I’m a man of color, one of the few on the train and often the only one in the quiet car, and I’ve concluded that color explains a lot about my experience. Unless the car is nearly full, color will determine, even if it doesn’t exactly clarify, why 9 times out of 10 people will shun a free seat if it means sitting beside me.I doubt more than a handful intend to shun the dark skinned neighbor, yet they do so regardless. I'm sure these affluent travelers watch their thoughts and actions for prejudice the way we all do, giving our imperfect best to avoid repeating the sins of those that went before. I'm also confidant they think they're good at it. Which is to say, they're probably just like me–a deeply unsettling thought.
I guess we should just take this as a reminder of the gallant south, and remember that it is not Toby Keith's memory of an era where they would "round up all them bad boys [and] hang them high in the street" that we should remember, but instead Billie Holiday's: