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The Other Steve Harvey

The Other Steve Harvey

Great news here at THE.  "The Other Steve Harvey" has been selected for The Best American Essays 2018 due out this fall.  It originally appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review. It is about unconscious bias and is built around President Obama's speech about Trayvon Martin--one of the most moving moments in Obama's presidency, I think. Curious about the title? You can order it or download it as a pdf:  here.

Excerpt from The Other Steve Harvey 

     So what do I see when I look at the face of Trayvon Martin under his hoodie?  In reverse order, I see the smoothness of his skin.  I keep coming back to that.  He really is just so damned young under that gray hoodie, a kid and nothing more.

     And he really could be Barack Obama thirty five years ago.  I see that in the wounded innocence of his seventeen-year-old face, the hint of mischief in his smile, and a dreaminess about the eyes.

     I could see menace here, too, a twisting of these features in anger that could be a threat, but in repose it is a face that a mother, a girlfriend, or a father would love.

     I see his black hair forming a kind of crown around the face, framing it, containing it.

     The pupils of his eyes, highlighted with flecks of light, are otherwise black and penetrating.  They float dolefully from the upper eyelids in the eggshell white of his eyes. And the eyebrows rise up, almost elfin.

     His nose has a small hump in the middle and a hint of a moustache appears above his upper lip.

     His skin is buttery brown and there is something feminine about its smoothness, inviting the touch.

     But the first thing I see when I look at the face of Trayvon Martin as I imagine him bending down to speak to me through the window of my car on a cool winter night in Sanford, Florida, is not the buttery brown skin, the suggestion of a moustache, or the doleful eyes under the hoodie.

    The first thing I see is that he is black.

    And what I see first is what I think first.

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