Ed. Note: I’m not relaying the following incident because I’m looking for an atta boy. I’m also not naive and realize that hateful people exist in the world. However, in my experiences I haven’t encountered incidents like the following in DC so I was totally shocked. I’m also going to quote some pretty hateful language but I feel it is necessary to get the point across.
On Saturday night/Sunday morning at 2:30 am I was chatting with a friend on her stoop in Mt. Pleasant. A neighbor of hers was walking by and decided to sit with us. A very good looking girl walked by a few minutes later and the neighbor escorted her home. Not long afterward two black men walked down the street. The neighbor looks over at me and says, “you see with the way she was dressed, I’m glad I walked her home with these niggers on the block”.
It was like I was punched in the face. I mean literally. I instantly had a huge adrenaline surge and all I could say was “we DON’T say that where I am from!” then we stared each other down for a few seconds in silence that felt like an hour. Believe me, I am not a macho person at all but I was fully prepared to get into an all out street brawl with this guy. I don’t really know what overcame me. I definitely am glad I didn’t let his comments slide but fighting is rarely an appropriate response. I think I was so upset in part because I have so many amazing black neighbors who I truly love and respect. It just killed me that they have to deal with an asshole like this living in our city.
So anyway, he goes on to say, “you don’t understand, I’ve lived on this block for 15 years” and I respond “We DON’T say that where I am from!” It was really odd, every time he spoke all I could say was “We DON’T say that where I am from!” it was like my brain totally froze and couldn’t produce any other words. He finally says, “I see that I have offended you”. And of course all I could say was “We DON’T say that where I am from!”. Fortunately no punches were thrown and he finally walks away. And I was left with my friend on her stoop nearly speechless.
Then I caught a cab ride home from an elderly black gentleman. All I could think about was that I can’t believe what this cab driver must have experienced in his life and that the racism that he surely experienced in the 50s/60s was still alive today. I believe that this Mt. P resident is a poison on our streets just like drug dealers are.
I hope whether it is racism or any other type of hate speech, if we hear people uttering it we will not let it slide and calmly explain that that type of language is unacceptable.