Georgia NeSmith
4 min readOct 10, 2021


Oh, good grief, "Robert."

She had no such risk except in her and your imagination.

I know a lot about that imagination. I lived in three predominently black neighborhoods for 20 years in Rochester, NY, and I had a whole lot of white friends who were afraid to visit me at home. Yes, sometimes I had a neighbor or two angry at me due to some misunderstanding that eventually got worked out.

But in all those 20 years I never suffered a single physical attack.

Wanna know why? Because I didn't assume that all my black male neighbors were potential rapists or otherwise just waiting for an opportunity to harm me, even if sometimes they were pissed at me.

Funny how one time I was having a bit of car trouble. My car was parked on the street (a main city thoroughfare) because there was no off street parking for my building. Several neighborhood black men were standing around me and my car wanting to help me. I also had a neighbor friend who'd gone home to get some tools.

A cop drove by & parked behind me & ask if I was in trouble. I was very confused by his question, and then...lightbulb flash. I said no, I live here, and nodded to my building about 25 yards away..

At the same time my friend who'd gone for tools came walking up. Hey, Jonny! I said.

The poor cop blushed bright red, and left feeling rather sheepish.

See, your presumption is that a black man who is LEGITIMATELY angry with you will physically harm you...despite there's not one single thing he has done to indicate intent to harm.

He himself actually had a LEGITIMATE reason to assume his very privileged white antagonist would eventually harm HIM -- by lying to cops about him. Which she did in fact do.

He had a far more legitimate fear of her than she had of him. He had not done a single thing to threaten her until she started in (like, right away) with her LIES.

All you white folks who think every black male face represents someone who will very likely harm you in an instant no matter what YOU have done.


She could have easily just put her effing dog on an effing leash, per the regulation. Problem solved.

But no, she had to instantly reach for the weapon of her privilege first to threaten and then to call cops about him when he had done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG. She had to LIE to the 911 operator to get their attention.

If she had explained truthfully to the 911 operator exactly what had transpired, she would have been told to leash her dog and stop wasting police time.

His life experience was quite sufficient for him to have a realistic fear of her and her dog.

So many whiney, fearful white peoplethink they have the right to order black people and people of color around...and have their orders backed up by cops.

YOU are one of the people who support that racist culture. Note that I did not say "you are a racist."

My words mean: you based your reaction on commonly held racist assumptions that you've gotten mostly from the media and your equally mentally & emotionally challenged friends.

All of you with the same kind of thinking need to actually get to know real life black people. That is PLURAL people. Not just your neighbor next door — the black family you invite And STFU until you've had enough time and experience to see what ordinary black people (the vast majority have NO criminal record) look and act like FOR REAL.

I mean, really. If it had been a white man asking her to leash her dog and being firmly assertive on the issue, you wouldn’t immediately jump to the conclusion he intended to hurt her. Frankly I suspect that she would have complied with that request. A white guy, same size same build — would signify an authoritative figure and she would have backed off. At the very least SHE WOULDN’T HAVE CALLED FOR ANY COPS to back up her privilege.

The only assumption you should start with is that you don't actually know a single truthful thing about black people. Start with a clean slate and take time to form some friendships without any foregone conclusions. REAL friendships. Not people in your neighborhood at whom you wave when passing and maybe occasionally would have a beer with.

I gotta warn you, tho. It will take a good while and a whole lot of work to get past the suspicion you will be held in — justifiably — because, for the most part black people have tons of DIRECT negative experiences throughout their lives, whereas I’m guessing you hardly have any REAL experience (that is, not on the media but right in front of you) with being harmed by a black person.

Just like me before I moved to Rochester and started working directly on my “whiteness” issues and privileges. And tho I made a lot of progress in Rochester, it wasn’t until about six years ago — when I started working as writing coach and editor for ultimately eight black female and one male graduate student jumping their final graduate student hurdle (the dissertation and defense) that I finally GOT IT in a serious way.



Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.