I was paying a ticket during yesterday’s particularly windy day and a black woman was at the court paying her ticket too. I overheard her talking to the clerk behind the glass and saying, “yeah let’s just pay the whole thing. I don’t wanna have to come back here again. I like to avoid this place as much as I can”
*points at her face*… and in a playful, bantery tone, she says:
“My name is Jessica, which sounds like a white girl’s name, nobody expects to see skin this dark when they see Jessica on a job application! And we tend to steer clear of the police, if you know what I mean!”
So I laugh a bit and say, “yea, my name is Elijah. People don’t typically expect to see a pasty white dude when they see that name”
She laughs heartily and says, “ELIJAH? Yeah I would expect some darker Muslim man or something hahahahaha”
(I should have told her that one of my son Micah’s middle names is Ravi. She would have loved that!)
As our cards were being processed, she looks over at me and says, “were you surviving outside today in that wind?”
– yeah, I was outside at work. I survived I think.
– “Really? You were outside today? And your hair still looks like that?”
– hahaha yea, although I did straighten it out after walking inside.
– “are you serious? what do you put in there? It doesn’t look crispy or anything”
– just some Axe stuff I found at target
– “can I touch it?”
– haha ok, sure
– *lightly touching the top* “oh that’s nice. Mind if I run my fingers through it?”
– nope, not at all. Be my guest!
– *running fingers through my hair* “ooooohhhh…. ya’ll white people’s hair is nice. I can’t ever get this springy mess to do anything like that. Look at this!” *points at her hair*
– well I would never be able to do anything like that either. I like it. Looks fun!
– “yea well all I want today is something that won’t look crazy when I go outside in this hurricane”
I say all of this for a couple reasons. The first is to point out a funny story with a funny woman. The second is to show that it is possible to have conversations where race is the central focus and people not to get offended.
Let’s realize that races and cultures are different, but avoid making it a point of contention. There’s no reason for it.
People are different.
Embrace it. And if you really can’t embrace it, deal with it.