(Inspired by Tyler Lockett, Seattle Sea hawks Wide Receiver)

When I visited Paris, France in 1957, a young black lady from Paris asked me, “Why do you stay in the USA, they treat you so bad over there?” At age 18, I thought about her question and said, “The United States is the best nation in the world and I have had a good life.” Over the past 63 years, I have often thought about her question. Each time I hear of black people being killed for no other reason than being black. When I hear of black men being put in jail for life, or lynched, on the testimony of a white women that later admitted they lied. When I hear of black men and women being stopped by police, harassed and degraded because they were driving a nice car, it makes me sick.

Fast forward to the 21st Century, black men and women are being killed by the police in many cities around the nation. What puzzles me is, these are not the cities of the Old Deep South, but many northern, mid-west and western cities.

Since 1957, I have had the good fortune to travel too many great cities of the world as a sailor. The USA is still the place where I want to live, but with changes. As a black man, I want to be looked at as a man, not a threat to take your job, but as the best MAN for the job, if, in fact, I am.

I can remember many of my ideas being taken and put into operation, but with other people heading up the projects. I can remember starting up several projects, getting them running smooth and then being moved to another project after being replaced by a white supervisor, someone who could have never started the project from an empty room, a desk and a blank sheet of paper, like I did.

When I worked at the River Bend nuclear plant, I gained the distention of being the only black supervisor on site. Upon the takeover of the plant by another company, Entergy, I gained another milestone, I was the first supervisor to be demoted. The new owners had no idea of my value or knowledge. You can draw your own conclusions. To back up my point, they said their organization did not have supervisors without a 4 year college degree. At least two other white supervisors were in the same position. Those white supervisors were removed from their jobs, sent to college and upon completion (all had some credits), were retained as supervisors and given other jobs. At the time, I had an Associates Degree with just over 30 hours left for my degree, and they would not consider sending me back to college.

My most color blind time of my life was in the Submarine Service. But I must say, that was only while on the ship. Off the ship I faced the same housing discrimination that other black people faced, no matter how many stripes I had on my arm or the color of my uniform. The world outside of the military can be very cruel. Inside the Navy on selective ships and stations, there was a lot of discrimination. I served on seven (7) submarines and had very little problem with the way I was treated. Other branches of the service were not as receptive in some cases.

Black men are not all drug dealers, pimps, gang-bangers, bad or absentee fathers. They are not all free-loaders, crooks and robbers or lazy and don’t want to work. There are a lot (the majority) that are honest, hard working, good black husbands and fathers out there.

Black men are doctors, lawyers, preachers, deacons, business owners, skilled craftsmen, laborers and as one of my sons got to be, a stock broker and business owner The other is a auditor for a government agency. My youngest son is a landscaper and owns a janitorial service. Our black women are skilled and educated too. I have a daughter that is a bus driver and mother of two successful children, and another daughter that is a CNA. You see, black people do have good careers and are good family people.

When I look into the mirror, I see a black man that has played by the rules and achieved a lot. I have also been passed over a lot. I have seen my parents achieve a lot and not given what they earned. Mother and Father were business owners, both were teachers at the end of their primary careers. My father retired from the police force. He also served 4 years as a Deputy Sheriff. As a young boy, I learned a lot about good cops and bad cops. My Mother owned a Mom & Pop convergence store and a gas station before she went back to school and got her Masters and started teaching.

When I look in the mirror, I see a Navy Veteran who made it to Master Chief Electrician’s Mate (E9) and served in the Submarine Service for over 24 years. I see a black man that held several positions and jobs that gained him much respect by his bosses, peers and friends. I have the respect of the members of my church, where I am the Chairman of the Trustee Board. I have the love and respect of my wife, Barbara, our children, that love and respect me along with all of our grand and great-grand children.

Black men and black women want to be treated the way our constitution says, “…equal under the law”.

We have 45 days before one of the biggest elections that we have ever had. Please REGISTER and VOTE! We must get our country back to being great again. Flip the Senate, get rid of Mitch and “The Donald”.

I think that young lady in Paris, now in her late 70’s, would still ask me the same question. My answer would still be the same!

“Mr. Skip” (Oliver A. Holbert, Jr.)