Oh, man, this is gonna be expensive.
That thought raced through the mind of Lyndon Bell, an automotive writer, during a conversation with his colleagues about skiing in Aspen. But the expensive part wasn’t the skiing, or the cost of a trip to Colorado. It was the social cost of Bell, a black man, firing back at a white colleague who had joked that he didn’t think Aspen allowed black people in.
“Motherf---er, WHAT?!?” was Bell’s immediate, perhaps costly, reply.
Fortunately for him, Bell says the other people around the table apologized for that guy’s thoughtless words. But the sting of that racial encounter lingered, mostly because of the ripple effects confrontations like this can have.
“When I'm moving through the world, it's like I'm responsible for more than just me, and I'm making a point to be an example,” says Bell. “Then hopefully, that can open a door for another black person who's coming along behind me. I really couldn't help feeling I just cost somebody else an opportunity.”