Race & Politics

The Notice.

42-20714731Depth.

I wonder if white people walk into a room full of white people and notice that everybody is, ya know, white?

I know I do (I’m Black though). Everytime I walk into a room where the overwhelming majority of people are white I not only notice but I look for the other person(s) of color in the room. Of course, once I notice them, we spend the the duration of time that we’re in said location pretending not to notice one another.

But we notice. Oh, how we notice. I’m sure that white people would do it as well if they walked into a room full of coloreds. But that’s mostly because they’re in jail at that point and it’s going to be lights out pretty soon for them anyway.

Lights out?!? That’s a pun and I didn’t even intend it. There should be a term for those puns that people accident-upon. Something like: no pun intended.

That’d be swell.

This “recognition-lack of recognition” of one another makes me realize something: Black people are screwed. We have the worst sense of unity of any other cultural group; I’m convinced of it. I went to both an HBCU and a big ole’ white public state school on the East Coast. At HBCU’s there’s no rush to speak or even notice all the Black people since we’re in such abundance; never mind that it’s a completely false representation of the real world and that it shouldn’t be taken for granted that we’re in the midst of likeminded individuals who can actually read and aren’t afraid of information at the same place at the same time. Yet, we gloss over the importance and landmark-ism of it all.

It’s college, who the f*ck cares. Give me my hours and give me my degree. F*ck you, pay me.

Amazing how many people long for that constant recognition of successful driven Black people once they graduate (unless you went to Morehouse since ninjas apparently don’t graduate from there much) and re-enter the world we’re all more familiar with — you know, the world where its hard as hell to find the professional Black crowd and we’re often left longing for the intellectual stimulation that comes along with late night arguments about which A Tribe Called Quest album was better, The Low-End Theory or Midnight Marauders.

It’s Midnight Marauders, by the way. You can disagree but you will be wrong.

At our HBCU’s we see eachother but we don’t really notice one another. We’re just all there so we assume we’ll always be there – don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone kind of thing.

And then we have the big state schools were there’s usually a handful of coloreds who STILL make all attempts NOT to notice one another. When I went to Big A** State University, every time I’d see a Black person I’d speak. Hell, we had the same struggle. We were pepper sprinkles in a big ass cauldron of salt. Not just that, but filled with lots of salt that didn’t really want much peppering.

Ignored.

Constantly.

At first I took it personal. Why on earth would these mother*ckers have the audacity to not respond back to me saying “hello?” These northern bastards. Then I realized that its part of the what we all do, even amidst times when we should have unity. We spend time noticing but not noticing one another as if to act like we don’t need to.

We have no unity. We have no unity when we’re unified and we have no unity when we should have unity and the opportunity exists. I don’t give a damn if I’ve never met you in life. If I walk into a KKK meeting and I see a Black cat you better believe I’m going to notice him since we have a common struggle.

Assuming I’m at a KKK meeting our common struggle is probably literally a struggle but hey, common is common.

Sometimes I’ll go out of my way to speak to the other Negroes in a room. Of course, then we look like a gang which is never a good thing when you’re in the midst of a bunch of people who know how to dial 911 and don’t think that 911 is a joke.

Our lack of unity, which is partially caused by our rise in social and economic status — face it, we don’t all have the same struggle anymore — is ultimately our downfall. We want equality but we all won’t even get on the same page in a room full of people who don’t look like us. Hell, we don’t even know what book each other’s reading.  Are we even supposed to be reading the same book?

Would we even notice?

Deep.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka GIIIIIIIIIRL, HE A 3

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Damon Young

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. He believes the children are our future and is waiting to find out if he is the 2nd most interesting man in the world.

  • PrincesMo

    i was just talking about this today, but particularly about the absence of a young, professional, african american community– and also how when a group of blk people get togther in a crowd of 2520s, whther at a school in a neighborhood, or wherever, we are deemed to be culturally isolating ourselves– i think this is a major part of the problem–no one ever talks about white ppl banning together/living/ organizing together as an issue becuase whiteness is the status quo and hardly ever challenged.

    • PrincesMo

      @PrincesMo,
      i dunno why this posted twice, sorry

    • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

      @PrincesMo,

      i absolutely feel you on this….there is so much stigma around us gathering (gets back to jim crow and earlier) that i find myself getting angry about it! i mean, why should four or five black people together be so intimidating to a damned congregation of 2520s?? what exactly do they think we’re plotting?

