WALKING WHILE BLACK: GARNETTE CADOGAN ON THE REALITIES OF BEING BLACK IN AMERICA
Listening to the experiences of our people of color is vital to our understanding, compassion, wisdom,identification and unity: Read this account. This articles is written by a Jamaican who loved to walk and then came to the U.S. His name is Garnette Cadogan.
“My only sin is my skin. What did I do, to be so black and blue?”
–Fats Waller, “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue?”
On my first day in the city [New Orleans], I went walking for a few hours to get a feel for the place and to buy supplies to transform my dormitory room from a prison bunker into a welcoming space. When some university staff members found out what I’d been up to, they warned me to restrict my walking to the places recommended as safe to tourists and the parents of freshmen. They trotted out statistics about New Orleans’s crime rate. But Kingston’s crime rate dwarfed those numbers, and I decided to ignore these well-meant cautions. A city was waiting to be discovered, and I wouldn’t let inconvenient facts get in the way. These American criminals are nothing on Kingston’s, I thought. They’re no real threat to me.
What no one had told me was that I was the one who would be considered a threat.
Within days I noticed that many people on the street seemed apprehensive of me: Some gave me a circumspect glance as they approached,