I remember sitting in a press box for a legion baseball game years ago. I was comfortable talking to writers as the only Hispanic guy in there, watching a game played nearly 100% by white baseball players. A hit got past the shortstop. I had already started to write it as an out in my scorebook.
A writer next to me said "jumping the gun, aren't you?" and laughed. I said, "If that had been a kid named Gomez fielding it, he'd have gotten the guy out!"
Everything got a little quiet for a moment. But was fine a batter later. I have always wondered how that landed for them - a brown guy commenting that someone of his race could have made a play that a white kid didn't. I sure didn't mean it to be racist.
Until that point - and very soon after it - I was just another writer in a press box covering a game. So often, our thoughts, expressions, and opinions aren't based in racism. They're from observation and perception. Had one guy asked me what I meant by that, I'm sure the conversation could have gotten interesting. But I hope it would be just that - a conversation - not an accusation. That's how we learn, right?
If I had been out of line saying that - and I'm not so sure I wasn't - I would have been open to discussion. I hope we can all do that, and not just live in fear of saying the wrong thing.