      • YGB

        @shatani,

        Man this sh1t pisses me off! At my previous job, some white person would have the nerve to ask “why are you guys sitting here all by yourselves – you should mingle”. So it’s not mingling until you are in the mix with some yt’s I suppose. All the white people would be a-mingaling with each other and no one would bat an eyelid! To hell with that sh1t!

        • Me fail english?

          @YGB,

          Tell it! I actually changed careers because of this. Once upon a time I was positioning myself for a pretty lucrative career in media sales (easy six figures by age 26, and none of the time commitment associated with finance/medicine/law). I sold well, I had a solid network, blah, blah, blah. But in this highly unprofessional environment (esp. since I was one of only a few women) I decided not to partake of their afterhour reindeer games (straight up grown ass frat boy ish). Don’t you know my boss brought up the fact that I didn’t hang out at the bar long enough with them as an area for improvement at my performance review. I was at happy hour, chilling with the coloreds. Don’t shoot me just cause I dont wanna do car bombs on a Tues.

          Its like this sense of entitlement where I’m supposed to ingratiate myself to them even long after the clients have gone home, otherwise I seem like I’m “not happy here”. They tried pulling that same bullish on the Asian dude (who happened to be my office bestie) despite us pulling more than our fair share with the people we actually shoulda been reaching out to…the clients! I left. He got laid off. SOB’s!

          • KingPine

            @Me fail english?,

            *fist up*

            Did the same thing too….

            A. I spend enough time around y’alls bullsh!t as it is
            B. Your life ain’t my life…..
            C. I’m out

            • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

              @KingPine,

              i like how you lay out your points! cuts right to the chase!

  • shay_d_lady

    I have witnessed this phenomenon…I went to a small state school with a small black population and we all knew each other but spent most of our time trying to avoid being “the stereotype”…I think this happens a lot when we are in the majority we take it for granted and when we are in the minority we try to be as non assuming as possible. I went through that my freshman and sophomore year and as a jr/sr I realized that I cant do anything but be me and love all that i am the things that reinforce the stereotype AND the things that bust it wide open. I still speak when I see another black person and I think of all black people whether they chose to acknowledge it or not as my kin in this struggle. The memphis city school superintendant gave a speech in which he said “freedom is a hard fought thing, and each generation has to earn it again”. I agree and therefore all of my black people are fighting for our generations freedom..I hope I never get to ahead of my self or to removed from who and where I came from that I forget that…..

    • http://www.museacdonline.com pgh muse

      @shay_d_lady, “freedom is a hard fought thing, and each generation has to earn it again”. I agree and therefore all of my black people are fighting for our generations freedom..I hope I never get to ahead of my self or to removed from who and where I came from that I forget that…..

      Amen!

    • ofloveandotherdemons

      @shay_d_lady,
      How would associating with each other though lead to ‘stereotypical’ behaviour? I’m genuinely curious.

      • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

        @ofloveandotherdemons,

        well, speaking from personal experience, there seems to be a common belief among some white folks that black people only want to be around other black people, and that when we are together we talk about how much we hate them.

        *hears carly simon singing “you probably think this song is about you” in my head*

        • peachi

          @shatani,

          yeah, we had a lot of (unsuccessful) dialogue about this in my undergrad. i was at a private, predominately white school, and all (well, majority) of the black folk would sit and clown together whenever we had a meal. there were only about 60 of us per graduating class, so we felt the need to share some kind of time together, if only briefly, during the day. a frequent question at any forum where we had open dialogue about race was “why do all the black kids sit together in the union?”

          ironic how this came out during my years there: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Why-Are-All-the-Black-Kids-Sitting-Together-in-the-Cafeteria/Beverly-Daniel-Tatum/e/9780465083619

          • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

            @peachi,

            i LOVE this book! i have it and it was also one of the required texts for my diversity class in grad school. im telling you, nothing brings out 2520 people’s TRUE thoughts about other races like a good ole fashioned diversity class. i saw some true colors that semester and it changed my perspectives on a LOT of people.

            • Me fail english?

              @shatani,

              Hmm, Sounds like watching Roots. I’m glad I only took one Soci class. Blood pressure woulda shot through the roof!

        • shay

          @shatani,
          “there seems to be a common belief among some white folks that black people only want to be around other black people, and that when we are together we talk about how much we hate them.”

          i notice black people think this about hispanic people, especially when they’re speaking spanish.

