I'm about to admit one of my most cringe-worthy life memories. When I was in my early 20's, I went out to dinner with some other grad students and two professors, one white and from an Eastern European country and the other black and American. The Eastern European professor asked a question about race and prejudice in America. I immediately jumped in and declared in my vast and pertinent 22-year-old white girl experience, that prejudice in the U.S. is now entirely based on socio-economic status rather than race... Oh, yes I did. The black professor very gently but firmly stated that he didn't agree and related his more relevant opinion. He was so kind about it that it took a few years for me to realize what an ass I had been.
I have four sons. If they were black my concerns and fears for them would be different and much, much scarier. There are things I don't have to worry about because my boys are white. When they learn to drive, my rules for them will be almost entirely about their physical safety while moving at high speeds. I won't have to worry about police perceptions. The stupid things my boys will inevitably do are much less likely to end in their incarceration or death because they are white. No matter what you think of the Zimmerman verdict, the fact of the matter is that if Trayvon Martin had been white, he would be alive. That situation escalated because he was black. And that, my friends, is an American tragedy.
Photo by Ralph Lee/ Dexter Rachel.