On the 57 bus, two strangers meet. Sasha goes by ‘they’, is a gifted student at a private school and white, while Richard lives in a crime ridden neighborhood and is black. A practical joke goes too far, and Richard is tried for a hate crim while Sasha has third degree burns. What follow is an examination of gender, race, the criminal justice system, and how these things intersect.
One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.
If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.
Cis boys: Richard
Not explicitly addressed.
Hate crime. Richard lights Sasha’s skirt on fire because of their gender identity.
Additional Notes: This is narrative nonfiction based on a New York Times Magazine article by the author.