Friday, June 2, 2006

Stereotypes vs. Valid Fear

I know not everyone that reads this is from New Orleans. My office is located uptown next to Audubon Park. Let's just say that if New Orleans is Chocolate City like Mayor Nagin said, I work in the milky section that is added to the chocolate. There are not too many brothers cruising around up here and hanging out. I am a dark, bald, stocky man so I tend to walk with a menacing stroll from my car to the office door. I shave everyday but I tend to let my goatee hair stay kind of nappy. All the years of listening to Tupac and Ice Cube have me kind of conscious of looking like a crossover so I dress more urban than I probably should in an office setting like this one. Our office dress code is very loose so since many of my co workers dress like hippies I dress like I am going hangout. The agency I work for shares office space with several private doctors and almost all of their patients and staff are middle aged white people and mostly female. As a matter of fact, everyone here is middle aged and white accept for a handful of people. Now I don't have a problem with this because the ones that know me respect me. Here's my issue. Everyday I park in the same area. We have to share the parking area with the employees and patients. Every single day some white person checks their car alarm or waits to get out of their car until I drive off or go to the office door. Some of these ladies see me every day and they still do the same thing even after I speak to them. I have to say that as a young black man that considers himself to be their equal that really pisses me off. I especially hate the moments when a few people are standing in the lobby holding a conversation and they all stop to watch me when I walk through. Do not judge me on how I look and dress.

Here is the sad part......

There are times during the week when I do the exact same thing to some young brother that walks too close to my car.

As a matter of fact, I could make the case that I probably should have more fear of a black man doing something to me than these uptown white folks do and have many young black people my age agree with me. That's a sad but true commentary about our community at this time.

It's messed up that the line between the stereotypes and reality has been blurred that bad.

1 comment:

Another Conflict Theorist said...

Peace Cliff,

Yeah, Bro. It is pretty sad.

I'm beginning to think of it slightly differently, though. I've gotten into the habit - pathetic as it may seem - of differentiating between lower and middle to upper class black folks. Why? Because the behavior is different. Obviously, middle/upper middle class brothers like you aren't going around playing menace to society or stick up kid. Nowadays when I see a brother or sister I automatically look for signs of class. It's unfortunate but true.

The crazy part is that we have to be the only group of people on Earth who intentionally dress lower class than what we really are in order to "keep it real" (whatever the fuck that means). It's a Catch 22. Most of us realize the importance of solidarity so we identify with our poorer brethren. Yet, we don't want to be mistaken for them.

Like the new format, BTW.