I learn a lot from reading the Daily News. It’s one of the reasons I support local papers in general – you can learn a lot about the local zeitgeist of the community you’re in.
It was not really a great surprise when I learned just this week that asking someone where they were from was one of the most hostile and racist questions you could ask someone. The enlightenment hit me like a ton of bricks. No wonder I’ve made friends all over the world. Because the people that I’ve encountered were racists, just like me.
One of my favorite racist incidents happened on the top of the Baja Cordillera at a narcotics interdiction spot. We were waved over by a group of Mexican Army soldiers, doing hard duty in a hot, dry and inhospitable part of the world. “De dondes eres? (Where are you from?)” the sergeant in charge asked me. We were hauling about eight sea kayaks, and the usual kit for spending a couple of weeks kayaking down the coast of the Sea of Cortez. I said “Estados Unidos” as he set his team to inspect our gear for drugs. For those that know sea kayaking, let’s put it this way — those boats have lots of little watertight compartments.