To the guy who robbed me at 114th & Morningside Ave, 11/28/05
I want you to know also that I’m sorry I lied to you. Not about the PIN number--I told you the real one. I lied when you first approached me and asked if I had change for a dollar. On several occasions, I’ve given change to strangers so that they could feed meters and stuff like that. I am even one of those people who give change, new socks, and sometimes food to beggars (not always, but more often than most New Yorkers). I lied and told you that I didn’t have change because—for whatever reason—I had a bad feeling about you. After what happened, I feel guilty for lying and for refusing your initial request so forcefully. Maybe I came off as rude, and that provoked your anger. I wonder if you would have pulled out your gun and taken my stuff anyway.
A concerned citizen saw me crying and trembling a few seconds after you rode away. I told him what happened and he called the police. I quickly canceled my cell phone service as well as my ATM card, so I doubt that you were able to get any use out of them. At first I was pretty upset and angry.
The things you robbed me of were not rightfully yours. Maybe they were not rightfully mine, either. Maybe everything anyone has is a gift. But I try very hard every day to be thankful for what I have and to make good use of the gifts God has given me. (Not that that was always the case.) When bad stuff happens to me now, I do my best to swallow it and spit out good in return. Sometimes that can be pretty difficult—for example, when people do things to other people like what you did to me last night. I know your life has not been fair. People must not have treated you as they should have. But unless you start accepting the hate people give you and repaying it with love, nothing is going to change. In fact, your life and my life and many others’ lives will suffer because of it.
I’ll give you a concrete example to show you what I mean. Several different law enforcement officers took reports from me. They all wanted a description of you. I told them the truth—that you were a black male. I didn’t feel I had much choice. And by the slightest little amount, I felt the world’s racism grow. Today when I was walking down the street, I couldn’t help but stare with suspicion at every young black man with a big jacket and baggy pants. I know you have felt the injustice of racism. I am sorry to say that your actions are also keeping that injustice alive.
Right now I should be filling out applications to graduate school. Since last night it has been difficult to concentrate on anything. So, to help me deal with recent events in a productive way—or maybe in a way that isn’t destructive—I decided to write this. It has helped me. I hope that it helps you. I don’t want you to get caught. There is no way that I would be able to identify you in a line-up. Please make better use of the life God has given you.
My hopes and prayers are with you.