I studied intercultural relations for my master’s degree. Throughout my studies, we talked about issues of race, identity, and culture. Every day, I find myself thinking about things I learned in classes as I walk through my neighborhood. I mentioned it before: I’ve never been a minority in my own neighborhood. And while I do see other White people, Asians, Latinos, etc., Harlem is predominantly Black.
I may be perpetuating stereotypes here, but I have heard it said that often White people have a hard time distinguishing people of different races. Well, I am now convinced that it’s not just a White person problem.
After work one day, I was riding the subway home. That day was one of those rare occurrences where I wore my glasses to work. A Black man was sitting across from me on the subway watching The Fantastic Four, a ridiculous-looking superhero movie staring Jessica Alba, on a portable DVD player. As I was riding, my eyes were drawn to the DVD player. The man saw me looking at it and said to me, “You look like her,” gesturing to Jessica Alba’s character. I smiled, totally amused at the comparison, and said, “Thank you.” I continued to watch and he continued to look between the DVD player and me. “Really! You look like her!” At this point, he turned toward another girl (White) standing there and said to her, “She (gesturing to me) looks like her (gesturing to Jessica Alba).” The girl, obviously seeing that I look nothing like Jessica Alba, smiled and said, “A little bit,” while giving me that knowing, “Aren’t people on the subway amusing?” look. We continued to ride, I continued to watch, he continued to watch me. Then he paused the movie at a point where Jessica Alba’s face was smack in the middle of the screen…and she was wearing glasses very similar to mine. He turned the DVD player directly toward me and said, “See!! You look like her…except you’re prettier.” At that point, I laughed out loud and said, “I don’t really see it, but that is one of the nicest things I’ve heard all week.” And that is when that man lost all credibility.
I’d always wondered if not being able to tell people of certain races apart was just a White person problem. I didn’t think it was…and now have one very solid data point to support my hypothesis.
Continuing with my catch-up, in no particular order:
I started my new job on September 23! I am working for a BIG bank and learning to adjust to everything that entails. Observations (that I can put on my blog–there are plenty I can’t/won’t): people live to work; a 10-hour work day is completely normal. In Boston, my co-workers seemed to have a decent work-life balance, and the office was essentially dead by 5:30pm. Here, it skews heavily toward work, work, work. IN FACT, my first day was a shock to my system. My friends, E and B, were in town and we planned to meet up for dinner. I assured them that I could meet them at 5:30 or 6pm. I mean, how long could they possibly keep me on my first day? Boy was I surprised when I clocked an 11-hour day.
Another thing: our vending machine takes plastic. <<Help me>>
- have been out for drinks (or mocktails as the bartender insisted on saying over and over and over…dude, I got it the first time ten times you mentioned it!) at Gottino, a wine bar, with a former co-worker
- went to Brooklyn to take in the NYC skyline (my photo above), see photo exhibits in storage containers, and eat pizza at Grimaldi’s
- went to a Mormon symposium on Faith and Doubt, the Tenement Museum, and the Highline with wonderful Boston friends
- visited the fountain at Lincoln Center multiple times
- stood in the longest check-out line at a Trader Joe’s I’ve ever seen (tag-teaming with a friend is highly recommended…one stands in the line while you continue your shopping, then switch!)
- went to the NYC ballet
- ran in Central Park (and felt like I’d entered a road race. There are SO many people running there…and they’re all faster than me!)
- have hung out at the laundromat enjoying the fact that I can finish 5 loads of laundry in 1.5 hours…as long as I don’t care that my towels are still damp
- have been on a walking food tour of the East Village (yum!) with K and a new friend, V, where I had the best NY-style pastrami sandwich (and, in general, I don’t like pastrami, folks! Be sure to order The Other Thing)
- watched General Conference
- have gone on MANY long walks, including walking the George Washington bridge
- met a lot of new friend hopefuls (I’m hoping they’ll be friends with me…)
- built “furniture” (anything made of particle board can hardly be classified as furniture)
- continued to unpack
- have gotten to know my roommate better
- had house guests
- have been disappointed by BBQ twice (to be fair, I am a BBQ snob and believe that KC BBQ is the only true BBQ…neither of these were KC BBQ)
- reconnected with old friends from high school
- listened to Broadway hopefuls sing their hearts out for a chance at their big break
- learned about the Couch Doctor
- rode the A line all the way to the end…on purpose
- bought 6 pairs of shoes in one day
- cooked at home twice (eggs and oatmeal do not count)
- tried to convinced my body that it can survive on <6 hours of sleep…it doesn’t believe me.