I was headed up to my room from the hotel lobby. As the elevator door opened, another guest walked up and entered the elevator with me. Our conversation was limited to me asking “which floor” so that I could push the button for him since I was closest to the buttons. Within the short period of time it took for us to enter the elevator and travel to our respective floors, I observed as much as I could about this guest. He appeared to be a middle-aged white male with nothing really shocking or unique about his appearance. Under most circumstances, I would never be concerned about his presence. But as this middle-aged white male entered the elevator and rode up to his floor, I realized I was concerned simply because he had three bags with him.
One bag was a metal style piece of luggage. Okay, I know you are probably wondering, “what’s the point, Tonza?” Yes, I know, most people have luggage when they come to hotels. But I was still concerned. His second bag looked like a messenger style leather bag. Nothing to be alarmed about, right? Okay, I am with you. Nothing to be alarmed about. He could be in town on business, or he probably had his laptop with him. Duh… But I was still concerned. His third bag was a large duffle bag on wheels, not quite long enough for golf clubs. Still, nothing to be alarmed about…right? I mean people pack according to the length of their stay and sometimes travel with items other than clothing. Logically I understood this. But I was still concerned.
As I stood there quietly, my brain processing these thoughts, I understood that this man had done absolutely nothing to make me feel alarmed or uncomfortable, but… I was. To quell my unfounded discomfort, I kept telling myself that I was being absolutely ridiculous and quite unfair. Despite that pep talk with myself, I stood there wishing I had x-ray vision so that I could see what he had in his bags in order to completely put my mind at ease.
Why did this middle-aged white man, who did absolutely nothing but have the audacity to have three bags in a hotel, make me uncomfortable? Because the fact that he had three bags that looked as though they could comfortably store a nice amount of firearms and ammunition made my mind race back to October 1, 2017, when a white male gunman, after a carefully executed plan, murdered 58 innocent human beings while injuring another 851 from a hotel window in Las Vegas using ammunition and guns that he was able to bring into the hotel without detection. And, as much as I pride myself on being a liberal person, there was nothing that could stop me from praying that the man in the elevator with me flew to this destination so someone would have had to at least check his bags.
If he were a black male with the same luggage, I definitely would not have been alarmed. If he were a white woman with the same luggage, I definitely would not have been alarmed. If he were a black woman with the same luggage, I definitely would not have been alarmed.
I am a black woman, and I was stereotyping. Does that make me a bad person?
I believe that we must begin to have honest and open conversations with one another so I hope that you all will share your honest thoughts on this piece.