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Last updated 12/9/2020 at 5:36pm

It has been a year, hasn’t it? Personally, I feel like I have lived a thousand lifetimes all squeezed into one unbelievable year. How has it been for you? Two of our Rosenwald residents, Judy Griffin and Malford Jeter Jr. share what’s true and real for them right now:

“I’ve come to the real truth within myself that this world will always have issues,” Griffin said. “Some, no, most are man-made. I prayed for a long time for God to remove my habit of worrying and, as it is now, I don’t worry about issues – personal or worldly that I can’t control or fix. I use praying as my tool to see things differently. This pandemic – we will never know the real truth or mysteries of the origin behind it. The future of our young people is probably one of the urgent issues we need to focus on now, for they are our future. They will be representing some of our most important issues as of this day. To name a few: spiritual enlightenment, economic survival and equal justice for all.

“As it has been stated, if my people who are called by my name, the rest is the mystery we all look to have in the strongest of words – world please!”

Thank you, Ms. Judy for sharing from your heart. Before I move on to Mr. Jeter’s sharing, I want to add a backdrop to his story. When I first moved to our county, it was 1993. It’s a small community and although I have never felt any prejudice, I was conscious that I was both a foreigner and an outsider to this community. My first job was at the local mental health community center. One of my clients, a black man, made quite an impression on me by his reported negative experiences regarding race. It had me fearful for him but also worried about how I might be perceived or treated. Thankfully, I have had only good interactions, and, as time has passed, I have hoped that race relations would have improved. So, now it is the year 2020 and we have Malford Jeter Jr. sharing his experience from the perspective of being a black man in Transylvania County.

Malford and I have spoken several times about recent experiences that he has had while on a former job. The incidents were weighing heavy on his mind, and he asked if I could write about it, so that others would have some awareness of things that were still taking place in this day and age.

He talked about feeling trepidation and concern for his safety of having to go out into the community for work assignments.

“Places they send me, I don’t even have GPS, places I don’t even know,” he said. “People toting guns, rebel flags. I don’t know where I’m at, and people would keep asking me what I’m doing there. I’m like, ‘I have on the company’s hat, shirt. The truck’s parked outside with the company logo on it. Isn’t it obvious why I am there?’

People were demanding answers about his right to be somewhere where he had every right to be.

“I had enough of it,” he said. “I was thinking that something bad was going to happen in the way out places they sent me to, not in Brevard, but it can happen anywhere, even if you’re not in a big city.”

He reported an incident in town, where, again, he was asked over and over again about why he was at the location, even though his company vehicle and clothing indicated his work connection. Even though he answered, the answer didn’t seem to make any difference. Eventually, he decided to leave, with the person still demanding answers and following to his vehicle.

“I felt confused and now angry,” he said. “I eventually got mad and threw a can down on the ground. I got in my company truck and, I admit, I said a couple of words (because) I got mad, (because) he’s following me like I stole something. What am I going to do? He made it like a big deal that I was there and he had to follow me and just kept on with his questions. I felt he was going to do something to me. I cussed, got in the truck and called to tell work about the incident. That man didn’t like that I didn’t answer him when he kept demanding what I was doing there. It reminded me of slave days. If a white person asks a question, if you don’t answer you’re in trouble.”

Jeter did communicate with his place of employment and, within half an hour, the individual who had just followed him to his vehicle had also called his job.

“He called my job, talked to them, saying I was cussing and throwing a can,” Jeter said. “This is not the first time that something like this has happened. Granted, I shouldn’t have thrown the can, but what reason is there for him to follow me?”

The response from his job was less than satisfying to Jeter. He felt that nobody took the time to ask him questions, care about how he was feeling and how these experiences were affecting him. He ended up turning in his two week’s notice, which was accepted instantly, with the individual calling in.

“I am doing something with my life. I am trying always to teach people helpful things: self-defense for women, kick boxing, grappling, mixed martial arts, individualized workout plans and even classes on Zoom for free, as I myself learn that medium.”

Jeter may be reached via Facebook or at (828) 230-4832.

Life is precious. Everyone ought to know that. It would be nice if everyone in the world, regardless of color, could feel and experience that every day.

(Newsworthy items for submission for Rosenwald Community News are welcomed from community members, churches, clubs and groups. If you have an idea for a story or interview for me to capture, please let me know. Enjoy your week. Nicola Karesh may be reached at [email protected] or (828) 421-8615)


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