Saturday, August 27, 2016

What Is Racism?


From 1970 until 2009 I lived in Washington, D.C., with time off for good behavior: four years in Salt Lake City, a year in Baltimore and a year in Berkeley, California. During my D.C. days I was mugged in the parking lot of a Safeway supermarket, had my car stolen from a repair shop in Takoma Park, Maryland (three blocks over the city line), had my home on Capitol Hill broken into, lost two white friends to murder during their home invasion in D.C.'s Logan Circle neighborhood, and had another one raped by two men while she was pregnant with twins, her husband forced to watch in their Georgetown apartment. More recently, the young white son of a longtime friend had his throat slit as he was about to enter his home in a trendy and affluent area of the city one summer night.

On a trip to New York City during that same time period my handbag containing my wallet, some Traveler's Checks and a personal checkbook was stolen, its leather strap cut by a seemingly nice old lady who bumped into me while I was shopping in the coat department of Macy's flagship department store. All of these crimes were committed by people of African American descent.

Since moving to Maine seven years ago I have not been the victim of a crime, nor have any of my friends or family. Here's my question: Does simply recounting the facts of my personal experience make me a racist?

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