(SB Nation) Waiting for competition to resume at a regional track meet in Churubusco, Ind., last spring, the 15-year-old didn’t look much different from other teenagers on coach James Reed’s North Miami High School (Ind.) team. The boy was perhaps a year or two younger than the rest. His stocky, athletic build and longish blond hair distinguished him a tad from everybody else, and maybe – just maybe — how he viewed the world was misaligned with theirs, too.
Huddled with teammates between events, the 15-year-old noticed black girls and boys, jeans sagging off their asses, milling around. As if out of nowhere, he blurted out, "I don't really not like black people. But I just don't like black people when they're sagging, when they've got their hat on backwards."
Stunned, Reed grabbed the boy and hustled him a few feet from the pack. "Why'd you say that?" Reed demanded. "Why?"
The 15-year-old stood mute. But what words do speak to ignorance, which is what racist rhetoric is? Reed knew, however, that the boy wasn't the only person in his high school of 500 students — or in his town or any similar place in rural America where the sight of black faces was rare — who embraced such myopic beliefs. In rural schools like North Miami, many teenagers look at sagging jeans as a clownish fad – same, too, with rap music. They find the profanity-laced lyrics of Trinidad James, 2 Chainz and Rick Ross impossible to dissect to their essence because the black rappers focus too much on baby-momma drama, on living the gangsta lifestyle, on making coin: