Bernard was a large and frankly intimidating-looking African-American guy. I met him last Tuesday night as I was walking along the shoulder of the Veterans Expressway. I was headed home after a very bad day when my car broke down. As I stood there for an hour, many cars passed me by. None of the other drivers stopped to help, but Bernard - a tough-talking guy in a white work van - did. When we stopped, I tried to flip him a twenty, but he refused. "I don't want your money, man. I just wanted to give you a hand."
It was a very short drive, not long enough for me to find out a thing about Bernard, but as he sped away I wondered, "Would I have stopped to help him if the roles were reversed?" My answer, unfortunately, was no.
I regret that I didn't learn anything about Bernard, but he helped me to take a hard look at race and prejudice and preconceived notions of who people are. I'm so grateful Bernard stopped. Not just because he gave me a ride, but because he gave me a chance to reconsider my own prejudices.
Government and institutions all around have failed us, and the reality is guys like me dressed in suits have done far more damage to this nation than any other class of individuals. I'll carefully consider this reality next time I see someone in our community is in need.
Matthew D. Weidner