          • http://www.satyasslant.blogspot.com Satya

            @shay, I don’t. but that’s probablly b\c I went to ahigh school dominated by latinos and spent alot of times in the Heights

          • http://freetherapyorelse.blogspot.com Ms. Sula

            @shay,

            Most races/ethnic groups/cultural entities tend to think that about other people who are not their race/ethnic group/cultural entity… Especially when said group is in the majority.

          • Nikiloveli

            @shay,

            I think that’s more when they are speaking English, then suddenly switch languages when you get closer.

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

          @shatani,

          black people only want to be around other black people, and that when we are together we talk about how much we hate them.

          lol…this isn’t true?

          • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

            @The Champ,

            not EVERY time! sometimes we just wanna talk about Girlfriends of The Game or the latest Tyler Perry abomination!

        • ChiChi

          @shatani,

          I’m starting to think I just might be a tad bit prejudice cuz I don’t really want to hang with the 2520s… At all. LOL

  • Leila

    “This “recognition-lack of recognition” of one another makes me realize something: Black people are screwed. We have the worst sense of unity of any other cultural group; I’m convinced of it.”

    The degree of it depends on where you live, but in general this is true. I’ve worked in upstate NY, DC, and Seattle and tried to get involved in the community of each city. The worst was upstate NY where black people would not support each other and put no effort in anything. There was no sense in community. This is gonna sound strange considering the lack of color in the NW, but I actually find the most unity in Seattle specifically for the African American population that relocated here from other cities to work for companies like Boeing, Microsoft, etc. One girl that went to Howard lives here and hosts dinners at her house every Thursday night and a big percentage of the African American professionals in Seattle get together and there’s a strong bond between us. People are very active in the community and we’re starting a non-profit to help disadvantaged youths. I’m 30 years old and this is the first time that I can honestly say that I felt a connection to the African American population in my community.

    • ofloveandotherdemons

      @Leila,
      The worst was upstate NY where black people would not support each other and put no effort in anything. There was no sense in community.

      Playing devil’s advocate:
      Why should one feel a sense of community based on ethnicity/race/gender etc? Maybe the communities in upstate NY align themselves on other factors rather than race. I don’t know, I think this notion of ‘race based communities’ perturbs me a wee bit. It’s based on something we have no control over

      • Leila

        @ofloveandotherdemons, NY is a very diverse state and I have friends from all different backgrounds including race, culture, economic, etc. But at the same time, race connects people and it’s important to know your identity. My point wasn’t to always align yourself with all black people at all times, but I grew up in upstate NY and it seemed like a lot of black people did not support each other’s events. One of my friends was trying to change the vibe by creating events catered towards young black professionals which didn’t exist at the time. Instead of receiving support from the black community, he had a lot of haters who did now want to succeed. This seemed to be common and it was sad because I did not see the same thing occurring in other communities. There’s a lack of unity in black people at times like Panama said in his blog.

    • blackroot

      @Leila,

      I live in Seattle, too. Black folks are pretty welcoming–except for the professional set downtown. They break their necks trying not to see you, so i’m pretty sure they don’t want to say anything. However, I spend most of my time in the CD, and damn if people don’t mean-mug you to death. (half joking.) don’t get me started on the guys who feel they can call you out just because you’re both black, never mind that they ain’t coming correct. Organizing is sometimes difficult because people be carrying on grudges. Mostly, though, the black people that I work and hang with want to get together and are openly down for creating black-only spaces, or at least POC-only spaces (we are, after all, in the PNW).

      Going out is entirely a different story, though, because black guys here only have eyes for the white chicks. I have to go to African or Caribbean places to find guys who are glad to see me. In the end, though, I’m looking to leave. There just aren’t enough of us around up here, period. (except in Tacoma but that place is too small!)

    • http://freetherapyorelse.blogspot.com Ms. Sula

      @Leila,

      That has been my experience with Seattle as well. Our company even had a Black diversity committee where the new hires (like I was) would be shown around the city (the hot spots) by the older black employees.

      I truly did love Seattle.

