This community is a little sleepy lately, so I thought I'd wake it up. I've got two things to contribute: an incident I was recently involved in, and a book I've been reading.
Shit, the incident description got really long, I'll talk about the book in another post.
So about two weeks ago, I was driving with my best friend (who is also mixed) in her mother's car. This car is a bright orange, sporty-looking Dodge Neon with a spoiler, and I mention that because I think it may be one of the reasons we were "approached" at all. (I don't think we would have had the same incident in my sensible-looking Toyota Camry for example.)
So I’m at the wheel, we're at a stoplight, and a car pulls up next to us. Inside are two friendly looking black men (no really, they were friendly looking, all warm smiles). The driver leans out the window and says, "Excuse me, would you ladies be interested in some tunes?"
We're both confused (because we're a couple of lame gamer geeks on the opposite side of hip) so we say, "What?"
"Tunes," he says, "I've got some CDs I'm selling in the back here."
[I should take some time to explain this for people who may live in places where this doesn't happen all the time. There are a lot of budding rap artists in Sacramento (and in other places as well, I'm sure). Their main mode of CD sales is street solicitation. Every once in a while (not really any more than once a month or so), outside a record store or shopping center, I’ll get approached by a guy wanting me to buy his CD. I should also mention that “no” is not an answer they tend to take favorably, and in fact I’ve been downright harassed by some of them in the past.]
Kim (my best friend) says, “No thanks, we’re not really into rap music, and besides, I don’t really want to just give money to a stranger.”
Then the light changes and I pull forward. At the next red light, they pull up next to us again, and the guy immediately starts in on us again, “Come on, help a brother out.”
Kim, being not the most socially adjusted person in the world, gets a little weird on him, “Dude, I don’t know you from Adam, I’m not going to just buy something from you at a stoplight.”
Then it gets really weird. The guy frowns and goes, “Now see, that’s your white side talking. You got too much of your white side. You gotta’ get in touch with your roots.”
I laugh and say my standard response to statements like that, “I’m sorry race is that important to you.” Kim echoes my statement.
Dude gets really pissed then, and starts screaming, “What? What? It is important! Look at this!” he grabs one of his braids, which has beads on it (which I’m sure symbolizes something, but I have no idea what), “This is heritage! This is culture!”
The light changes and I start to drive.
“They’re beads,” Kim says to him (which I realize was very culturally insensitive, but like I said, she’s not all that socially adjusted and says some very unintentionally insensitive things sometimes).
Dude totally freaks out. Is screaming incoherently as we drive away, and starts following us; tailing us, actually. I had to act like I was turning left and then escape into traffic to get away from him. Craziness.
The thing about this story is, this is the response I always get from street vendor rappers. I mean, I’ve never been followed before (that was extra-super crazy) , but I’ve been yelled at, demeaned, and called a race traitor in so many words because I don’t want to buy a rap CD from some guy on the street. I once had a guy respond to my polite, “No thanks, it’s not really my kind of music,” with, “WELL FUCK YOU TOO, THEN!” I’ve heard the phrase, “Help a brother out,” more times then I care to mention, and that’s the sentiment that really pisses me off. This tells me that they’re expecting me to buy their CD solely because we share a skin color, like it shouldn’t matter that I don’t like the music and don’t want the CD, I should just give them money because hey, we’re supposed to be family. Well, I don’t buy it (no pun intended). I am under no obligation to buy something I don’t want just because the seller happens to be black.
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