticize our history, in other words, keep moving forward if we want to progress.
Las Alonzo told of his Cuban mother who couldn’t speak English, but she marched with Martin Luther King Jr. because the Civil Rights Movement gave her a voice.
Beverly Bond told of the sexualization of our young girls and that we need to open our eyes and create public policy to correct that.
Arianna Huffington told us that we need to rally together to create a sense of urgency around the issue of America’s underemployed and unemployed.
Lisa Nichols told that it’s time for us to do our part to continue Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of racial harmony, that we need, “the Dream, Part 2.”
After witnessing this panel, I was so empowered as an African American, and as an American woman.
And just as I left the convention center, beaming with pride, the unthinkable happened.
As I was walking down the aisle, a golden tipped walking stick jutted out of nowhere and landed this/close to my ballerina shoes.
The walking stick, used for style, not walking assistance, belonged to Mr. Vain, a crass, yet well-dressed fellow.
Mr. Vain nearly stabbed me in the pinky toe as he made his way out of the packed convention center.
“Hey!,” I yelled. “You almost stabbed my foot,” I told him.
The tall, dark, man paused in an elegant stance. He was wearing a derby hat, with a paisley patterned fabric that perfectly matched his patterned Ascot.
He spoke, in a musically trained booming voice.
“What did you say, gal?,” he asked, as the Cheshire cat grin slinked across his saggy ebony jowls. “Are you flirting with me?”
He may not have been 100-years-old, but he had the oldest looking face I’ve ever seen--think of a Black version of Keith Richards, and I’m being pretty generous.
I peeped his hat and the matching ascot and the three-piece tan suit and spectator shoes--and I giggled so hard that my eyes were misty.
Mr. Vain continued to reject my advances. “Look at you little girl, flirting with the Establishment. You must be from outta town.”
“The Establishment?” I asked, as I maneuvered around his lethal walking stick and continued out the door.
Mr. Vain: “The league of fine, professional, African American men from good stock. We are established men, here. I’m the Establishment. Where do you call home?”
“I’m from Chicago,” I said, still walking.
He gets the final word: “I don’t suppose there are Established men in Chicago,” he quipped as he tapped, tapped, tapped that golden tipped walking stick in the opposite direction.
Vanity is a hell of a thing. I can only hope I'm so sure of myself when I reach his age.
Photo: Posed by a professional model; photo by Jon Haynes Photography.