On Race and Fear: The Power of Context

I've been reading the new, thought-provoking book,¬†Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It's a long letter that he wrote to his teenage son.¬† It's not easy reading, and I don't always understand what he has in mind. But this book has me thinking about race differently than I've ever thought about it before. Lack of Fear: An Unearned Privilege Coates comes back again and again to the effect of pervasive racism has on people of color. They, unlike people who … [Read more...]

Do You Feel Safe Sitting on a Bench Enjoying a Summer Day?

I was away on vacation last week. We rented a car and drove to the Berkshires where we stayed in a lovely house overlooking the Housatonic River. The water was high and fast, making splashing and rippling sounds as it went by. Birds came and went from the feeder. We had plenty to eat and wine to drink. We enjoyed the beautiful days and gentle camaraderie of friends. We didn't give a thought to the luxury of feeling safe and unscathed by the world around us. But on … [Read more...]

Saying “Hello” to Strangers: An Unearned Privilege

What do you take for granted? If you're white and middle class, you probably don't expect to be hassled as you go about your day. You don't expect a floor walker to follow you around a store to make sure you don't steal something. You don't expect the receptionist at the doctor's office to be rude. You don't expect to be stopped and frisked for doing absolutely nothing wrong. But you DO expect people to be nice to you, because mostly they are. Respect -- Your … [Read more...]