A few days ago Betsy and I were invited to a swank fund raising party at the Distillery District. One the perks of being clergy is that you get invited to a fair number of events like this. This was a fund raising event for a local music school. A very good Jazz ensemble played in the background and we all enjoyed the open bar and hors d'oeuvres. I met a few new people, including a well-known Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Tom Day.
At one point I ended up outside with the band chatting during their break. The pianist, who is black, ended up telling us about the kind of casual racism he encounters. Several times recently he has gone into high-end clothing stores and either been ignored or served poorly. The natural reaction of those of us listening to his stories was to be outraged and suggest that he should have contacted the management, etc. He shrugged and told us that it happens so often that he doesn't have the energy to fight--he simply leaves and goes someplace else.
I think it's impossible for those of use who grow up with privilege and get invited to cocktail parties and to fancy lunches at private clubs downtown to understand what it's like to be a visible minority. This extremely talented and fashionable-looking man is frequently treated like crap just because he's a black man. It's remarkable to look at that reality for a minute.