I took the Amtrak from Richmond, Virginia to Washington, D.C. on Friday. It was a long, hot day and my three traveling companions and I were tired and stood in line to board the train with about 30 other people.
When I got to near the front of the line, an Amtrak employee was directing people to either turn left as they went up the steps into the first car of the train, or right into the back three cars.
The woman in front of me started to head left and the woman yelled sharply "Right! I said 'Right.'"
She looked at me. "You're traveling with who?"
"These three people," I said.
"Group goes to the left."
We climbed up to an almost empty car and got seats.
About half an hour into the trip, I went back to the dining car at the end of the train to get some snacks.
The first car I entered was packed. And the second. And the third. I didn't think about it much because I was trying so hard not to stumble into anyone with the motion of the train, but on the way back, it hit me.
My whole car was nothing but white people. And the three cars in the back were at least 90% black people.
Seriously? Seriously. In 2009. White people comfortably in the front. Black people crowded in the back.
I didn't say anything to anyone at the time. Like I said, I was tired and wanted to move on to the next thing - a shower, since in the course of the day I had had a bucket of grits dumped on me (long story) but now I'm thinking that Phone Calls Must Be Made. Because this cannot be.