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The International Writers Magazine: The Synergy Effect

Black Man
• Roy Valenzuela
Terry is a black man that I both recently met and had the privilege of working with for a little under two months. Off point but relevant is the suggestion that according to several recent publications, Chat. town USA is recognized as one of ten cities that are pleasant, favorable, amenable, scenic, tolerant, and a must visit for the indigenous 'folk' of the south .


Sure thing! I live on the banks of the meandering Tennessee river. She's a beaut!... Combinations of historic towering rocks where gruesome battles once raged for the rights of citizenry - to rolling carpets of fescue 'sprankled' with lilies leading into Deep piercing woods of pine, nestled cold springs, and mineral rich streams; all are ensconced in shallow burrows and sprawling valleys throughout.

This, my city, is "beautiful for situation" and in recognition of former struggles to settle her history, Chattanooga has morphed and reinvented herself-to a degree...Her cuisine alone would make our fallen culinary first Lady of the south-well blush.. Terry is black, I know- I looked twice... Chattanooga is pleasing to the eye. Even so, Terry's personal struggles for reinvention are so noted as he attempts to morph right along with Chat. town, his 'digs', and ride her revisionist waves.

At first he was quiet, reserved, cautious, and even suspecting. After all, A sports club, Chat. towns finest, reeks of sordid laundry that breeds gossip of the worst sort. A sea of lily whites, 'white' collar no less, make up her registry and forms the clubs natural contours. It's a bad shape and a bad scene, crappy!... They are affluent and he stands out!

I, a personal trainer and he a house keeping employee took little time in becoming friends/ confidants minus the membranous snares of 'gossip' and its betrayals and entanglements. Even amongst his fellow 'house keepers' there was noticeable separation. Dullards they are.... Terry is of placid demeanor but he is also tall, robust, muscular, inventive, and determined!...It's this last defining quality, his determinedness, that really impresses. It emerged and I watched it unfold. In his struggle to gain sole custody of his eldest daughter he proved himself transcendent..."screw the status quo,"defy prejudice, walk on Chat. Towns green lawns and crush underfoot her lilies, not with indignity mind you, but remind them, with caution, those probing eyes that "I am a BLACK man"....

Entitlements are the 'opiate' of the people!...Once a proud 'culture', African Americans have been reduced to subculture status...A forced resignation with demoralizing harsh terms that cripples them to hell... But Terry would have nothing of it! He's a part timer and runs a more lucrative cleaning business that is contract based....He makes 'Bucks"!... A second opiate would be local government a spawn of a bigger, badder, and haughtier brother ( state government). He spits on it, challenges decisions handed down by local courts through staunch compliance. Yes that's right- he does what they ask of him no matter how many times they ask; nor does he consider the cost...His many lawyers with the exception of the last have deliberately botched his efforts. His caste is that of pariah don't you know, "Damn them Roy....I'll keep paying all of them. I'll get mine. I'll get my daughter to!...Watch, you'll see"...

In the least the courts in Chat. town USA have abused 'authority' by extracting large sums of 'cash', requiring he be present during personal work hours, and making sure he understands to turn a blind eye when they, with concealed composure, repeat such machinations time and time again. Don't ask why or how he got into this predicament. entitlements are an extension of oppression that has no justifiable explanation. These things never work themselves out. The programs are not solution oriented... Nevertheless I saw with eyes wide open Terry creating a legacy. His children have an excellent model and a chance at reversing an acidic destructive cycle. He can watch the damn thing come to its ever loving end... The 'man' works hard at it!..

Back at the SB, the disapproving looks, the reproaches of a demeaning sad supervisor, the absentee Manager, the cliquish staff, the distant membership, all wittingly/unwittingly challenged his resolve. Oh not so directly/intentionally but subversively. Not because of circumstance but more caste related. It's easier to medicate ones ills by making a 'lesser' aware of his station, always!... Not Terry tho. With unrequited reserve, in this also he does what they expect.... It's not a "to Hell with them" attitude but more like; "can I have another please?" approach... I've observed. It's most definitely an 'approach'; a brilliant one that stems from an acquired dignity... he wears that 'metal jacket' well.

He's worked long and hard to get that daughter of his. One evening while working, unexpectedly, up on the mezzanine, Terry suddenly appeared with his brood. Three timid, nappy haired, wide eyed black angels!...yep, they're black too. That he took the time to bring them in and seek me out made my heart skip a beat. Earlier that evening he'd confided that until I came to work there his interaction with club members and staff was at best limited. We have a burgeoning friendship, I'm certain of it!... I didn't have the gumption to tell him that I didn't know any better; that my pie hole opens, vomits, and fights fiercely against 'closure'.

Chat. Town is lovely for situation, just google it, you'll see. Oaks, Maples, Crepe Myrtles, trees of bulk and stout, excepting the 'crepe'. She's more like a river bank plant to provide both beauty with her fragrant lilac blooms and shade as they are clustered almost one on top of the other. And the various hydrangeas, with its dominant prevalent white tufts will bloom in the late summer. These are all complimentary/necessary appendages to the aforementioned geography... It's a brilliant setting in the south of Tennessee.

Terry defiantly loves his daughter just as he loves his three little chicks. At closing that night, again up on the mezzanine, from more than a distance of fifteen feet, over the loud hum of a vacuum, Terry took a deep breath and bellowed; "I would do anything to get her back. If I have to rob a bank I'll get her back...You'll see, you'll see Roy"!... But Terry I never doubted and you did get her back. His deep affection for his 'chillins' overshadowed all and like a rock flying through glass shattered my window looking out at my beaut of a city... He replaced it with a more transfixing view, glass that is slightly tempered and tinted with a darker hue.

The atmosphere of the place wasn't agreeable to me. I blew the joint and won't look back. That Black man is still there...We're going to have lunch together soon..."Hey Terry, what do you prefer to be called, Black or African American?"...."Mannnnnnn, don't ask me a stupid question"!.... Smiles.

© Roy Valenzuela July 2013

Let's Be Ants
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