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“I’m just a normal guy. So don’t be scared.”

Hey man, why you looking so nervous?


I know you’re not used to seeing guys with skin like mine anywhere other than on ESPN or in the news for some crime. But don’t be scared, homie; I’m not here to hurt you.


Clearly, I’m no seven-feet-tall basketball stud who could stare down on mere mortals of six feet as my playthings. Nah, I’m barely average height — probably shorter than you are. And I’m not built like a miniature hulk who could throw you the length of a football field like those behemoths in the NFL, either. I spend more time at the library than at the gym. I’m just a normal guy.


So don’t be scared.


I know you saw me eyeing that car and you’re wondering if I have the tools and expertise to just get in and drive away with it. Don’t worry, I’ve hotwired just as many cars as you have. I’m no criminal genius and have no desire to be one. I was probably just admiring the new make and model of that shiny Lexus. Or the racing spoiler on the Scion that reminded me of a car I used to drive.


So don’t be scared.


I know you saw me reaching into my pocket and your heart started to race a little.


Don’t be scared.


I’m not reaching for a gun or a switchblade so I can rob you. I don’t own a switchblade and have never even shot a gun. I probably have no greater access to deadly weapons than any other 19-year-old with an Internet connection and student debt.


I’m probably just reaching into my sweatshirt for my cell phone so I can call up my mom or girlfriend or maybe just check the latest sports scores. Maybe I’m digging into my jean pockets for some gum or candy or cigarettes that I picked up so I can enjoy a pointless habit. Or I could be looking to arm myself with my iPod so I can change the song to Bob Marley, or Marvin Gaye, or Lynyrd Skynyrd, or the Beatles.


So don’t be scared, homie.


I’m probably just walking home so I can watch the All-Star game with my father and little cousin. Because I have family too, filled with lots of young black men who will grow up with your suspecting eyes constantly leering at them.


But we like candy and iced tea and cell phones. We love to watch hockey, sometimes listen to country music and think about God and family. And even if that’s bullshit, we still wouldn’t want to rob you because I’d like to believe people are good. I’d like to believe that we don’t have enough hate and fear in us to kill and rob a stranger. And I’d like to believe you believe that too.


So don’t be scared, homie.


David Washington is a second-year political science major.

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