  • http://www.museacdonline.com pgh muse

    *** Applause*** I’m in awe of this post, TANGLE JIG P aka GIIIIIIIIIRL, HE A 3! It’s great… And this is SOOO real! How about when you work for a company that has a sprinkling of black people and there is one HR rep who is assigned to your division and happens to also be black but won’t return your phone calls or follow up on your issue because they’re SCARED. It is crazy, and constantly makes me think of the challenges that Black folks of previous generations faced to get us here and how so many of us turn our backs on each other these days out of fear. Fear of seeming too “black” in front of white counterparts like there’s something wrong with it… but then again, when you go home… there’s the fear of seeming too “white” to the friends and family members who aren’t members of the talented tenth… oh the duality of the modern Negro.

    • Ms. Hall

      @pgh muse,

      I’ll just co-sign because I suspect there will be a lot of posts. I agree with you. I was awe struck by the post as well. Great insight Panama. This has been the story of my life since university and now I live in Japan.

      “there’s the fear of seeming too “white” to the friends and family members who aren’t members of the talented tenth”

      LOL. A friend and I call these folks the “officials.” They’re the keepers of Negritude.

      • http://www.museacdonline.com pgh muse

        @Ms. Hall, LOL. A friend and I call these folks the “officials.” They’re the keepers of Negritude.

        lol… I’ve got maaad stories about the antics of people on both sides of this…the ones from the talented tenth who forget that you knew them when they were just “Peaches” when ya’ll were kids, and from those whose first sentence after you say “Hi” is “Don’t be using all those big words when you talkin’ to me…” I can’t help it tho… that’s just how I talk. Dang. Ne who,VSB is the debil incarnate…

        • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

          @pgh muse,

          i wanna hear some stories! i know all about those, “oh, so what? you wanna cookie?!?!” type folks….the officials, as i am going to now call them, are on patrol all the time!

      • Gem @ the NBGSA Conference

        A friend and I call these folks the “officials.” They’re the keepers of Negritude.

        LOL i love it!!! “officials” are the worst tho…

        • http://www.myspace.com/chicanextdoor Miss Patterson

          @Gem @ the NBGSA Conference, my uncle calls these folks the ‘head n*ggas in charge’. HNIC, for short. I’ve got one at my job and she seems to go out of her way to hire the most incompetent people of color she can. Not only does she do her job poorly, but she seeks out other people to poorly represent people of color (blacks and latinos) to the masses. All of the people she hires come with the complete package of teeth sucking, neck rolling, eye rolling and no home training when they talk to patients. it gets on my last nerve.

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

            @Miss Patterson,

            my uncle calls these folks the ‘head n*ggas in charge’. HNIC, for short

            this is original.

            • V Renee

              @The Champ

              You’re such a smart azz :-P

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

        @Ms. Hall,

        “there’s the fear of seeming too “white” to the friends and family members who aren’t members of the talented tenth”

        LOL. A friend and I call these folks the “officials.” They’re the keepers of Negritude.

        ***writing term and definition down in my mental lexicon***

    • http://www.satyasslant.blogspot.com Satya

      @pgh muse, exactly! the black woman that was acting distant from me is the 2nd in command in my department and is scared to stand up for her workers. There was an error with my check and I brought it to her attention and she said she would handle it. I followed up with an e-mail two days later do you think she responded.. no. And she ducked and dodged me so I went to the dept myself. There was a latin woman that worked in accounting and she told me that my boss is scared to confront the big cheeses when she or others in the dept have been wronged. That is ridiculous.

      • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

        @Satya,

        its really such a crappy situation…especially for the black HR rep. because the minute youre perceived as “playing favorites” for other PoC, then every damn thing you say and do is colored (pun intended). its almost as if you are summarily disregarded as some “negro activist” who is “too sensitive”

        • EssenceBK

          @shatani,

          its almost as if you are summarily disregarded as some “negro activist” who is “too sensitive”

          I think some black people try extra hard to make it seem like they are ‘over’ our history. Although I do not think it’s OK for black people to use race as the root cause of all their issues, it is important to acknowledge that we do have a history. Because of this, I also always speak to other people of color in the room, esp. when we’re the minority. For the “official,” the simple act of saying ‘hello’ to another person of color in a room full of white people makes them self-conscious… “God forbid they think I’m talking about slavery… I’ll just ignore you–safer that way.”

          • Me fail english?

            @EssenceBK,

            “God forbid they think I’m talking about slavery… I’ll just ignore you–safer that way.”

            Lol. I never got this logic on some people. You think by not acknowledging me they’ll up and forget that you’s colored??

