To the editor,
I have always been an avid civil rights supporter but realized that as a Caucasian growing up in a middle class family in America I could never really appreciate at a “gut” level the fear that people of color have often had to live with on a daily basis. That is still certainly the case, but I feel just a little closer to that understanding now, for reasons I would never have predicted.
NPR and other public news sources have graphically described the threats of random attack that African-Americans have historically had to live with on a daily basis, especially but by no means exclusively (read Trayvon Martin) in the pre-civil rights movement. They had to live with the knowledge that on any day, at any time, without reason, they could be verbally or physically attacked in a random fashion, having nothing to do with where they were, what they were doing or anything at all except for the color of their skin.
I regularly ride a bicycle about 7 miles per day for fitness on the back roads of State Road in rural North Carolina. On some days these rides are wonderfully peaceful and provide great scenery along with healthful aerobic exercise. On other days I have been chased, harassed and sometimes (4 times in the last 18 months) bitten by unsupervised dogs. This can occur totally randomly and unpredictably, without any provocation on my part. My rides are now colored by the realization that I may be attacked anywhere, anytime and for no reason. I am not by nature a fearful person but these days fear always hitches a ride with me. On a profoundly smaller scale, there is a similarity to the fear that millions of people of color have experienced on a daily basis over far too long a time. I will never fully understand their fear but I now feel a little closer to being able to do so.
Dennis Bauman, M.D.