We’ve heard folks from “different” cultures say they’re tired of black folks being so easily offended. Well, if someone steps on your toe, of course it’s easy for someone on the sidelines to say, “I don’t get it. It doesn’t hurt me.” The nation has come a long way in some regards when talking about race relations. But, there are still many in this nation who long for the “good ol’ days” when the concept of “white supremacy” was not questionable political concept but merely a fact of life.
Despite what some folks might think, there are some corners of this country in which race is still the determining factor in one’s consideration. No matter how intelligent (see the case of the young African student who recently was admitted to all eight Ivy League schools with incredible SAT schools), talented or rich you might be, you are still the N-word in some places. You can be president of the United States, but to some you are still just an N-word. You can be on the Supreme Court of the nation and pretend that race doesn’t matter, but we caution you against driving through the wrong affluent part of a strange town at night.
Yes, there has been significant progress but there is still much work to be done.
I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway
A retired Major League Baseball player explains how he’s trying to turn an upsetting encounter with the police into an opportunity for dialogue.
The author as a Chicago Cub in 2003, following through on a leadoff home run. (Reuters)
It was an otherwise ordinary snow day in Hartford, Connecticut, and I was laughing as I headed outside to shovel my driveway. I’d spent the morning scrambling around, trying to stay ahead of my three children’s rising housebound energy, and once my shovel hit the snow, I thought about how my wife had been urging me to buy a snowblower. I hadn’t felt an urgent need. Whenever it got ridiculously blizzard-like, I hired a snow removal service. And on many occasions, I came outside to find that our next door neighbor had already cleared my driveway for me.
Never mind that our neighbor was an empty-nester in his late 60s with a replaced hip, and I was a former professional ballplayer in his early 40s. I kept telling myself I had to permanently flip the script and clear his driveway. But not today. I had to focus on making sure we could get our car out for school the next morning. My wife was at a Black History Month event with our older two kids. The snow had finally stopped coming down and this was my mid-afternoon window of opportunity.
Just as I was good-naturedly turning all this over in my mind, my smile disappeared.
A police officer from West Hartford had pulled up across the street, exited his vehicle, and begun walking in my direction. I noted the strangeness of his being in Hartford—an entirely separate town with its own police force—so I thought he needed help. He approached me with purpose, and then, without any introduction or explanation he asked, “So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?”
All of my homeowner confidence suddenly seemed like an illusion.