Thursday, June 11, 2020

Nigerian in the House

The following is my opinion and remembrance of a racist event.

I grew up with educated parents who worked for the Federal Govt., State Govt., and County Govt.  My dad, a geneticist with a Master’s Degree in Animal Husbandry from the University of Florida was the Superintendent of the Beef Cattle Research Station north of Brooksville Florida.  It was a cooperative with the USDA and the State of Florida. My mom worked in the County Govt. as an Administrative Asst.  

The USDA hosted a tour by a prominent Nigerian, who held a doctorate in Animal Husbandry.  His tour of the cattle industry in Central Florida was hosted by my dad, W.C. Burns.  My dad had booked a room at the only motel in town months in advance.  When he attempted to check in this highly educated man from Nigeria, the desk clerk informed my dad that only whites were allowed to stay at the hotel.  My first real experience with racism was a topic of discussion that night at our dinner table, where my parents hosted our Nigerian guest.  Our guest slept in one of our beds, ate at our table, bathed in our bathtub, urinated and defecated in our toilets and sat in our living room.  My parents were from Texas and New Mexico and didn’t have the same racist roots as we would come to discover in our small town. 

My dad would never again book any guest into the El Motel, and instead, he always kicked one of his boys out of their bed and hosted them himself.  It was a treat for us to experience conversations with the leading agricultural minds of that era.  Mom and dad spoke of the ostracism they experienced for allowing an African to stay in our house.  He and mom expressed with deep profanity, how they didn’t give a shift what so and so said, and it didn’t bother them a hair on a rat’s ask what anyone thought about them.  They told us who had ostracized them and gave us lessons on white hypocrisy and banned us from racism and from befriending the socially elite racists in our little town.  Mom and dad had a strong Western Cultured independence and did not cower to the racist in our town.  Mom and dad were active in the civic affairs in our town and were popular among the people that mattered most.  They had tons of friends and taught us by example to be true to your convictions no matter the cost.

Fast forward a few years when I began my campaign to be the Student Council President in 1971/72.  I was mentored by David Sasser and my brother Walter, as I had been elected on the Student Councils, they were president of in 1969/70 and 70/71.  The heir apparent to serve as my vice president was a son of a prominent doctor in our town, but instead, another candidate is who I asked to be my running mate.  He was a great athlete and popular with everyone and hosted a huge Afro.  Jimmy Baylor was a powerful fullback and was very likable.  Burns and Baylor for President and Vice-President was our simple ticket.  I can remember distinctly the socially elite ostracism I experienced from the friends of the Doctor’s family.  To this day, I can remember the tightening of my stomach and the resolve of my mind to not bow down to the racists of our community manifested by the young man who had assumed he would be my vice president.  We were elected by a huge majority and after high school I have lost touch with Jimmy Baylor.

Now that I am an adult, it grieves me to groan in non-verbal utterances the absolute sinfulness of racism among the white elite and the not so elite.   As a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams it is an honor to follow Fair Housing laws, and not engage in racist practices like Redlining and Blockbusting.  I am proud to stand side by side those of African heritage and to serve as teammates and be an agent of people of all ethnicities.

It would be an honor to serve any and all real estate needs and wants.  Through the international referral network of Keller Williams with the Redux Group, I can assist people worldwide. You can find us on Facebook at