Thursday, April 9, 2015

Started my morning with some Boston subway racial tensions

This morning on my way to work, I witnessed an interesting scene on the subway. The more I think back about it, the more I find it to be pretty illustrative of racial issues in American society.
My morning commute starts deep in the suburbs of Newton - one of the largest well-off middle class suburbs of Boston. It is also predominantly white. I get on the train and make my way all the way to the back to find a seat. The car is still semi-empty. All the way in the back of the train there are two black dudes. One of them has a hard hat on the seat next to him. I sit down one seat over so that he wouldn't have to move his stuff and get my book. From snippets of their conversation I can gather that they are both coming back from a job because they are talking about time sheets, etc. They are not anyhow threatening but they are louder than what people on this subway line are normally used to. The train slowly gets more and more filled as we move towards Boston. Eventually a hipster looking white guy wants to sit on the seat currently occupied by the black guy's hard hat. Aware of this, the dude takes his stuff and moves it out of the way. The white dude sits down and somehow get's in the black dude's way in the process. Instead of saying anything the white guy is totally silent basically just treating the black guy like an inanimate object. He is trying to avoid confrontation by not even making eye contact or acknowledging the other person as a human being. This doesn't sit well with the black dude and he says something grumpy. A short exchange of unpleasantries follows which ends with the black dude saying "I will knock them stupid glasses right off your face." It doesn't escalate further than that threat though and we all keep riding on the train. A few stops later the white guy leaves and there is a seat available now. Some woman stares at it and walks away to sit elsewhere. The black dude follows her with a "What are you so scared off? I won't do anything." He turns to his friend "They are all so scared..." At this point in time I decide to be a smart mouth and say "Well, you did just threaten to knock the glasses off someone's face like 5 minutes ago." The dude starts to laugh "Yeah, I guess I did, didn't I..." His friend is cracking up too "She got you there man!" The three of us chuckled at this situation and went our separate ways when we got to Park Street. End of story.
That's it. There was no villain and no victim. Did one of them provoke the other with what can be described as inconsiderate and rude behavior? Sure. Did the other immediately threaten with physical violence? Yes. Who is at fault? Hard to say. But both parties left this situation with feelings of resentment towards each other. Thoughts?

No comments:

Post a Comment