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5th Street Conversation

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, April 13, 2007, at 03:02PM

Here's some good Friday conversation fodder. Yesterday I was walking down 5th street next to the Alexandria around 7:30pm. A guy standing there leaning against a parking meter stops me and we start talking. He's black, maybe 50'ish. After a few minutes the topic changes and he asks me this (and I paraphrase).

This is going to sound racist, but then it isn't.

Why aren't you scared of me, standing here and talking? Why is it that the white people moving Downtown aren't scared of black people?

Undoubtedly that's the most random question I've ever been asked on the streets of Downtown. I gave him an answer about just not believing in that sort of thing, etc, but I can't say that's a question I had an answer ready for.

He went on to say that he was really glad all the white people were moving here, since the police couldn't have white people getting mugged and so were stepping up security. He thought that made the neighborhood safer for everyone.

He left me with a call to action:

When you're out there talking to white people who are looking at Downtown, tell them to come on. Tell them we want them here.

Consider yourself told, if applicable.

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