By Joseph Logsdon
John Sterling lived in a very strange world. At first glance, people seemed very tolerant, but secretly, racism and prejudice was still very much alive. One peaceful afternoon, John decided to fire his most trusted employee. It wasn't that John didn't like him, it was just that he couldn't afford to keep him on the payroll. Even though John knew that Patrick was a black man, he still had the courage to terminate him.
"You wanted to see me, Mr. Sterling?"
"Patrick, I'm glad you could make it," John replied as Patrick entered the office.
"Have I done something wrong?"
"Why? Do you think you've done something wrong?"
"I don't know, I honestly don't know," Patrick stuttered.
"Patrick, I can assure you, you've done nothing wrong," he stated.
"Why do you want to see me, then?"
"As you know, our company hasn't been doing very well," John stated.
"Yeah, I know," Patrick replied.
"Because of that, we've been terminating certain staff members," he stated.
"Surely, I'm worth keeping?"
"Believe me, nothing would make me happier, but sadly, I have no choice. Try to understand, I never wanted it to be this way. You're a very talented man, and, with any luck, you'll go very far in life. I'm not doing this because I want to, I'm doing this because I have to," John stated.
"Yes, but why me?"
"What do you mean, why you?"
"Let's be honest, if I were a white man, you wouldn't even try to get rid of me, would you?"
"This isn't about race, it's about the future of this company," John replied.
"Patrick, watch your language," John commanded.
"From the moment I saw you, I knew you were an ignorant, cowardly racist!"
"You're out of line!"
"I get no respect, especially from privileged, snobbish white men," Patrick exclaimed.
"Shut up, Patrick! Just because some people are racist, doesn't mean that everyone is! In your misguided mind, if a person of another color offends you in any way, you assume that they did it because they're racist. That, without a doubt, is very poor logic! Slavery, whether you like it or not, is no longer relevant in the modern world. Patrick, in the end, you're the racist, not me. Frankly, you make me sick," John stated.
"You'll regret this," Patrick threatened as he left the office.
The following afternoon, John was frightened as a police officer entered his office. As much as he wanted to run, John knew that he would have to face the imposing man.
"Mr. Sterling, you need to come with me," the officer commanded.
"Why? Have I committed a crime?"
"You've committed a very serious crime," the officer replied.
"What do you mean?"
"Racism, without question, is a very serious crime," the officer stated.
"Officer, I'm not a racist. Also, the last time I checked, being a racist wasn't a crime," he stated.
"It wasn't, at least, not until a few days ago," the officer replied.
"What are you talking about?"
"It's a new law, one that will be enforced without mercy. Now, are you going to go the easy way, or the hard way?"
"This has to be a joke," John exclaimed.
"If you think that this is a joke, you're going to have a very hard time in prison," the officer stated.
"I swear, I'm not a racist," he whimpered.
"Tell it to the judge," the officer stated.
Handcuffed and bound, John was found guilty. For the rest of his life, he would regret his behavior as he rotted in a small, damp prison. He would be remembered, not because of his career, but because of his legendary status as the first person to be formally convicted of bigotry.