Sometimes when I drive to school in the morning, I buy the newspaper from one of those guys standing in the middle of the street. Most of the time the vendor is African-American. In fact, I can’t think of one who wasn’t African-American. So this morning, I noticed that the vendor on the corner of Ashland Avenue and Garfield Boulevard was not African-American. After some thought, I realized that he had been there for a few weeks now, but I just now realized it. And, I still haven’t bought a newspaper from him.
Was I discriminating against him because of the color of his skin? Did I discriminate against him consciously? Years ago, I had a newspaper vendor, African-American, of course, from whom I regularly bought the newspaper. If the light turned red, he would chat with me until the light turned green. I’m sure that amounted to less newspaper sales, but he seemed to enjoy talking to me. At Christmas, I would give him a Christmas card with a crisp twenty-dollar bill inside. I did for two years, but then he mysteriously disappeared from the corner of Damen Avenue and Garfield Boulevard. I never saw him again.