Friday, October 29, 2010

Walk of Shame

Question: Are Latinos white?

Answer: Depends on whose labeling.

Q: Are halfbreed Mohawks white?

A: See Above.

Becky and I left the Halloween Sock Hop with Dylan at eight pm on a Wednesday.  George Washington Carver Elementary is in Coconut Grove, an area of Miami which is part tourist trap, part haven for black folks.  We left in the middle of a little league football game.  I assumed the folks surrounding the field were parents invested in the players.  Really, the whole neighborhood had come to bask in the bright lights.  

Groups of people clustered around the playground equipment, the bleachers, the sidewalks.  Plenty of entrepreneurs in the crowd, shooting dice, talking about the merits of products imported from the west coast vs. products imported from South America.  

They let us know we're white, as in, "The white folks leavin' their dance."  

Inside, I bristled.  But apart from going around and explaining that, actually, Dylan is mixed race, and so am I, and Becky is Cuban, I couldn't do much except walk on.  Since I'd just come from watching a bunch of costumed elementary kids run around and dance to Pit Bull and Flo Rida, I was grinning.  I got a lot of looks which I interpreted to mean, "Wipe that stupid grin off your face."

The streets were lined with enough cars to render everything one way.  People living within the arc of the floodlights had set up folding chairs in their lawns, where they could drink and talk.  It looked like a homecoming game, but it was just a Wednesday night and some eight-year-olds playing football.

A guy biked past with a toddler in one arm.  My jaw fell open, but no one in the crowd even blinked.  I might not be white, but I'm certainly a surburbanite.   

I wish I didn't feel nervous, but being the only faces shaded lighter than "Pennies from Heaven" on Benjamin Moore's color wheel was unnerving.  Why I read more than curiosity in the crowd's eyes, I don't know.  Okay, fine - racism.  I was scared because they're black and I'm not.  I hope one day that everything I dislike about myself will be gone, but until then I've got to own these kernels of racism in my heart. 

Dylan plowed through the crowd, munching on a Butterfinger.  He doesn't see race.  To him, we're all just old people, made invisible by passing time.  

Passing years will make a lot of things invisible.  Like the color line.  Mixed race will become the only race, and degrees, drops, and percentages won't matter.

In the meantime, please excuse the white folks.        

No comments:

Post a Comment