Whatever happened to the ideal that we are to judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin? I’ve always thought it was a great principle to go by, but apparently for some it’s an impossibly high standard to live up to in this day and age. And one such person seems to be Greg Howard, a writer for the New York Times.
In a recent commentary, Howard expressed anger at white women for not acknowledging his presence by moving to get out of his way as he’s walking down the sidewalk. He classifies such behavior as “rude” and says that it makes him “furious.”
“In New York, so much of my life consists of walking in and through crowds,” he says. “I am, I think, a good walker. I don’t dawdle, and even when walking at high speeds, I’m courteous — always willing to sway to one side, change speed in traffic or even take wide berths around large, lost, child-toting or otherwise compromised gaggles of pedestrians.”
Most people, he says, exhibit similar courteousness–i.e. sharing the sidewalk by veering one’s path slightly to one direction or the other. Or as he puts it: “Almost always, we shift our bodyweight or otherwise detour to make the pass easier for the other.” The sole exception to this, he says, is when he encounters white women.
Sometimes they’re buried in their phones. Other times, they’re in pairs and groups, and in conversation. But often, they’re looking ahead, through me, if not quite at me. When white women are in my path, they almost always continue straight, forcing me to one side without changing their course. This happens several times a day; and a couple of times a week, white women force me off the sidewalk completely. In these instances, when I’m standing in the street or in the dirt as a white woman strides past, broad-shouldered and blissful, I turn furious.
Howard goes on to say that there have been white women in his life who he has counted as “friends and sisters, mothers and lovers,” but that when he encounters those who fail to get out of his way on the sidewalk, he invariably comes away from the experience feeling “small.”
I wonder, too, why I always get out of the way. Why haven’t I ever just walked headlong into a rude white woman? What lessons tug at me, force me off the sidewalk, tell me that my personal space is not necessarily mine? Because explicit in every white woman’s decision not to get out of my way is the expectation that I’ll get out of theirs.
One gets the impression that the writer is obsessed with white women–perhaps to the point of it keeping him awake nights. But the real question is why the New York Times would publish such an article in the first place. This in fact was the very question examined in a recent discussion on Fox News. The guest interviewed on the show calls it “race baiting for the sake of race baiting,” presumably referring to the editorial decision made to publish the piece. Does he have a point?
Just as there are people in this country who seem intent on triggering a world war between the US and Russia, are there also those who desire to ignite a race war here domestically?
We are a torn and divided country and becoming more so, it seems, with each passing day. And there are those who seem to be egging it on.