Tuesday was the first time in 43 years I feared for my safety because of my race

One reader felt it important to reach out to me to let me know I upset some folks with my assessment of our governor’s behavior pertaining to race, vigilantism and the addiction epidemic. That reader referred to the “sewage in the comments section.”

Apparently there are folks out there who think I am being too hard on Gov. Paul LePage. I wish I could say sorry, but I can’t. His rhetoric is disturbing and dangerous.

First, as I have said before, having a black person in your family, as LePage does, does not buy one a cloak of invincibility when it comes to the issue of race. I personally was adopted into a white family with family members who said racist things and acted in racist ways even though as a family member I seemed to be offered some bizarre kind of an exemption from this problem group.

Second, as I have said before, neither my children nor I are the first to throw down the race card. On the contrary I am a dark-skinned person who stands firmly behind my conservative friends when it comes to being against things like affirmative action and reparations. I have actually turned down an affirmative action opportunity on the grounds that it was an affirmative action opportunity.

Third, shortly after posting the post in question, I was driving down a four-lane road, and a vehicle pulled up next to me going in the same direction. I didn’t recognize the vehicle as someone I knew, so I slowed down. The other vehicle slowed down to stay even. I sped up a bit, but the vehicle stayed even.

For a split second, I panicked. Now I know it is far more likely that the other driver was just being obnoxious for some unknown reason, but I’m a dark-skinned woman who dies her hair to hide the grays, drives a foreign car with tinted windows (it was an Arizona car I could afford, not intentional), and am occasionally mistaken at first glance for someone younger than myself.

Until I reached an intersection, turned left and watched the other vehicle proceed through the intersection,  I panicked and wondered if the other driver thought I was one of those black dealers. If I was one of those people LePage casually recommended shooting. It was a moment of panic most white people probably can’t understand, and it was the first time in 43 years of living in this state I love that I had moment of fear associated with my race.

That fear would have never entered my head were it not for LePage’s dangerous rhetoric.

Which brings me to my fourth and last thought on the matter: One big difference between stereotyping and racism is that stereotyping does not instill fear in the minds of intelligent people such as myself and my children. And to anyone who can’t understand that difference, I have one more thought:

That’s mighty white of you.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.