A few years ago, a friend and I were on our way to our daughters’ rowing regatta, and because of my less than NASA-like sense of direction, (There is a reason I keep a stash of breadcrumbs in my car), we found ourselves in South Jersey rather than in North Princeton. What I vividly remember is not so much my friend’s anger at my geographic shortcoming, so much as his utter fear at the thought of spending even a few minutes in Camden.
“Quick! Lock the doors!”
I am not the most enlightened guy in the Northern Hemisphere, but unlike my chum, who came of age in a small, fairly homogenous New England town, I was fortunate enough to have attended an inner city school which had a significant commitment to financial assistance. The result was that the student body looked like Philadelphia, and Philadelphia, as you may already know, looks a lot like Camden, the city just on the other side of the Delaware River.
Like a lot of folks, I’ve been consumed this past week by the fallout from the George Zimmerman trial. What strikes me in all of this is the palpable sense of fear that stalks the streets of America, and I can’t help but think that a primary source of that fear is a result of our inability to comprehend “the other” — whoever that other might be.
If Trayvon Martin had been sporting UCC hoodie, and if George Zimmerman were an Old Boy, might they have shared some Skittles?