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Race Slap -- Writer's Poke #193

We were at a sandwich shop in downtown Washington D.C.

Outside we could see a young black man politely walking up to people. He was clearly asking for money, and I could only hope that he would have moved on down the street by the time we were ready to leave.

Unfortunately, this must have been his corner, because he was still right outside the door when we left. And instead of walking right by him, I acknowledged his presence. You see, I have this terrible problem of looking people in the eyes, whereas when you're in the big city, you must develop the ability to look through people, if you look in their direction at all.

"Excuse me, sir," he said. He wanted to give me his rehearsed speech. Apparently he was a student that had somehow gotten separated from his tour group. And could I spare some money so that he could purchase a subway ticket?

I acted sympathetically, but I declined to give him any money. Immediately, his body language changed, and so did his tone. "It's because I'm black, isn't it?" His words felt like a slap in the face, and I just walked on past him, secretly worrying that he might pull out a knife and stab me in the back.

Have you ever been accused or racism (or sexism or hetreosexualism, etc.)? If so, how did you respond to the accusation?

"All that I care to know is that a man is a human being -- he can't be any worse." -- Mark Twain


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