Newark’s Mayor on Suburban Racism
I’m reading a long article in the NYT Magazine, so long that I may not finish it tonight – and I came across this from Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark:
When I met last month with Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark who at 39 is already something of a national sensation, he told me that he had just finished reading, belatedly, Obama’s memoir “Dreams From My Father.” He said passages about Obama’s youth in Hawaii had reminded him of his own experience with subtle racism in the affluent, mostly white suburb of Harrington Park, N.J. “You know, what it’s like growing up every single day and having people ask to touch your hair because they’ve never seen hair like that,” Booker said. “To have the entire class laugh and giggle when somebody pronounces ‘Niger’ as ‘nigger.’ The constant bombardment of that kind of thing really affects your spirit, and it’s every single day. Like when people want to come back from a vacation and compare their tan to yours and joke about being black.”
I had this discussion with my wife a couple of weeks ago when a friend of ours made a big deal about not understanding how I comb my hair. I was pretty angry about it later and she didn’t understand why. I had trouble explaining it to her, because she couldn’t step into it.
In school I dealt with it because, well kids are stupid – I was too. But I didn’t think I’d have to deal with a 23 year old going on (and on) like that. It’s hard to keep my mind right sometimes.