My mother taught me, as she was taught; there were two things a lady never discussed in polite company: Religion or Politics.

So many people I have talked to over the years are terrified of talking politics (and thus, religion… really, you’re going to argue?).

Especially women, and especially, well, men, but seemingly only to me…?

I wondered why, for years… but once I understood why… entirely…

I decided that, well, there were people willing to discuss religion or politics, and then there were:

Years later… after my fumbling attempts at discussion, or debate, and once I had a solid background, and understanding of the issues…

I had a professor who tried, unsuccessfully, to talk me into switching from history to political science (as a major).

My words, verbatim? “There are not enough antacids on this planet to get me through one, single year of a job as political analyst…”

Okay, maybe I am a little bit of a:

The question has come full circle though… and now, with such a level of understanding, I wholly appreciate and comprehend the aversion. It’s an upsetting world. ESPECIALLY NOW.

*there, there, dear… love your heart.*

I have a friend who flat out refuses to read anything political.

Thus, in the near future… based on said friend’s point-of-view on the issue, I will be posting a blog about it.

Because, well, I think it’s interesting.

Besides… That’s what ya’ get…

..be there, or be prepared to be talked about! hehe. *snicker*

I said, SEMI-Vegetarian, dear… *muhahaha*


For now… enjoy.

And be not afraid. This is a cultural blog… not political… and an important discussion. (or else… well, I will move on to something else more relevant.)


CONFESSION:

I grew up in mixed-race/ethnic neighborhoods.

Tha’s jus’ wha’ us pouw peepa doo…

You know… we hang out with other poor people.

Admittedly, much of that time was in the South.

So my interactions were, at times, socially limited to sideways glances and appreciative ‘hallelujah’ waves from across the road[1]… Regardless of the occasional ‘self-segregating’ tendencies, I have a vision, an understanding many (white) people, well, ‘sort-of’ white* people cannot truly comprehend.

I know what most ‘whites’ don’t, or won’t ever truly comprehend…

….that discrimination against non-whites is REAL.

It’s visceral.

And even the kindest, gentlest, white, Christian, God-fearing, humblest person… is an unwilling and, often, an unaware participant.


*DIVERGENCE: Let me explain ‘sort-of-white’…

I say ‘sort-of’ white, because, well, I have, EVERY SINGLE TIME, no sh*t, been STOPPED and questioned by airport security EVERY TIME I HAVE TRAVELLED BY PLANE.

A black friend of mine says it’s because I look middle-eastern, or at least ‘eastern-European’…

See… I have a no-nonsense, vague, could be Asian, Chinese, Hispanic, Latino, Indian (eastern, or American), or even Middle Eastern appearance… (Rare genotype… don’t ask… yes, I have the test to prove it.)

But, my husband swears it’s my military background. (?)

Exactly…

I think, well, I agree with my black friend… I’m being racially profiled.

How do I know?

Well, first off, wouldn’t she know the signs? I mean, how the hell would my ‘obviously white’ husband understand?

And second, it’s not just the airport.

I get followed, quite literally, EVERYWHERE… especially since I moved back to The Big City.

Okay… it’s not just racial, but then, is it ever really just race?

Maybe, I’m being Socio-economically Profiled?

I am approaching middle age (but look younger).[2]

Decently dressed.

No fancy up-do.

No manicured nails.

No overtly-plucked or drawn-in eyebrows. (I go for the ‘au naturale’, work-with-what-you-got approach… lol)

No fake-tan.

Therefore, I must be wanting to steal that Calvin Klein bra… on the *fracking* clearance rack.

WTF?


MOVING BACK TO THE POINT.

Some years ago, I travelled back to The South… to my Birthplace. To the place where I entered existence… and was welcomed… but reminded how easy it is to fall into that ‘us versus them’ mentality.

It was a gas station outside of Atlanta.

I pulled up to the tank closest to the door. Literally, the door and the cashier inside were five paces from the car. I filled the tank, left the girls in the car (locked) and walked in to pay the tab and pick up some snacks.

A young black man, around 19 years old, came up to the door the same time as me… He took the handle, held open the glass door, and smiled. I paused. It seemed like a million years in my brain, but I actually paused and felt my physiology ramping up a fight or flight reaction… what the hell?

It’s only in retrospect I can analyze the situation…. Because, well, my decent Southern upbringing took me the rest of the way in that particular situation.

A young man was showing deference, and offering preference for me to enter the store first. And he was smiling, respectfully… why did I hesitate? But, before I could comprehend or respond, my training kicked in… thank God.

I smiled graciously, thanked him, and sauntered into the store to pay for my gas and purchase a few bananas and a water for the road…

As I pulled onto the highway, my mind was racing… my breathing actually a bit ragged… I interrogated my inner-psyche:

What the hell is WRONG with you? He’s just a kid! What the hell are you afraid of?

Then, I realized… as I reviewed the entire situation in my mind…the store was a neighborhood gas station.

There were groups (i.e. ‘gangs’) of roughly clad ‘hoodlum’ types gathered around the parking lot. I was, literally, the ONLY white-ish person on the premises… the gas station attendant included. (Who was behind a heavy, thick, bullet-proof glass enclosure).

The boy holding the door for me, was dressed, well, like a hoodlum. Baggy pants, scraggly hair, but clean… and his face… well, his demeanor… it didn’t match. And, thankfully, that’s what my unconscious brain reacted to… just as it had overlooked the gang(s), clothing, even the bullet-proof glass. I grew up in neighborhoods very close to this type. I worked in a gas station for far too long in a rough part of town…

I guess what I am saying is… some part of my psyche was blind to the differences. Another part? Well, I had spent the last 4 years in predominantly white, conservative, (lower) middle-class, neighborhoods and/or towns.

Regardless, I’m thankful I reacted the way I did… because, well, to disrespect such a noble gesture? There’s definitely no viable form of penance for such an egregious offense. It’s just not in my blood…

Still, 12 years later, I am haunted by the knowledge that even I, the one stopped at every Airport, the one followed at every name-brand store, the one who spent most of the first 12 years of life in a town that was 75% black and, later on, in mixed neighborhoods… was flustered and, even for a millisecond, terrified by a young kid, dressed in his ethnic attire, holding a door for me.

Terrible human being?

I leave you to decide…



[1] “One day”, as my favorite history professor used to lament in his beautiful ‘Cameroon’ soft-trill accent, “perhaps someone will write a book about it…” This was always his follow-up and end to a lively debate. I accept the challenge Dr. X. 😉

[2] Looking younger has been a blessing and a curse. People, as a rule are ‘visually’ attuned to the world, but most lack true skills of observation or perception. So, if a perceived younger person, acts or purports to knowledge an older person should know… especially if the listener is male, and the younger person shows a stronger skillset… the younger-looking person is told they have no idea what they’re talking about. Now that I’m older? And, well, look somewhat older? (I don’t look 14). Well, same rule applies, sometimes in reverse.