Wednesday, April 25, 2007

All he was doing was recycling....

A friend sent me an email linking this story from AlterNet, and it's one that I wanted to share with you because I think it points out one of the huge problems we have right now in this country when it comes to fear and bias merely on the basis of someone's skin color. I really recommend reading the whole article but I will share with you the three main parts...

How it begins:
On April 19, after a day of teaching classes at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, I went out to my car and grabbed a box of old poetry manuscripts from the front seat of my little white Beetle, carried it across the street and put it next to the trashcan outside Wright Hall. The poems were from poetry contests I had been judging and the box was heavy. I had previously left my recycling boxes there and they were always picked up and taken away by the trash department.

What happens:
Because of my recycling, the bomb squad came, then the state police. Because of my recycling, buildings were evacuated, classes were canceled, the campus was closed. No. Not because of my recycling. Because of my dark body. No. Not even that. Because of his fear. Because of the way he saw me. Because of the culture of fear, mistrust, hatred and suspicion that is carefully cultivated in the media, by the government, by people who claim to want to keep us "safe."

How he feels at the end:
My body exists politically in a way I cannot prevent. For a moment today, without even knowing it, driving away from campus in my little Beetle, exhausted after a day of teaching, listening to Justin Timberlake on the radio, I ceased to be a person when a man I had never met looked straight through me and saw the violence in his own heart.

1 comment:

Hooda Thunkit said...

That's often what happens when one judges based on looks (and preconceptions), rather than on the actions of others.

Sad. . .