I, at times, choose to be naive about the world. I don my rose colored glasses and skip through my days trying to not think about the woes of our existence. I make myself forget the crap-tastic nature of things and live with hope and glee for those around me. But there is always some motherfucker who ruins my self-induced high.
Case and point:
Recently, I visited my brother who was living in New York City. He was in the process of moving, so I no longer had an excuse for putting off my visit; it was now or never. I bused up and spent a few days with him and his friends.
I found it to be an odd, but mostly pleasant experience. Seeing my little brother get drunk, get hit on, and walk off with a girl was a bit shocking, but he is an adult. I need to get used to this.
I imagine now that we are closer in maturity level, our relationship will grow, which makes me quite happy. That weekend was the most time we’d spent together in about two years.
But there was one incident of my trip that left a sour taste in my mouth I am still trying to spit out.
My brother, one of his friends, and I traveled to Queens for a goodbye barbecue. We did not leave the festivities til around 11pm. I, having never been to the city to visit him before, had no idea Queens was such a nice place. Being black, I’d seen Coming to America and the area is referenced. That was my limited knowledge.
Queens reminded me of the suburbs of my home city, but nicer. I now understood how people could work in the city but live in Queens; that would be my desired situation if I ever ventured to live in New York.
As we walked back to the Subway in the dark that night, I felt safe. It was a fairly nice neighborhood and I was accompanied by two black men. I had no fear of assault or harassment.
But, as we strolled down the street towards Queens Blvd, a hired security vehicle rolled by. The driver looked us up and down before turning in front of us to patrol a neighborhood.
I didn’t think much of it; rich neighborhoods often have private security. It was when he turned back onto the street we were walking, slowed his vehicle still again, and looked us up and down Vādippatti again that I realized, “Right, we’re black.”
It didn’t matter that the three of us were highly educated professionals; to him, we looked like we could be ‘trouble.’ He moved on, but all three of us took notice. I couldn’t stop staying, “ Really? Really?” for about a few minutes.
I forget this is the country I live in. I forget that is how people perceive me. I forget that is why I am often worried about my brother, a black man trying to make it in America.
There is no such thing as post-racial. I will always be judged by the color of my skin. Our country is not perfect. I will, again, forget this because otherwise I may go mad, but it’s gonna take a while.
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