“For those of you who don’t know me,” he repeated, “I’m Rudolph Lomax. I’ve been in this business as long as most of you have been on this earth. I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to see you young Black journalists thinking about something else besides yourselves.”
Who is she? Why haven’t I seen her around before? How can I get a number or something? At that moment, it dawned on me that we should have asked everyone to introduce themselves before we began. It had been a mistake to simply start the meeting as soon as enough people arrived. I got up. Flashed a smile at Allison, and then put on a thoughtful face. “Mr. Lomax is right,” I started only to be interrupted by an “I ain’t into all that, son. Just call me Rudolph.” I gestured agreement with my hands, then bowed slightly. “I think Rudolph is on the money. I’ve only been a professional journalist for about three years. I’m caught in the trenches. I’m no longer a rookie, not quite a journeyman. But, the truth is, I’ve been around long enough to know that what’s happening should not be happening.”
I stole another glance at the fox. She smiled. She seemed to agree. She looked interested. I took a couple of steps to the right for a better angle. Her hips curved gracefully, accentuating her narrow waist, luring my attention again to her inviting legs.
I’ve always liked women with great legs. I’ve always thought of long legs as a kind of runway for the takeoff and the landing. The fox must have read my thoughts. She blushed and nervously broke my gaze. I looked at Allison and arrested a wince.
“We’re Good Will merchandise. Soldiers for the Salvation Army. They think of us as damaged goods in need of repair. They take us in, and then stack us in a corner where we wait for the Good Negro Seal of Approval. Once they have trained us to do the jobs like they want them done, then they elevate us to token status. Send us out to turn on our people. To say what they want said about our people under our by-lines. If we don’t perform down to their stipulations, then we’re put back up on the rack for Good Will goods. That’s our spot until we leave or until they get around to fixing us. I believe our agenda ought to be, must be, getting them to agree to better coverage of the community. There’s more going on in our community than murder and mayhem. There’s more to us than social problems. We have values. We have families. We have dreams. We have accomplishments. We may not have much money...” the group chuckled, “but we do the same things they do in their communities, even though you’d never know it by reading the downtown papers or watching the nightly news.”
I paused, giving Roger Steele, who sat on the sofa, a nod, and then I checked out the fox again in the corner of my eye.
Her head was bobbing in slow motion. In rhythm with my words. Punctuating my points. I gestured with my hands flowing above my head. I was ready to take them to church. Roy interrupted. “I’m not sure we can count on better coverage until we get more people on board, better assignments and people in position to determine who gets those assignments,” he snipped, drawing a puff from his pipe.
I nodded. Good point.
Bakman couldn’t hold back any longer. I knew him like a Top 40 hit. We were Ying and Yang. Mutt and Jeff. The Mau-Mau Messengers. I was surprised he had stayed out of the discussion as long as he had. Bakman was a born philosopher and a natural raconteur. The only thing he loved more than hearing himself talk was hearing himself talk some more. He was bound to perform whenever he had an audience of more than one.
“Do you understand what you’re saying? Do you understand what you’re talking about? Where you’re going with this?” Bakman asked, talking loudly as he paced back and forth the length of our living room. “I hope this is the real deal. I hope everybody here realizes that we’re talking about overthrowing a major mindset.”