Today I was riding the train home and I saw a young white man get into some kind of altercation with a young African American man. They were all the way at the other end of the train from me, so I couldn’t hear what was going on, and the young white man got off at the same stop that I did.
We took different routes, but about five minutes later we reached the main street on which I walk home at about the same time. Since we were basically running into one another, I did something I rarely do and asked what had happened on the train.
He told me that he was talking to the young African American man. The young African American man reached out to shake the young white man’s hand and the young white man did not return the shake but presented him with “knuckles” instead. The young African American man took offense to that and got “in his face” as the young white man explained.
I asked why he didn’t return the handshake, but instead offered “knuckles.” He said that it was because of “germs.”
We walked together for three of four minutes in weird semi-silence. I turned to leave and extended my hand, which he shook immediately, without hesitation.