I was mugged in the fall of 2005, on a walk near my neighborhood in Rochester NY, around midnight. I was alone; two kids (16 yo) came up to me. One of them had a metal pipe and whacked me in the back of the neck. About an inch higher and he’d have cracked my skull open.
Lucky for me there was an off-duty security guard/former cop watching. He came to my rescue. The irony to me was that they’d even pick me: I had $7 on me at the time; I was in the midst of a post-college theatre job which provided a place to live and paid me $25 / week. Not exactly dressed for success.
For months afterwards my whole body clenched any time I was alone and saw a black kid in a hoodie. I had serious conversations with myself and friends: had this incident made me a racist? Had my insides been rewired so that anytime I saw a black kid at night I’d be scared?
I was not ok with this idea, for moral and practical reasons. But for a long time that was the reaction my body had.
Then one night, walking alone, my heart clenched again. Only this time it was a white dude in a hoodie. Turns out I was just scared of dudes in hoodies. At night.
Obviously still not ideal. But I was relieved that I was only scared of dudes in hoodies, instead of black dudes in hoodies. Now hoodies don’t even scare me. Onesies, sure, but…
Listen, I know some brown dudes flew into the World Trade Center. It’s understandable that some of us have an uncontrollable physical reaction of fear; that’s how our bodies are wired. That doesn’t make every brown dude guilty. And it doesn’t mean any time shit like Copley Square goes down that it was a brown dude.
Waco, OK City, Atlanta, Newtown, Columbine, Aurora: MIDDLE CLASS WHITE DUDES.
That’s me. And probably a lot of you reading this.
There are so many wonderful people in the world of all colors, and there are just a few dickheads. We’re at a time in history when those dickheads have a lot of power and can incite a lot of fear. Don’t give them more power by creating your own fear and turning against the good folks.
Have we learned nothing from skittles? Taste the rainbow.