The day I got the living shit beaten out of me. [View all]
Her name was Heather, I was 13, she was Black, and she was my first real girlfriend. We were together for two weeks when the Boston Marathon came along. I grew up on the Newton/Brighton line, right by Boston College at the top of Heartbreak Hill. Heather had never been to the Marathon for real before - cheering the runners as they defeated Heartbreak Hill while the BC keg parties howled and cheered - so I showed her the show.
While I was walking her back to my house for some lunch, a car filled with upperclassmen from my school passed us. The car windows were stuffed with astonished faces that, as they faded from view, became twisted in palpable rage.
And person after person after person after person looked daggers at us as we walked arm in arm down Commonwealth Avenue in unabashedly liberal Boston, Massachusetts. I rode the Green Line with her to the Orange Line - the metropolitan version of walking your girl home - and five older men in the traincar stared at us with open loathing as we held hands.
The next day, I went to school, and the upperclassmen from the car that had passed us - joined by several of their friends because apparently word of my racial heresy had spread - waylaid me in a hallway. "What are you doing with that n****r!" they screamed, and I mean SCREAMED, utterly unhinged. "Did you dip your wick with that n****r? DID YOU FUCK THAT N****R? DID YOU?"
And then they beat the shit out of me, right then and there, for the crime of squiring a Black girl to the Marathon.
It was a formative experience on a variety of levels...so all of you husbanding this idea that the North is superior to the South on issues of racism can go pound sand. You're wrong, and once upon a time, I had the bruises to prove it.