Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Getting the F over one's self.

Yesterday, my mom got lost. (For any relatives who still stick around, take a minute to go "Duh.")

She saw an international grocery store, and it said things like "Arabic" and "Indian" on the front window (along with Russian, Greek, so many countries!) and she knew I'd be excited.

I was. Especially since it's not far from my school.

My school is half in and half out of the bad/poor/black/poor black part of town. My white friend lives in a neighborhood filled with huge old growth trees and old postwar houses (some have these amazing pre-AC deep porches that make me want to become an architect. I'm weird) and lots of crime.

The grocery store is in that part.

Mom and I may have been the only white people in there, I was too busy looking for Bollywood DVDs only to be disappointed because my Arabic isn't that good and I forgot to check if they have English subtitles, something to look for next time!

The woman at the check-out was light skinned with an accent (from Ohio, I think she admitted that our winter was cold *Memphis snow day pride!*) and she didn't look at me like I was some weirdo for being white and buying something. I did, however, regret my 50 pounds of pennies when I learned they don't take cards. Mom ran out to get some cash.

I bought hummus and baklava. Someone brought hummus to my anthropology class last semester (3 hour night class, snacks about an hour in) and I loved it! I found the brand at Kroger, even in Tipton County. (Locals, locals, locals are you with me? Someone fetch the smelling salts!)

But then I read that the stuff here doesn't hold a candle to the real stuff. I remember the hummus from this cheap middle eastern restaurant, and bought the only container they had. It's decorated nicely with spices and ... green leaves? I am an American wuss and don't like it.

Oh well.

Anyway, to the title.

My sister went to the Wal-Mart in Raleigh by herself Friday evening, and felt so out of place because she was the only white person there!

When I went to the mall with her, she wouldn't let me go in a clothing store because it was for black people (bright colored t-shirts know no race!).

I always wanted to go back and go in there and find something pretty, but the malls are far away.

I don't think I'm the only white person at Bollywood movies, but when I arrived early for "New York" this summer, the only other people in the lighted theater were Indian. They wanted to make sure I was in the right place. (The movie was not advertised anywhere in the theater, you had to be in the know.)

I remember thinking about being the only white face at Dehli 6 a year ago, mostly because it was a 7 or 8 pm weeknight showing, and they wouldn't let us in the theater! So it's a bunch of Indian people and a girl in a Stanford hoodie (open so her SRK shirt shows) milling around. I felt more out of place because I was alone, and the themes in the beginning of the movie stressed family and friends.

My mom and I don't always see the same way on race, and my sister and I will never see eye to eye, but as we were driving through the old neighborhoods (not old money neighborhoods), she was talking about living there. (The porches! I love me a good porch!)

Maybe it was her time in Japan, maybe it was the military that opened her mind, because she is quite tolerant of my desire to wander through places like the international grocery store and that one in Knoxville, we looked for brands from Japan and I looked for the ones advertised on Bollywood DVDs. And with the Pepsi Throwback out (it has sugar, which improves the taste according to former Pepsi addict Mom), we are looking at foreign sodas. I got an orange one at a Mexican restaurant a couple weeks ago - no HFCS.

The one pity in all this? Neither of us are coffee drinkers (she likes the chocolate confections with a dash of coffee) so we can't test Arabic coffee! It's supposed to be stronger.

They not only had Nutella, they had other brands of hazelnut spread, oh drool.

Anyways, my point is be aware of your surrounding, but if you (and a companion) are the only whatevers in a group, get over it. Maybe you'll learn something.

Of course, my friend and I ate at some sub place a couple weeks ago, and she was like, "Kaitlyn, we're the only girls here." My response? "Stop taking us to gay bars, Elizabeth, and this won't happen!"

So yeah. Maybe it is white privilege that lets me wander around a Middle Eastern grocery in the poor part of Memphis (I haven't tried that baklava yet... this will be my third try. I keep hoping for the nirvana others talk about. Damn that stuff is rich!) um where was I going?

Happy Black History Month, ya'll!

I'm not going to the Civil Rights Museum because I cry and cry when I go, though I stop to gape at the conspiracies surrounding James Earl Ray (something ain't kosher, but still) and then continue crying. I don't know why.

I also cried during a video about the design of the Vietnam War memorial, but that was last semester which was an emotional roller coaster, so it may not count. But when I think of the memorial - of going there old enough to appreciate it - I start getting teary. And I lost no one in the fight.

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