I live in a predominantly white neighborhood so the odds are automatically against me. I workout/jog around the area in peace and from time to time will speak with a few neighbors. Some of the people have taken a liking to me and that’s great because the worse is to be uncomfortable where you live. It wasn’t always like this at first though. When I first moved in, I can tell by the faces that they were trying to figure out how I landed in this area so were suspicious and afraid. They thought that I was some sort of entertainer/musician, sports player or inherited some money. I know this now after living here for quite some time, but back then I didn’t.
Now when I would be walking down the street and there so happened to be a white man/woman who was in front of me about 20 feet away, they would turn their head back and begin to slow down tremendously until I passed them. They would stay at a distance, but follow. One lady clenched onto her purse while I walked right by her. This would happen on several occassions and I found it weird. There would be times when I would walk towards a white man/woman and once they saw me would cross the street entirely or would start walking on the street and give me the entire sidewalk. This was weird to me as well.
One day while I was headed to the track for my workout, this young girl who was walking in the same direction did the same thing everyone else did – slow down and let me pass them while they walked behind me. I walked to the side of her and asked “Why did you do that?” She replied “my parents told me that we should be careful of walking by ourselves and a black man is present just in case”. JUST IN CASE???
I can only imagine what else these parents are telling their children about black people. **REMEMBER, CHILDREN ARE TAUGHT RACISM** I was shocked and just said “oh ok” then kept it moving. No point of trying to continue with that conversation. I decided to ask the next adult that would do the same thing and ask for their reasoning behind this act.
Walking to the store and same thing happened whereas this middle aged man slowed down and waited for me to pass him, but instead of walking by I walked to his side and asked him the same question I asked the young woman. The man said it is what they are accustomed to. If you don’t look like them, then you are not to be trusted until tested. Stay out the way just in case there may be a confrontation or some sort of problem.
We got into a deep conversation about our point of views about each other and the do’s and don’t and concluded that we are all racist at the end of the day and he said that it is just a natural reflex for himself as a white man to look at us or any other race as someone not to be trusted until tested…..sad right?