John Edgar Wideman,
professor of Africana studies and literary arts at Brown University, rides Amtrak’s high-speed Acela train from New York City to Providence, R.I. and writes in the NY Times
that he generally finds Acela passengers to be subtly racist because they will only sit next to him as a last resort:
"I’m a man of color, one of the few on the train and often the only one in the quiet car, and I’ve concluded that color explains a lot about my experience. Unless the car is nearly full, color will determine, even if it doesn’t exactly clarify, why 9 times out of 10 people will shun a free seat if it means sitting beside me. Color appears to be a sufficient reason for the behavior I have recorded."
"I kind of enjoy having that empty seat to put my bag and food containers on, there have been many times when someone has sat next to me when the train was nowhere near full and I have grumbled to myself, "Why next to me out of all these other empty seats?"
, lecturer at Columbia University and also a "man of color" frequently rides the same Acela train, and writes in The Root that he is mystified
because nothing of the sort ever happens to him, and he is in fact perfectly happy to have an empty seat:
This is the truth. It is based on several dozen Acela trips. It is based on my own experience in my own black skin. And there is nothing I do to invite company on the train; I almost always have my nose buried in a book or newspaper."
McWhorter also reports that he has "never been stopped for Driving While Black," and he's been waiting for eight years in NYC to be bypassed by a taxi, and he's still waiting - "It has never happened, anywhere in town — ever."