Waiting While Black?

Foundation president Dori Maynard was hustled out of a Washington, D.C., hotel lobby while waiting for a friend. In a Q&A with The Root, she says she's still seeking an explanation.

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I keep replaying this in my head. The reason I'm blindsided, you know, we all walk into situations where we know we are being watched. That's just a fact of life. Not a good fact of life, but a fact of life. But there are times when you are on guard. But this is in a hotel lobby, and hotel lobbies are for meeting people. This is incomprehensible to me.

TR: What did you, and what should others, take from this moment? 

DM: I have become incredibly concerned about the mood of the country. I have a 30-year-old brother who I'm just always on about being safe. I think we have entered a period where the acrimony and the tension is so palpable that you don't know what's going to happen next. I was surprised to be proved so right.

TR: It's quite ironic that this happened the same day as the Rally to Restore Sanity.

DM: Exactly. The guy I was talking to at the hotel was getting ready to go on the rally, and that's why he was proudly wearing his "eracism" shirt. At the time I looked at his shirt, I thought that this was showing me that maybe things are not as critical as I thought they were, and that there are people standing up against racism.

TR: But how insane did it become for you just after chatting with this hotel guest?

DM: It was insane, and it's deeply troubling. The fact that nobody has gotten back to me is also deeply troubling. The only way I can interpret that [is that the hotel is saying], "We think it's OK," and it's not OK. I talked to you earlier about it's in keeping of what we do, but also as I said, I have been increasingly concerned about the conversation within this country.

We keep saying that Washington has to have a more civil tone. I think each of us needs to have a more civil tone as well. We are all responsible. I was willing to do my share to sit down and talk with this man to find out [why he escorted me outside] and to make sure that steps were taken that nobody else would be treated this way, and what I have gotten is absolute dead silence. Nothing -- and that is unacceptable.

TR: What does this say about where we are today in this so-called post-racial society?

DM: First of all, I think in two years we went from 'post-racial' to racially polarized. There's ample evidence that we are not post-racial. This is an opportunity for us to try to have frank and honest conversations about race, but I have not seen anybody who's trying to lead those conversations. And when you try to have the conversation, like Eric Holder, who stood up -- you saw what happened to him.