On Monday, March 14, 2022, my husband was on a run on the Boise Greenbelt. He often runs on the Greenbelt near our apartment. I haven’t been using the Greenbelt for my runs since the pandemic started, but he still uses it. I also decided I don’t want my running route to require crossing Parkcenter on a weekday because I don’t like waiting for the walk signal.
Most of the time when he runs on the Greenbelt, he ignores everyone and everyone ignores him. Or some folks might do the ‘Boise nice’ thing and smile and say hello. He would then reciprocate.
But on that day, something different happened. Something that angers me, shocks me, though maybe it shouldn’t. Something disgusting.
A woman on a bicycle stopped and accosted him.
“N****** don’t belong on the Greenbelt. Get off the Greenbelt n*****.”
“I’m going to kill you, n*****, I’m going to slit your throat, I’m going to cut your dick off.”
He raised his chin to offer his throat. He called her a racist. He went on his way, not thinking too much of the incident, because, sadly, this is not a new thing for him. This kind of thing happened in his youth all too often.
Heck, a lower key version of this happened for years when he went to a Boise area gym. He never complained there, because it didn’t seem like anyone would do anything. He expected the staff not to care or to side with those choosing to make him feel unwelcome.
But this woman performed an act of violence towards him with her words, because her words were physically threatening. She threatened to kill him and mutilate him.
That is not okay.
And so even though he doesn’t know who she was, and she will likely never be called out for her actions, he has put in a complaint to the Boise Police Department. This action is recorded. Maybe nothing will happen, but there is a record. And, according to the police, this was a hate crime.
Several months ago, my husband went into a gas station and the white clerk asked him if he thought Idaho was a racist state. He replied yes, and she was shocked. Well, gas station clerk, the reason you don’t think Idaho is racist is because that woman would never have told you to get off the Greenbelt.
Racism is designed to be invisible to anyone other than its targets. Ignorable. Inconceivable.
When, in fact, it’s everywhere.
Not everyone, no.
But I don’t know if you can throw a stone in Idaho without hitting a racist.