Who has the freedom to talk on the phone?

One week ago a man was talking on the phone in a Portland hotel lobby when police were called to escort him from the premises.

NY Times reported on the story. As did many other news sources including Fox News.

Jermaine Massey, an African American man from Washington state, was a guest at the hotel. As the hotel guard says, “Not anymore.” Sure enough, police arrived and escorted Jermaine from the premises.

Since the incident, the Portland Doubletree’s general manager has apologized and the hotel employees involved have been put on a leave of absence.

Want to know the irony? I found out about this story as I sat in a hotel lobby with my husband who was talking on his phone.

During his call I noticed the TV in the background reporting the story on CNN.

Unlike Jermaine, my husband was not a guest of the hotel.

Unlike Jermaine, my husband was able to talk on the phone for 45 minutes without any disturbance from hotel employees and without the police showing up.

Unlike Jermaine, my husband is white.

In 2017 after a hate crime was committed against LeBron James, he said it’s tough to be black in America. From the many African American sources I’ve read, heard, or talked to, the overwhelming majority of them would agree with LeBron.

Do people play the race card? Sure. But that doesn’t mean we should get angry and dismiss all the other situations and say race isn’t an issue.

I’m thankful my white husband was able to make a phone call in a hotel lobby uninterrupted. But I want the black man to be able to do the same. I don’t want it to be tough to be black in America. I ask you to be aware that these type of situations are happening. I ask you to be sensitive how you interact with African Americans. And I ask you to not grow weary when you hear another story where a person claims they were treated a certain negative way simply for being black. Maybe they are playing the race card. Maybe they are misreading the situation. But maybe they aren’t. We have a painful history, and, unfortunately, it’s still tough being black in America.

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