Hopefully, the NYT can make this into a regular series, so liberal whites can atone endlessly, and to ever deeper and greater levels (“9 People Reveal a Time They Racially Stereotyped a Stranger”):
Years ago, I was at the local park with my little son. He’d thrown his toy into the large pond. As I contemplated how I might retrieve it and still keep my son safe, a group of young black men approached us, dressed in durags, baggy pants and dreads.
My son and I were on the ground and the young men stood over and around us. I didn’t immediately assume we were in any danger, but I did wonder what was going on, since they were intentionally engaging with us.
I consciously did not flinch because I think a lot about racism and I don’t want to be that person. Instead, I smiled at them and said hello.
Short of possessing perfect information about an individual’s intentions, heuristics is in play. The presence of durags, baggy pants and dreads (in conjunction with skin color) serve as a complex nexus of information-bearing traits, which then guides a person’s decision-making. (Were the person above to have noticed a group of black men dressed in khakis or suits, they probably would have been a lot less tense and anxious.)
Naturally, the above story has a happy ending:
Then, one of the young men smiled back and asked if I would like them to retrieve the toy.
I was very touched and of course said, “Yes, please!” They linked hands and reached out into the pond and got the toy.
I had to dab my eyes with a Kleenex on that one.
Now, this above story could have ended in a very different way, in which case the NYT would avoid reporting on it like the plague. (See Derb’s “The Talk”.)
Maybe Jessie Jackson can email in his own sin in this regard:
“There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps… then turn around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”
I wonder why there are no stories of people sinfully stereotyping, say, an Asian person as a potential criminal?