NYC is a diverse city in many ways, but our diverse climate is not always free from bias.
I see all kinds of people act on their biases on a daily basis. It comes in the form of people treating other people like crap because of who they are and what they look like.
One morning I got on a downtown A train at 190th Street, and grabbed a seat.
Around 145th Street a black man started yelling at a white man who had not given his seat to the elderly Hispanic woman in front of him.
At first the white guy didn’t say anything, so the black guy went off:
“You stupid white people. You just want everything for yourselves. You are so damn rude. You can’t even give up your seat to this old woman. What is wrong with you man?!”
The white guy looked up and said, “Are you talking to me?!”
The black guy said, “Yes I am talking to you. Your are the only white guy sitting down!”
The white guy lifted his hand, which was clutching a white cane with a ball on the bottom, and yelled, “I didn’t stand up BECAUSE I’M BLIND! I DIDN’T SEE HER! If she had asked me to give her my seat, I would have!”
The black man stopped dead in his tracks and everyone was now watching the exchange. Stunned, he started yelling, “OHHHHHHHHHHHHH! OHHHHHHHHHHHHH! OHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”, as he clutched his chest and backed up.
I have never seen anyone so shocked and embarrassed in my entire life.
The white guy yelled, “See! Maybe you shouldn’t just assume things. Now you look like a real asshole.”
And he did.
The man started apologizing profusely. “I am so sorry. I am so very sorry! I didn’t mean it!”
The blind guy yelled, “You are an asshole. Apology not accepted.”
As we continued downtown it was so silent that you could hear a pin drop but everyone was staring at the man who had yelled at the disabled guy. When we got to 59th Street the man ran out of the train and disappeared into the crowd.
It was a great way for a subway car full of passengers to learn that sometimes what you believe can make you look like a real ass.
Thinking before you speak on your assumptions, is still some of the best advice out there.