It’s a little after 9pm. I’ve hopped off the subway and walked up the deserted stairs to above ground, behind a family of three—a black mother wearing scrubs and her two young sons carrying backpacks. We are all looking around, trying to orient ourselves as to where we’re headed next. A tall, muscular black man is standing near the entrance of the station, leaning against the railing smoking a cigarette.
I don’t think anything of it, and start walking to my left. The family of three follow, the mom still holding her children’s hands. We all stop at the crosswalk, awaiting the signal that we can finally cross.
The older boy–probably no more than ten-years-old–looks back at the tall man standing by the station, then looks up at his mom and asks, “Mom, is he going to kill us?”
She doesn’t say anything for a bit, and looks around to see if anyone heard. Everyone had headphones in, as did I, but little did she know that no music was playing from mine.
“I mean, is he? He looks like a murderer.” The older brother asked again.
The little brother–probably six–looked back at the man and clutched his mom’s hand a little harder, softly agreeing, “yeah, he looks like dad.”
At this, the mom held her head a little higher, shook her head, and sternly said, “no.”
The signal changed and they began crossing the street.
I stood in place, instead, frozen in anger at the injustices in this world.