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His name is Chuck Dunlap and he's fifty five-ish, fit, with a baritone voice. At Karaoke night here in the Broken Spoke he is the only black man in the bar. He's drinking draft beer and he's intense, his conversation interrupted only by his turn at the microphone, where he does a creditable job of a Barry White song. When he sits back down he turns to me: "We gotta talk, man, we gotta talk."
"I used to hate white folks, and I mean HATE. Hey, I'll call a spade a spade! Ha! It's worse up north, much worse up north. I was up there outside Chicago, and let me tell you this story, let me tell you this, this is pure HATE I was up visiting outside Chicago, I don't know what town, but we was in the hotel outside Chicago and I got up one morning and went outside for some air and I see this little kid, not four or five years old, out back with a cowboy hat on, and a little toy gun. And he points it at me and I figure I'll play with him, and I raise my hands like this, and this little kid says to me and I'm not kidding he says to me, "We don't like no niggers around here." That's what this little kid said to me, just like that. "We don't like no niggers around here." Now that's HATE, pure HATE. How'd he get that way?
"It's better down south. We've been living together three hundred years, we get along. It's much worse up north, much worse. Yes, I used to hate whites, and I mean HATE. What changed me? I don't hate whites no more. How did I change? I'll tell you. '68, '69, we're outside Cairo, Illinois, little podunk town, me and my wife and my brother and his wife, and we want a beer. We see this little joint right before the bridge over the Mississippi. We stop at this little joint, and just as we stop, fifty, and I mean FIFTY motorcycles pull up, all whites, and go into the bar. I'm thinking No No No, this ain't no good, but my brother says Hell, let's go in. I says No No No but he says 'C'mon!' So we go in and we're the only non-white folks in the bar. And I don't like it, this ain't good, I don't feel right in there. And what happens? You know what happens?
"This piece of white trash I'm sorry, but you know what I mean, low-class white trailer trash this white woman comes up to our table and asks ME to dance. There's no way this is gonna happen, No, No, No, this just ain't a good thing my wife turns to me and says, "Go ahead, dance." I'm shaking my head like this, this ain't a good thing, but what the hell, so I get up and I danced with that white woman. Then this white dude comes up to our table and asks my wife to dance, and she does, and then everything's all right, we had a hell of a time, no problems. We got along with them motorcycle people just fine, so fine you know what happens at the end? When we had to go?
"We was the only blacks in that bar, in this little podunk town, and we got along just fine with them all, and when it comes time to go, they followed us outside and got on them motorcycles, and gave us a fifty motorcycle escort across the Mississippi bridge into Missouri. A fifty motorcycle escort! That's what changed me. We're all the same, man, we're all the same.
"This is a redneck bar we're in, least that's what they tell me. So I come here on Karaoke night, every Sunday. I don't give a damn. I heard this was a redneck bar so I come here just to prove to 'em I ain't scared of nuthin.' We're all the same, man, we're all the same."