I have struggled with my reaction to something that happened recently.

 

I know that living in the whitest state in the country, after moving from one of the whitest states, does not give me a lot of interaction with other races. I Googled that fact by the way:

  • Maine 95.5%
  • New Hampshire 95.0%
  • West Virginia 94.3%
  • Iowa 92.9%
  • Idaho 92.1%

I lived in Los Angeles for a few years, so I haven't lived a completely sheltered life. I have always considered myself a very open, person. I judge people by how they act, treat others, and conduct themselves in the world. I have never considered myself racist in the least bit...until recently.

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It was a sunny mid-morning and I was parking at the Presumscot Falls Park parking lot. It's a tiny parking lot off the Allen Avenue Extension in Falmouth. I had always wanted to stop and so I did. I pulled into the lot, next to a car that was already there. It was a car from Massachusetts with about 4 or 5 big guys kinda hanging in and out of the car. Their doors were open and they were just sorta hanging around.

Yes. They were African American.

I went and took a couple of pictures and when I walked back to my car, one of the guys walking around asked if I got the pictures I wanted. I said yes. But I was scared. I was surprised that I was scared. His pants were hanging way down around his underwear and looked a bit disheveled. I didn't chat much beyond answering him politely and got in my car and left.

But I was scared in that parking lot. Because if he was a bad dude, I was in a very vulnerable position. I was in a parking lot that you can't see from the road. I was alone and if he and the other men in the car wanted to do something bad, they could have easily. I would not have had a lot of escape options.

And that is exactly why I'm wondering if I'm racist. No, not the kind that has Nazi paraphernalia and proudly subscribes to groups that make it their life work to be racist. But you don't have to be a white supremacist to be racist. And my reaction made me question all my self-proclaimed wokeness.

Would I have reacted the same if they were white with Maine plates on their car? If they were in Polo shirts? Those are the questions that I have been asking myself over and over again. To be honest, I don't know the answer. I think it would have made a difference if they were dressed differently...and I can't believe I think that. I think that thought alone makes me a racist.

I think writing this, I could be opening up a can of worms. I am not looking forward to the anticipated comments calling me Karen. I am equally not looking forward to comments that I was right to be scared either. But I am stuck. I don't know what to make of my reaction - so...let me have it.

Am I a racist?

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