Good morning, everybody.
I was in a boarding house full of rented rooms. The building was built on the same kind of plan as a brownstone, but it was a lot bigger. The walls, floor, and stairs were all made out of old, but well-kept and polished wood.
The place was packed full of rented rooms. The rooms were all so crammed together that many of them didn't even feel divided from each other. The rooms themselves also appeared to be a mess, with crooked walls, bunk beds in disarray, and clutter everywhere.
I lived in one of these rooms. But at the moment I was on the ground floor, speaking with a couple of people who acted as superintendents or supervisors for the operations here. They were both young men, tall, white, kind of muscular, with shaggy hair, and wearing t-shirts and jeans.
The young men told me that I had to leave the building. I got the sense that the men themselves didn't like me, and that they had gotten permission from their manager to kick me out of the building. But the excuse the young men were giving me was that since I had "brown skin," the rest of the guys in the building, who were white, didn't like me and were planning to cause trouble for me. The two young men suggested that my neighbors might even break into my room and take my stuff, just because they didn't like me. I was told that I had to leave the building by the end of the day, if not sooner.
I didn't think it was right that I had to leave my building just because I wasn't white. But I didn't see how I could argue against the young men. It seemed like, even though they didn't like me, they were thinking about my safety. So I prepared to leave. Somehow my room was now the same room that I had been in with the two young men. It now just looked like a bedroom, my bedroom, with all my belongings in it.
As I was preparing to leave, I started hearing a conversation with a lawyer in my head. The lawyer was telling me that I was protected, and that if I wanted to sue this building for kicking me out based on my race, I definitely could. I thought that I probably would sue the building. I took a little bit of pleasure in this thought. The two young men had thought they were really pulling one over on me by kicking me out and making an excuse for doing so. But now I had the ability to get back at them.
I had been doing something like folding clothes or blankets at my bed. Now I was standing at a table that was full of clutter, trying to sort through it all. A lot of the clutter may have been cigarette packs.
One of the young men came into the room. He said he was leaving for the evening. It was 5 PM (even though it looked black as night outside -- though I don't know how I knew this). I told the young man that I was still working on packing. He was already walking out of the room and down the hallway.
I called after the young man, telling him that I'd do my best to be out of here in two hours. The young man replied, in a kind of pitying tone, like he was sorry for what I'd been put through, that I could take as long as I wanted to get out of the place. I could tell that the young man meant I could even stay here overnight.
I wondered why the young man was feeling so sorry all of the sudden. I figured that he had already been contacted by my lawyer. In that case, the young man now knew that he and the other management people in the building were in trouble. The young man would then be trying to make up for his part in the acts against me by giving me extra time, maybe even indefinite time, in the building. But I also had the idea that maybe he'd realized what he'd done and that he now truly felt sorry for it.
I was outside my apartment building, heading to get my mail. The mail was in big boxes that were stacked high and wide on metal poles that stood about waist-high. I went to my box. The box, it seemed had been left unlocked. It was open just a tiny bit. I was worried that someone had gotten into my mail.
I opened my box and pulled out my mail, expecting to see a copy of a weekly newspaper I receive, the Denver Business Journal. The newspaper wasn't there. But there was a big, hefty envelope of documentation. I pulled the envelope out of my mailbox.
I walked around the large unit of mailboxes clockwise, looking at the package. I thought it must have been special, and that I must have been special for receiving it: it was hefty, full of documentation, and labeled with a very official looking U.S. Postal Service label.
But somehow, seeing into other people's mailboxes, I saw the same kind of envelope. I understood that everybody, actually, had received an envelope like this. Far from being special, this envelope really wasn't anything other than glorified junk mail.