Stephanie: Fear and Coffee

Stephanie. Faces of the Festival 2019. Steven Meckler photo

When I was a young person traveling across the United States by myself in the early 1980s I was trying to get to Tucson. I stopped at a truck stop outside of Oklahoma City. It was almost an act of God or something–all music stopped as I walked in, and everybody stopped to turn and look at me. I was thinking, Uh oh, this is not a place where a black woman should be. I was very uncomfortable, but I needed that coffee. The hostess sat me way in the back. Everybody was literally staring at me, and there didn’t look to be a friendly face in the whole place. Nobody looked like me. 

About three tables up from me, there were about six young white men laughing and pointing, talking about me.  I was sitting there drinking the coffee and one of the men sat directly opposite from me, just staring at me. I was scared because I was totally alone, and I had no defense at all. He said, ”Y’all from round here?” I answered, ”No, I’m from New York and I’m just passing through.”  When I went to pay at the register, that whole table got up and followed me to my car.But I saw one black trucker who I walked up to said, “Please walk me to my car,” which he did. That, to me, was my greatest memory, greatest fear. That was eye-opening and a major realization to me about being Black in the United States.

-Stephanie

1 thought on “Stephanie: Fear and Coffee”

  1. Wow Stephanie…that does sound like a very scary experience and sure glad it all worked out.

    My husband is from Scotland and, having never been to the US, decided to hitchhike around the states in the summer of 1977 (he was 20 years old). Steve has a load of stories to tell about the things he saw and did but a few stick out that are little scary. One of his experiences was ending up on the south side of Chicago at night not realizing where he was. Upon hearing gun shots near him he began walking quickly when an older African American man approached him. He told him he was in the wrong neighborhood and promptly escorted him to the bus stop, put him on a bus, and told him never to come back to that part of town.

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