My Dad Warned Me About the Myth of Racial Progress. He Was Right.

My father, who grew up in the segregated South, reminded me how far we have to go

Drew Costley
GEN
Published in
5 min readJun 2, 2020

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Protestors in New York City on June 1, 2020. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

A few days ago, I got a call from my father, Louis, and immediately felt a pang of anxiety. He was the one who called me several months prior, bawling, to let me know that my brother had died suddenly. I still haven’t been able to shake that sense of dread when his name flashes on my phone screen. “Who’s dead now?” I wonder.

But he called this time with a question — and a warning.

“Are you still running?” he asked me. I had been going to the gym consistently since the beginning of the year, then began running around Berkeley for a bit after the gyms closed to Covid-19. But no, I told him, I hate running, so I’ve been going for longer walks around the neighborhood.

“Well, still — I know I’ve told you this before, but be careful when you’re out there,” he said. “They are out here killing us all out in the open. They don’t give a shit. They’re calling the police on us for nothing.”

I’m in my early thirties, and I would normally bristle at this type of protectiveness from either of my parents, but I understood why he said what he said.

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Drew Costley
GEN
Writer for

Drew Costley is a Staff Writer at FutureHuman covering the environment, health, science and tech. Previously @ SFGate, East Bay Express, USA Today, etc.