The Side Eye

If we were having coffee, I experienced something that has had me wondering since it happened. This hasn’t happened in a little while, but I wonder if this will be something that I will now have to expect more and more, given the current climate in my country.

I was in the airport on a long sit (about 4 hours because of delays!), and I discovered that my airport has a Gap clothing store in it! I love the fit of Gap jeans, so I went in to peruse. I was trying on a jacket, and went to put it on when a white woman approached me. She started to pose a question about something in her hand, then paused and asked “Do you work here?”

Now, I understand that the people at Gap dress pretty casually. What I fail to understand is how she could ask me that question when I was not dressed casually at all! I was in my full flight attendant uniform with the scarf and all! Not even floor managers at the Gap are that dressy. I had to restrain myself from giving her a snappish answer, but I definitely looked at her like she was crazy.

So much of me wondered if she assumed I worked there because I was the first brown face that she saw close by. Like I said, I’ve had this happen before. I’m pretty sure most brown people have. Your class doesn’t spare you from the side eye and careless assumptions such as these.

Jon Stewart used to talk about matters like this when he hosted The Daily Show. I love that he, and a few others, have used their platforms to be like John the Baptist. However, their cry isn’t that the kingdom of heaven is near. Their cry is that “Racism is still alive and well! Prejudice and ignorance are still king in this country!” Any time that citizens of this country (people of colour that are legal citizens, LGBTQ folks, disabled persons)–people that have helped make up the tapestry that is this country–are fearful for their safety, that should be a concern for ALL persons. It’s not enough for merely those minorities to be concerned; sadly, their voices aren’t heard as well for reasons of which we’re all aware, even if we deny them.

There need to be others… more like him. Not everyone in this country is prejudiced, but not everyone is speaking out against those acting on their fear and ignorance. This is what makes me sad and afraid. More than anything, I wish that there was something I could do to stir change… but I don’t know where to start. I’m just one person. One black person and one woman. Who feels like her voice wouldn’t be heard.


3 thoughts on “The Side Eye

  1. I’ve been watching from over here, well I imagine the world has been watching, aghast at the turn of events in your country. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live there and see hard won freedoms being eroded in front of your eyes, as ugliness crawls out from where it’s been hiding. It’s a true shame, and I hope the next four years aren’t going to be as difficult as they’re shaping up to be. I’m sorry that woman was so ignorant, too, and that it’s been playing on your mind. Wishing you joy and light this holiday season xx

    • Thanks so much! I talked to another friend about it because I guess I needed confirmation that I wasn’t jumping to conclusions. She’s also white, and was like “Oh yeah. You weren’t imagining that.” There’s always been awful things going on in the States, but the idea that it could get worse makes me sad and afraid. I’ve talked to my counselor about it because I did have something like a panic attack over it once.

      • Oh, that’s awful, just awful. I’m really sorry to hear that. I hope that there’s going to be a real push back against all this ugliness – it may be the one good thing that comes out of it, more people standing up for others.

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