|I am 58 years old and this has never happened to me until today.
After dinner this evening as I was watering the front garden, a car full of teen aged boys drove by and one leaned out the passenger window and yelled, "Fuck you N*****!".
No one has ever yelled that at me before.
My back was to the street and so I had to turn around to see who was threatening me. A dumb white kid, surrounded by other white kids, was hanging out the passenger side window. Clearly proud of his bravado, he wore a huge grin and displayed an extended middle finger, as he accosted me for the entertainment of his friends.
I must admit I was surprised to be assaulted in this fashion. I have lived in this neighborhood since I was five, kids don't drive around verbally harassing old people here. At least not to my knowledge.
And I have German and Irish ancestry. And look like it.
Regardless of this fact, it was an unnerving moment. In my own front yard, minding my own business and teenagers intrude in my life in such an ugly way.
I don't suppose they will return to terrorize me or my family but I can imagine how one might feel if that threat was real.
I hope, one or more of the kids in that car, find themselves in my history class this coming fall. I plan to develop a lesson around this event, highlighting the psychology of group behavior, the identification of the other in society, and the use of racial epithets and other derogatory language toward innocent bystanders, and the impact that has on those accosted.
I don't get the thrill of being nasty toward strangers.