I drove up to Banning State Park, a little place about an hour north of the Twin Cities, yesterday for a hike. I’ve gotten picky with hikes these past few weeks: I need natural areas, running water and few people, the last of which rules out basically anything in Twin City limits. But Banning was perfect and beautiful, secluded and rugged. The bluffs and rocky outcrops reminded me of home back in the Ozarks.
While my husband and I skipped town – he’s out of his salon job for a few more days, I’m on furlough – St. Paul and other parts of the metro we live in were host to protests, fury, violence and sadness. These events and their spark, another death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer, are rightly national news. I’ve gotten sweet, concerned messages from family and friends back South asking if we’re all right. I live in a mostly minority neighborhood in the middle of St. Paul, but with our daily routine of staying away from most other people, I literally wouldn’t know what was happening if I weren’t hearing about it from friends and journalists. The only change I have personally noticed is a few more sirens each evening. All I did was go on a hike and take some pretty pictures.
These are luxuries and privileges that many others don’t have and that illustrate one of the core truths in this whole mess. I’m a white man, and I can leave and forget the damage of racism for a few hours (or for far longer). A black person can’t escape his skin color, even if he’s birding out in nature, taking a stroll or doing nothing much at all. There is no escape in this country – not as things stand today, and not as they have stood for centuries.
So I’m doing fine. We’re not.