The weekend before Christmas I was at the airport looking for transportation to take me home. I spied an unfamiliar shuttle van decorated in red, white and blue and eyed the man standing in front of it. He was an overweight black man probably in his fifties, and I would notice a bit later that he was missing a couple of teeth.
The shuttle I normally take had just pulled off and it would be another thirty minutes to an hour before another one came. I had been out all day and all night, and being the homebody that I am — I really wanted to get home.
I shoved any worry I had to the back of my mind after talking to him and hopped in the van. My worry turned to curiosity and I engaged him in conversation about the shuttle’s company. It was owned by a black couple and had been around for only two months. The company also faces some extreme competition in our area.
I felt kind of bad for the guy. He was nice and accommodating, but I could tell he didn’t like his job. His boss didn’t want him to leave without another customer, which meant a longer wait. He asked if I wanted to get on the competitor’s shuttle because he had to keep trying, but I told him I was fine.
After thirty minutes or so, we finally pulled off.
“We need to support our black-owned businesses,” he told me along the way, adding that we can’t expect support from other people.
I just smiled at him politely.
Of course, now I wish I had spoken up. He was quite chatty and went so far as to talk about the people of India and how dirty they are. I was appalled. Again, I wished I had spoken up.
I’m not very outspoken and tend to be quite reserved, but in 2014, I want to speak up and stand up for what I believe in — liberty and against the dreaded groupthink.
I can assume why the driver felt open enough to tell me “we” black people should support “us.” I’m black. But by not saying anything in disagreement with that or his racist attitude towards others, I essentially agreed with him.
It’s a bad habit I have in order to avoid conflict. But it’s something I want to work on. Becoming a TOL contributor is a starting point for me and the new year is great because it’s a chance to start fresh. I’m starting 2014 being unapologetically libertarian. And going forward, I hope more liberty supporters come out of the closet this year as well. So if you ever find yourself on a shuttle van (or elsewhere) with a person who says hateful or collectivist things, don’t be afraid to speak up.