So I was digging through an old photo album with my daughter earlier today when we came upon this shot.
It was taken in the summer of 1990, following my senior year of high school. Shortly after graduation ceremony, I—along with two friends—decided to hit up Jones Beach for a few hours of relaxation and such in the sun. I will never, ever forget the day. As we pulled up to the main entrance, we noticed there were hundreds upon hundreds of cars. Upon entering, we heard loud music and saw people. Lots of people. Lots and lots and lots of people. All of them (literally, all of them) black.
“What’s going on?” I asked a man working the entrance booth to the lot.
“Oh, it’s a beach jam sponsored by a black radio station,” he said.
I was behind the wheel. To my right sat Jonathan Powell, my closest friend. Jon is African-American—one of, oh, 10 in the entire town of Mahopac, N.Y. at the time. He had spent his entire boyhood living there, hearing insults and slurs and feeling (it could be pretty damn raw) the unease many had about his color. To be blunt, my town was racist. Often disgustingly so. Yet Powell never complained or griped or showed much emotion about it. Just went about his business, getting good grades and playing sports.
I digress. The gate opened. We pulled up. An enormous, unforgettable smile crossed Powell’s face. He looked at me, then at Craig in the back seat.
“Now,” he said, “you guys are finally gonna know how it feels!”