But the quadrants are not necessarily cages—some of us experience multiple quadrants over time. McBride explains that as a Black man in the United States, he has experienced being persecuted and even prevented from accessing certain opportunities and spaces. As a business owner, he has power that comes with rank and authority. And as a male in male-dominant spaces, he’s enjoyed privilege that others lack.
McBride’s expertise in these issues stems in part from his long tenure addressing one of our country’s thorniest problems—inner-city gun violence and related conflicts between police and community members. He told the story of moving with his family into East Oakland in 2008. Their home was in the middle of “the kill zone,” a neighborhood where 70 percent of the city’s homicides occurred.
McBride, his wife, Gynelle, and their three young daughters would often come home to find a stranger sitting on his steps—the same stranger every time, a mysterious guy who just kept hanging out on their front steps. McBride would ask him to leave, but soon the man would be back, just sitting there.
One day, McBride came home, saw the man again, and felt he had to confront him more brusquely. “Are we going to do this again?” he asked. “Can you get off my stairs? Why are you here every day?”
The man looked up and caught McBride’s eyes. “Man, no disrespect,” he said. “But I grew up in this house. I used to live here.” He explained that he’d lost his mom, and sitting on those steps was his way of being close to her—of being where he felt he belonged.
McBride turned this story into an invitation: Let’s widen our circle of human concern to include those people we tend to dismiss or ignore or even those we confront.