Tonight as I rode home on the train at around 9:00 p.m, I was reading a story in which the author says she woke up each morning to the smell of the cooking fire. I thought, "I can smell that fire, too." I looked up and saw that three black kids, maybe middle school age, had a cigarette. The boy was inhaling and puffing while two girls looked on. I looked around the train car and saw two white women sitting behind the kids, looking very disapprovingly at them. Actually the whole train was glaring, but these two looked so upset at the sight of this kid spreading tobacco smoke on the train, I actually thought for a second they might say something. They didn't.
When I stood up, I felt just as disgusted with the white people as I felt with the smoking kid. Why are white people always so afraid to talk to black kids? I've been through this same situation a few times. I leaned over the kid with the cigarette.
"You do know you aren't supposed to smoke on the el, right?" I wasn't mean about it. Without looking at me, he pulled the cigarette out of his mouth and carefully put it out between his fingers.
"Thank you," I said. As I pulled away, one of the girls said smartly, "You doing all right?"
I looked her in the eye and said, "No," and moved back to my seat.
If the guy had been alone I think that would have been the end of it, but that girl was not going to let this go. She talked smack about me all the way to Rogers Park (they got off one stop ahead of me). "She look like my aunt. Scary! I'm gonna have nightmares tonight! Look JUST like her." I ignored her.