About 4 years ago, my friend Jessica and I were walking in Times Square, la touristas on our way to Central Park via 7th Avenue. Sidewalk entrepreneurs were pedaling their wares—vans displaying basketball jerseys, painters with racks of originals, and stand after stand of every accessory out there. Rap music blared out of a stereo; a song I’d never heard and didn’t seem interested in. Out of politeness I must have nodded to the artist hawking copies of his CD because he suddenly stepped right in front of me, putting his hand on my shoulder.
“Now hold up sweetie,” he said with a charming smile. “Don’t rush off so fast. No need to fear the black man.”
I looked down at his hand and then back up at him. “I have not fear of the black man,” I said. “I am from Compton, California.”