Samantha Brown / by Michael Falco

Who is Samantha Brown?

Samantha Brown is a Richmond resident who works for an affordable housing  nonprofit. Born in 1972, and originally from a Jewish family in Westchester, New York, Samantha has a bachelors degree from Appalachian State University in North Carolina and a masters degree from the University of Maryland.  Samantha has lived in Richmond for 15 years and has worked in affordable housing for 12. She has a daughter whom she's raised in Richmond all her life. Samantha got involved in the Whiteness project because the issue of race and how it divides us has always been of interest to her.  She is always open to experiences that help her understand the social and cultural dynamics of race; and that allow her to talk about race with whites and people of color.

Excerpt from interview with Samantha Brown by Whitney Dow, 2017

Brown: [15:54:51] So I was living in Gaithersburg, Maryland in the Kentlands, which is a very affluent area in Maryland. This was just a couple years ago. Was up there for a year. And I was walking around. And it was probably early in the morning. There weren’t that many people on the street. It was near a little downtown area. And I was walking down the street and there was an African American man in front of me, and my first instinct was to cross the street. At that moment I had the realization. Hey, dummy, you’re in Kentlands. Everybody here is fricking wealthy. Don’t fricking cross the street. Like so my immediate and ugly response was, there’s a black man on the corner, cross the street and get away from him. And I had to remind myself where I was. And there was still some discomfort, but I didn’t cross the street. I don’t know what that had to do with your last question.

Q: Had everything to do with it. How did that make you feel that you had that? What did it make you think about yourself that you would have that response?

Brown: [15:56:11] So having that response, I don’t think that—it just made me think to myself, Hey, stupid, don’t judge someone by their color. Instead judge them by their economic class. [laughs] Is what I did. I think I was raised with the stereotypes. They live in my brain. And so, when they come up I’m able to at least recognize them. And try and act against them. I don’t get upset with myself. I just—I think I sort of see it as a victory. Like ah, I recognized what I was doing, and I was able to divert from that unconscious thought.

Interview Transcript