Friday, November 16, 2012

Chicken & Watermelon

My husband told me something extraordinarily funny: he won't eat watermelon in public. He thinks that  doing so would perpetuate a stereotype. He likes watermelon as well as any other fruit, but that particular one has too much negative meaning.

"Yeah, and then I'll bury my face in a wedge and spit out the seeds like a machine gun." He'd then demonstrate the seed spitting--side to side in an ignorant way. It was a messy eating of a person who doesn't know much. What would always make me laugh was how vehement he would look while doing it. "I's sho duz like me some waddermelons!" he'd say, pumping a fist to the side. Sometimes he'd add an irrelevant "Massah!" for effect.

There's sadness mixed in his portrayal. He can't be who he really is. If he reaches for watermelon, there's all of this judgment and contempt attached to it. It becomes a spectacle. Even if no one else around him would think that and he knew that, he'd know that image was in the collective mind. He wouldn't even eat any at a church friend's home because he said he can't in front of white people. His main problem was that it was still on the rind. It being cubed and in a bowl would have let him keep some dignity, I guess.

The simple act of showing like for a certain piece of food becomes a dilemma. I remember from my high school days an incident that occurred during our lunch. They had cooked too much fried chicken (they usually ran out of food) and since they didn't want to throw it out, they offered more portions to the students. Well, the principal came to the "black tables" first. I don't remember any of us accepting the offer, although some white kids did. We never mentioned what had happened among ourselves either. Why talk about the mundane?

Racism isn't the problem here. It helped to cement those stereotypes we can't quite run from, but that's not what I'm feeling now. It doesn't seem as if we can ever escape the past; we wear it on our backs like dowager humps.

There's all kinds of things that I don't dare do or say around those who aren't my closest friends (some of my closest friends are different ethnicities) because I don't want to be laughed at. I don't want to put an image in someone's head who doesn't know better that they will carry around with them and spread. It's beyond making a fool of me; I'm worried about making a fool of us. I think that's a little of what my husband faces when someone sets a plate of watermelon or fried chicken in front of him.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Just Stop

Please. Just stop.

I don't want to talk about "the election." Stop making this so miserable for me. I do not care who won or how he will ruin this country. I don't care.

You're telling me way too much about yourself. You're telling me what you really think of me, of my family. That isn't a good thing. It hurts my heart and frightens me.

We throw such hate at each other, scooped up from inside of us (don't worry; your supply won't be depleted). You fling it while telling me to get over it. It's just an opinion.

Your opinion stinks. I can't get it out of my clothes and my hair. I'm unallowed by tradition to state mine; this is what you get to dictate. I'd like to change those rules and you hate that. I don't need to know this. I'm trying to be your friend.

So please stop.