12 December 2014


I went to put fuel in my car last night (it was either give in and fill the tank or test just exactly how much fuel I have left after the fuel light starts to come on intermittently), and the guy working at the gas station was young, friendly, and black. He was wearing a lumberjack hat with flaps down over his ears that flopped around when he turned his head. 

I was struck, again, again, again, by the fundamental unfairness of the world. 

It is not fair that this nice young man (I feel old) should have to worry when he goes out into the world that he will be stopped by the police for things that I can do without concern, and that after he gets stopped he has to worry that if he doesn't keep his hands in exactly the right place and act exactly the right level of compliant, he might be arrested or shot. It is not fair.*

It happened again today. I read this article in the New York Times about how black girls in school are punished more harshly than white girls, and darker-skinned black girls are punished more harshly than lighter-skinned black girls. It is not fair. 

Sometimes I just want to go out into the world and show people, and say, "See? It isn't fair." I want to believe that everyone would see that if I showed them, and everyone would want to fix it.

It isn't fair. 

And it should be.


* Note that this is not a criticism of police officers. It is a criticism of institutional racism that permeates all of us, including police officers. See, for example, this article on How Our Brains Perceive Race. In order to change things, we have to fight the patterns with which our brains have become comfortable. We ALL have to fight the patterns with which our brains have become comfortable. 

And the thing about comfortable patterns is that it is hard to break out of them. It is hard even to want to break out of them because, well, it's uncomfortable. But we have to do it, if we want to make this world better.

I want to believe that we all want to make this world better. 

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