An Ever-Present Dusk

We zoomed down the raggedy road on those shabby machines. We must have been going close to fifteen miles an hour on those thirty year old pieces of junk someone may have once called bikes. While my cousin, Peter, and I bombed down yet another hill, a Cape Cod sun cast a gold aura over the vacation town we call home. Woods Hole: a habitat replete of houses holding hippie, guitar-jamming, dinner parties with open door policies. Peter’s parents were hosting a celebration of this sort as we rode. On the main street of this quaint, unlocked town, there sat only a few choice shops: a couple of cafes, coffee, creamer, and all, and a few bars where the aging Woodstockians go during the night to listen to their friends’ live music. There was no reason to think that there was an ill will among a resident’s neighbors, whom they knew so well. Overall, it was inconceivable to ever think any peace-loving hippie was a malicious criminal. It felt good to be alive.

Still, for hooligans like myself and Peter, paradise can become boring. Peter was like an Olympic runner in the final stretch of a marathon when he broke my lead and sped into oncoming traffic. Through some divine maneuvering he was able to avoid a milky-white Toyota Corolla. Something inside me made me say something: something I am not proud of. In a rush of adrenaline from the newly completed race I yowled, “Peter! Don’t be racist!” only to realize the silhouette conducting the compact vehicle was a six-foot-seven muscular black man. While I write, hyoids may hurtle off my hanger, and femurs may fall off their frames, but when I saw that I might have offended this large black man, I jumped to the conclusion that he was not the type of guy who would let some suburban white punk insult his heritage without retribution. When I looked into this Titan’s eyes the fear that cut deep into my jugular was suffocating. We felt it was a good time to head home.

As Peter and I made our way through Woods Hole, our hearts were filled with the joy of ignorance. Thinking we had escaped the man whom we had offended so, we rode farther. A looming white shadow then appeared in our peripheral vision. Peter stole a glance to confirm what he already knew: the white Corolla had followed us to this well known backstreet and honked a horrific burst of recognition. Knowing our fate if we stopped pedalling, I yelled, “Faster Peter! Faster!” and hastened toward his house. We rounded yet another corner and saw the street sign that spelled salvation. If the car behind us turned on this dead end that my cousin lived on, our fate was sealed. I raced after Peter, whose entrance was shortly followed by the ghost-white sedan. We stood in terrified awe as the silhouette in the death-mobile opened the door.

As fear crushed our spirits and death neared the end of his search, our Corolla-owning family friend, Mrs. Oliver, walked out of her car, ecstatic she had bumped into us while on her way to Peter’s parents’ party. As we breathed for the first time in an eon, Peter and I looked at each other, realizing that the car chasing us was not that man, as we thought, but Mrs. Oliver. This frail, middle-aged, white woman’s transformation into the man we had outraged was based solely on our prejudice. In this minuscule second, we recognized that we had made a completely innocent man who happened to be tall and dark-skinned, into a criminal with a road rage problem. “Come on you guys! Dinner’s getting cold.” my mom shouted out to us from the house. Peter, still shaking on this warm summer night, was the braver man and set off to help himself to some lukewarm soup and pizza.

Standing alone between a community that loved me and a not so beautiful sunset, I realized the extent that racism played a part in our world. I have never thought of myself as racist, but in a moment of doubt, I fled from a man whose only fault was not halting for a biker at a stop sign. I have gone to hippie schools for my entire life that take pride in their equal treatment of all races. Now it seems no proper upbringing can completely isolate a oneself from the racism around him or her. There is no magic way to cure a plague like prejudice in this world. Our brightest star began to sink into the endless abyss we call an ocean. An ocean replete of diverse sea-life, yet barren of crude stereotypes. Although not all people are the white-loving white supremecists who preach segregation, the predispositions of the media have had an effect on every soul alive today. I am aware of the racism in my life, and just have to fight stereotypes that much more because without the conscious effort to change, no change will come. While the breeze passed through my hair and the gold slowly faded into an ever present dusk, I walked to my welcoming family.





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