So I don't do a whole lot of shout outs to different companies or what not, because they don't give me... I don't get any endorsements from them, right? But there is a place that I absolutely love at the Mall of America. That's a plug. All right, and its Nordstrom Rack. I'm a shoe dude. I don't know if you... I like shoes. Shoes are like... I don't know, I think they make... Shoes and belts, shoes and belts make an outfit. It doesn't... If you got nice shoes and a good belt, you got an outfit.
So I'm at Nordstrom Rack and I'm in the shoe aisle. And their shoe aisles are amazing, because it is like the Matrix. So you stand and it is just like rows of shoes everywhere. I love the shoe aisle. So I'm standing in the shoe aisle and I'm trying to find the perfect shoe on... I'm hunting for big game, right? So I'm in the shoe aisle and in the next aisle, I hear a bunch of teenagers and they're using the "N" word.
They are referring to each other in a... Using the "N" word. Right? Now, the "N" word is very confusing for white people because they are like, Why is it bad for me to say, but black people call themselves that all the time." Well, let me just tell you, not all black people call themselves that and you still can't say it. I mean like there are things that you... Somebody... You can talk about your mama and you can talk about cousins, but nobody else can talk about your cousin and your mama, right? But we'll get back to the "N" word later in the story.
But at any rate, so the kids were calling each other the "N" word back and forth. And, "What's up, man?" And, "Hey, man," and "Aw, man..." Like that, right? And so much so, that they weren't catching a breath in between using the "N" word. So as a stand up member of the community, a diversity trainer, a person out to make sure that our young people are engaged in positive activity, I said to myself, "If they say it one more time, I will say something."
Yeah. So guess what happened? They said it one more time. Now, I don't know about you, but I personally am not afraid of kids. Right? Because I can... But I do have a respect for young people, and I know sometimes they can get out of hand. Right? So I try to interact with everyone that I interact with in very positive ways. And so, I kind of garnered up my courage and because I said I was going to walk over there, I decided to follow through because something I want to follow through, right?
So I decided to follow through. So I walked over there and I kind of stand over there and I say, "Excuse me, would you guys mind not using the "N" word?" And they stopped, just stopped. And one of the bigger boys of the group kind of parts the group and he comes face to face to with me. And so, I kind of puff my chest a little bit and he puffs his chest a little bit. And I kind of lift my chin and he kind of lift his chin, and I kind of brace myself and he kind of leans a little bit because he was taller than I was.
I used to wrestle in high school so I know how to... I did restraints when I work in residential treatment centers so I know what to do, right? So I'm ready. And he looks over at me and he kind of clears his throat and he looks down at me and he says, "Yes, sir." Not quite what I was expecting. So he says, "Yes, sir," and he turns back around. So I mean, outside I was cool. All right, thank you. All right, good, good.
On the inside I was like, "Wow! We made a difference!" Right? And I wouldn't think that was amount. What was going on there? I mean, these are kids that folks would label them thugs or gangsters or be afraid of. And what did I do to those kids? Well, it's been made very clear to me that everybody needs direction and everybody has goals and desires. At the same time, everybody wants to be accountable to somebody for something.
Will those kids go off and use the "N" word in public and with each other? Probably. Will those kids think about their behavior out in the public? More than likely, they will. Did I change the world? No, I didn't change the world. However, what I did do was make them accountable for being a part of a community. I hear people say, "Well, we got to take back our communities, and we got to do this to our communities and snatch these back from other folks."
No, all we really have to do is have standards on our community. We have to stand up and say these are things that are not acceptable and these are things that are acceptable, and we can be in this together. Could I preach to those kids? Yeah, I could preach to them. "That word is a bad word. Don't use that word, blah, blah, blah." But no, I didn't choose to go that route because priest speech, so forth and so on.
But what I did say to them was that I have some standards, and I respect you and I want you to respect me, too. So what is it that you stand for?
Andre's purpose is to reconnect people to their Dignity and Honor in Being Human.