            Not only do they still notice, but now they don’t respect you, dummy. I’m not coming to work in Dashiki’s and afro puffs but I’ll be damned if I aint taking MLK day off cuz my black ass thought I was “passing”. They can think what they want. If your boss is prejudiced, they probably already had their mind made up that you’re plotting the revolution anyway.

            • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

              @Me fail english?,

              Amen on this whole post!

  • http://www.satyasslant.blogspot.com Satya

    Interesting and true post. My freshmen year of college I went to an interesting school. It wasn’t an HBCU but 2520s were the minority. There were black folks, Africans, Asians etc.. and everyone got along pretty well. The groups you’d see in the dining hall were very mixed. Now i’m at a PWI that does have a decent minority population, but it’s very different. In the different dining areas the minority students are congregated together and the white kids are together and no one seems to really integerate unless they are in a club together (which is rare because the minority kids are usually in “ethnic clubs” (Haitian society, Black Student Association etc…) or had a class together.

    I’m not gonna lie sometimes I do look around when i’m in a new setting and try spot the other “coloreds”. When I started working @ my lawfirm and was in training I made the effort to talk to the 2 other black ppl in my dept. 1 was warm an inviting the other tried to act all removed like she wasn’t down with the bonding process. Two weeks at the job she asked me if i could give her my hair dressers # as she’d like to make an appt lol.
    Sorry so long. Let’s be more unified folks and a little nicer. Especially when we’re the pepper sprinkles

    • Dorian G.

      @Satya,

      My freshmen year of college I went to an interesting school. It wasn’t an HBCU but 2520s were the minority.

      Did you go to Temple?

      • http://www.satyasslant.blogspot.com Satya

        @Dorian G., no. I went to University of Bridgeport. Small crummy school but it’s a unique place

        • http://freetherapyorelse.blogspot.com Ms. Sula

          @Satya,

          I didn’t even know Bridgeport (Connecticut right?) had a university! :)

      • Ms. Sassy

        @Dorian G.,

        TU Mutha…. Lol. Couldn’t resist. Lol

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

          @Ms. Sassy,

          welcome and sh*t

        • Dorian G.

          @Ms. Sassy,

          You watching the game on friday?

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      @Satya,

      welcome and sh*t (i think)

  • Resident GRitS

    I was recently walking through a hospital w/my brother (shortly after my niece was born) and couldn’t help but notice how many strangers he acknowledges everywhere he went; I also couldn’t help but notice that they were all black. When white people walked by, nothing; when a brother/sister walked by, he wouldn’t hesitate to acknowledge them…even if he was mid-sentence.

    This made me extremely aware, and perhaps for the first time, of the fact that I DO NOT do this and then I had to question myself as to why. I attempted to justify by saying that b/c I’m (1) usually walking alone, (2) relatively low-key, (3) precautious b/c I’m a SBF, it’s not that I’m an a$$hole, I’m just conditioned to act a certain way. Damn. Conditioned? So…I only speak when I’m spoken to? Have I really been trained to be seen and not heard? Wtf?…liberation is just my illusion. That’s some deep shit.

    Tangent: I once knew this mixed dude in high school who was considered, for all intent and purpose, black. Extremely popular, varsity point guard, dated the cutest (black) girls, garnered the respect of everyone, seemed comfortable in his skin. He graduated a year before me and we ended up going to the same state school…and in a year’s time, he’d switched his whole game up. Straight Abercrombie & Fitch, Birkenstocks, wore glasses instead of contacts, traded his close-cut for a curly fro, didn’t talk to anyone from his past (to avoid their stares, I’m sure), completely embraced his whiteness to – what I considered – his own detriment. The year 2000…and dude was “passing.” I was amazed.

    • http://myspace...iguess An Uninspired Muse

      @Resident GRitS,

      I would have called that mofo out quick…

    • http://www.blkbond.blogspot.com BlkBond

      @Resident GRitS,

      Negros are still ‘passing’ in one way or another. Disgusting.

      SMH.

      Bond. BlkBond.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      @Resident GRitS,

      So…I only speak when I’m spoken to? Have I really been trained to be seen and not heard?

      lol, maybe you’re just an assh*le

  • http://presidentialtelevisionandfilm.ning.com Monk

    N*ggas need to get over themselves. Point. Blank.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      @Monk,

      lol…this is probably the latent theme beneath most of our topics here

  • Dorian G.

    Yo I don’t even feel the need to recognize and respond to this post as I’m clearly above all y’all ni**as.

