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Were You The DJ?

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We hurried down to baggage claim because we wanted to get home as soon as we could. We had an hour and half drive ahead of us and it was already 9 o’clock. My wife and kids waited off to the side, while I waited right next to the conveyor.

Everyone was tired and just ready to go and it seemed as if it was taking longer than usual for the whole process to simply begin. I waited towards the back of the line. I am not the type to just jump right in the front. Looking to my left I noticed a tall African-American gentleman who if I had to guess, was about 35 years old. We struck up a light-hearted conversation and in so doing I discovered that he had been to Cambridge, the small town where I live. He told me that he had done a wedding there.

And then…

Before I knew it…

Words came out of my mouth that I regretted the moment I heard them. But it was too late.


Were you the dj?


Why did I ask that!?

He very easily could have been the dj. But he could have just as easily have provided an assortment of other services  at the wedding. I was embarrassed and ashamed. It turned out that he was the minister that had performed the actual ceremony.

I spent the next five minutes trying to engage in polite conversation. And it was. He introduced me to his wife and never once did he let on that he was offended by my ignorant assumption. I was so concerned with saving face and trying to make-up for my remark that I didn’t even notice that my wife and kids had gotten all four of our suitcases off of the baggage conveyor. Two of which were quite heavy.

I’ve shared this incident with my wife and a friend of mine, who happens to be African-American. Maybe I felt that sharing this with him would absolve me of any guilt I should feel. But it shouldn’t and it didn’t.

To this day I still can’t get over why I made those remarks. I think of myself as someone who is very culturally proficient and values and respects everyone for who they are and where they’re from. And I still think that I do. But I am owning my ignorant remark.

I have complete control over the words that come out of my mouth. Yes, social media is pervasive. Yes, we are bombarded each and every day with stereotypes. But that is no excuse for a 45-year-old who considers himself above making remarks like the one I made.

The crazy thing is I know many more African-American ministers than I do African-American dj’s. So why? Why did those words come out of my mouth? I don’t know. No excuses. Just moving forward.

Hopefully I can make this a learning experience. First and foremost I need to stop and think before I allow words to come out of my mouth. Because I believe with all of my heart, that if I had done so, I would not have made such an ignorant remark.

In moving forward I am trying to become as cognizant as I can of all of my actions and all of my words. The only thing I can do now is aim to be better than I was yesterday and lead by example.

A week after my airport incident I went into a Mexican restaurant to pick up a carry out meal. When I opened the door to the restaurant, right away I recognized the young girl working at the front desk. I smiled and said, hi Jennifer, it’s good to see you. I picked up my food, paid my bill and walked to my car.

As I sat down and got ready to drive away it hit me. The girl that I had spoken to was not Jennifer. Her name was Najeli. Jennifer was the name of another Hispanic student who had I knew from the school where I last worked. While both girls are Hispanic and about the same age, they look nothing alike.

I then thought to myself, what must this girl be thinking? That I didn’t remember her name? Or worse yet, that I simply confused her with Jennifer because they are both Hispanic? I didn’t feel good about either possibility. So I did what I felt was right. After a minute or two of self-reflection, I went back into the restaurant. Apologized to the young girl. And made it clear to her that I knew her name.

My apology did not excuse my airport incident. I am trying to become a better person each day. That is all I can ever hope for.


If you'd like to listen to the new episode of My Bad in which I discuss the incident that prompted me to write this post, click


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Jon is currently the assistant principal at Sandy Hill Elementary School in Cambridge, Maryland. This is his sixth year serving as an assistant principal at the elementary level. Prior to becoming an administrator he served as a Math Coach and an elementary school teacher. During his ten years as a classroom teacher he taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades. During his sixth year teaching he earned Nationally Board Certification, which he held for ten years. For seven years he ran a Young Gentleman's Cub that was aimed at helping young men reach their full potential. 


Jon received a B.A. from Furman University while majoring in Philosophy. He later went on to earn his B.S from Salisbury University while majoring in Elementary Education. Jon was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to student teach in New Zealand. He eventually received his M.A. degree from Salisbury University in Public School Administration. 


Jon lives in Cambridge, Maryland with his amazing wife and two awesome children.











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Guest Tuesday, 25 October 2016