So my car was in the shop today, which means the wife and I had to get a zipcar for the day (which is a great plan B to have). The car was ready late this afternoon, and I went to pick it up, but my wife still had to pick young Nyles up in the zipcar. By the time they came home, I found a nice parking spot for my car, which meant I was able to take the zipcar back to its parking space, while the wife talked to Nyles at home after his first day of daycare in 2 weeks (thank God the cold is gone). I say all this not to bore you, but to properly set my scene.
The zipcar that I picked up earlier this morning, and was now returning in the evening, was housed in a parking lot of a hotel just two blocks away from my house. I waved at my Hispanic brothers who were working valet parking, and I pulled the zipcar into its rightful spot, locked the car, and proceeded to walk up the steep hill out of the parking garage, back to the mean city street. As I strode towards the street, a man with a suit and tie on emerged from one of the side door that connects to the hotel. He damn near stood in front of me, and we had the following conversation. Let me further set this scene by mentioning three things:
1) This man was white
2) I am black
3) There were two white men walking ahead of me who were dressed in summer clothes, while I was dressed in work attire, and he said nothing to them--not hello, not stop, nothing at all
Here's what happened:
Hotel guy: Can I help you?
Me: (hearing every word he said, but making him repeat himself): I'm sorry?
HG: Can I help you?
Me: Help me with what?
**there were five seconds of silence followed by five more seconds of mumbling. It sounded like this.
HG: Well you're walking out of the parking lot and I didn't see you drive in so...
Me: I'm still not understanding what I'd need help with in that scenario
**At this point my Hispanic brother (HB) jumps in
HB: He's cool sir, he dropped off a Zipcar
HG: Oh ok
Me: So my brother over there validated me now right?
HB (touching me on my shouler): man don't even sweat it bro, its ok, just walk away
The hotel guy at this point turned beet red, and was babbling some bullshit but I walked away at this point. Now, I am well-aware racism is as alive and well as Tiger Woods' ability to win golf tournaments in 2012. I am also one of those black men who doesn't prematurely cry racism in any given situation. I like to study and assess situations before slapping them with the racism tag--in fact, I'll label someone stupid and ignorant before I hang the scarlet "R" around their neck. But I recognized this situation fairly quickly as racism. The other two guys in front of me (one of whom drove a zipcar too) were not stopped or questioned at all, and they were dressed like they had just come from a day long fishing trip (which actually sounds heavenly). But not only did I get stopped, but this guy blocked my path like I wasn't allowed to leave.
Maybe I overreacted, but I really don't feel like I did...