The New York Times published a diatribe from a black reporter Wednesday, in which he slammed “white women” for not getting out of his way as he walks through Manhattan.
In the article, called “Was That Racist?” the Times published a series of short stories supposedly describing the complexities of figuring out if someone has been racist to you.
“Everyday life brings awkward moments for everyone, but some of our daily stories are infused with added tension, especially if one or more of those involved perceive that race is a determining factor,” the intro to the article says.
But one of the stories, from Sunday Metropolitan reporter Greg Howard, seems to have its own problems with racism. Describing himself as a “good walker” who is also courteous with changing sides, speed, or moving around pedestrians in the Big Apple, he says that, while most other pedestrians do the same, “white women, at least when I’m in their path, do not.”
He then launches into a rant about how “white women” — not “some white women,” or “certain white women,” or “white women of a certain background/age/location” — just don’t seem to be able to get out the male reporter’s way:
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 says he gets out of the way because, “as a black man, I’ve learned that bodychecking, bumping or even rubbing against a random white woman can be personally hazardous.”
He says he changes his stride even if they don’t and notes that “white men and all people of color” offer him the same courtesy.
He then says he’s left with a series of questions about why white women won’t get out of his way, inviting the conclusion that they are in fact racist and fearful of black men:
After these encounters, I’m always left with questions. Why only and specifically white women? Do they refuse to acknowledge me because they’ve been taught that they should fear black men, and that any acknowledgment of black men can invite danger? Do they refuse to acknowledge me because to alter their route would be to show their fear? Do they not see me? Can they not see me?
The only self-reflection Howard has about his diatribe is to ask himself why he gets out of their way in the first place:
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.
He notes that “there have always been white women in my life,” even assuring the reader that some of his friends are white women, but he adds that, when he asks them about why “they” don’t reroute for black men, “they invariably express ignorance.”
“Whenever that happens, another question always arises: Wait, am I crazy? But then I ask black men. Invariably, they know what I’m talking about,” he says.
Just to make his argument absolutely ironclad, he polishes it off with a story from an unidentified “Asian friend” who offers another perspective.
“A couple of weeks ago, I asked an Asian friend if he had the same experience of white women not getting out of his way. He said no. For whatever reason, white women see him just fine. The people who don’t, he said, are white men,” he writes.