    • iloVEGrits

      @Dorian G.,

      go sat down somewhere. Yes…sat.

    • ofloveandotherdemons

      @Dorian G.,
      *giggle* *giggle* *snort*

      I like snarkiness.

    • maria

      @Dorian G.,

      off topic 100% did you ever hook up that happy hour thing in l.a ?

      • Dorian G.

        @maria,

        LOL how am I supposed to set up a happy hour when I know nothing about the area???

        If you’re in the LA area this week, send me an email: graywords1000@yahoo, and we’ll set up a happy hour.

    • Me fail english?

      @Dorian G.,

      LMAO!

    • YGB

      @Dorian G.,

      LMAO! I think I like you!

      • Dorian G.

        @YGB,

        Don’t worry, its a natural reaction when you’ve been exposed to me. Trust me I’ll do something to ruin it within 90 days or so lol.

        • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

          @Dorian G.,

          there is definitely something to be said for consistency!

        • YGB

          @Dorian G.,
          hahahaha! Way to lower expectations!

    • http://freetherapyorelse.blogspot.com Ms. Sula

      @Dorian G.,

      I knew one of you (either you or Monk) would act ig’nant up in this piece. :lol:

      I see you both have not let me down. :D

  • iloVEGrits

    First, well written, punny post, PJ. Kudos.

    Second, maybe I live on another planet but I have not, luckily, witnessed this phenomenon. Having grown up in mostly black neighborhoods (in New Orleans, then Chicago) I am used to being around all black folk during the day. In elementary school, I went to a school where my brother and I and some other kid were the only black kids there (high school was different… I proudly, and by choice, went to a mostly black urban high school. My parents didn’t understand, lol.).

    Back to my point: My first two years of college were at an HBCU, my last two at a creative arts college where the majority of the student body was white kids with multiple body piercings and rainbow colored mo-hawks.

    At the HBCU, kids were quick to speak and befriend each other. Of course, the speaking and befriending was clique and social status based, but folks noticed each other and realized how special it was to be among other folks who looked like them, could read and had big dreams.

    At the creative arts college, black students definitely sought each other out and even banned together when some shady, racist ish went down in the name of creative expression.

    In Chicago, where I live, and New Orleans where I spend a lot of time, I am part of really, strong vibrant social and professional networks. Folks get together for fun or in the name of planning the next movement (most of my friends are community organizers!) but the acknowledge and respect the fact that we, college educated black folk are rare while still acknowledging the reality that most of our peers haven’t been so lucky.

    I go to a lot of theatre and art gallery events and there are rarely more than a handful of dots (i.e. black folk) there. But the ones who are there make it a point to speak to each other.

    In the N.O., I hang with black folk who, after partying it up on some Mardi Gras/Zulu tip go to networking and charity events and organize rally’s to protest the city’s lack of interest in developing poorer areas in the city.

    Maybe you should move. ;)

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      @iloVEGrits,

      Second, maybe I live on another planet but I have not, luckily, witnessed this phenomenon

      its not that you live on another planet, its just that, from what you’ve said, you travel in art-sy, community organizing-ey, diversity championing-ey circles, so, chances are, you’re gonna be around more open-minded and unpretentious people.

    • http://so-calledshenanigans.blogspot.com/ 3rdSupreme

      @iloVEGrits,

      I was thinking the same thing. Maybe it’s a south central/midwest thing. I attended a small university in East Texas and had a similar experience. Even as early as freshman orientation, the black students were eager to speak and share with newer students tips on how to survive in such a school. Some of my friends are convinced I attended an HBCU because of the stories I share about my school days. It’s because there was a close network of Blacks on campus that began as soon as I stepped on the campus. Even my friends who stayed in Oklahoma and went to larger white schools, said that other blacks were eager to meet them and for the most part would stick together on campus; racial issues or not. This is why the BSA/BSO of most of the schools was the strongest organization on the campus.
      Maybe it’s because we’re so excited to see one another. Growing up and living in the south central/midwest is crazy. You almost have to latch on to someone who looks like you in order to survive. And we learn that from jump… like elementary school…shameful, huh. Sometimes it feels as though nothing has changed since the 60′s in this part of the country. But I digress…sorry.

  • ofloveandotherdemons

    ‘Pepper sprinkles’ has definitely been my dominant experience since I arrived in the states. Even though I was in a state school with a huge black student population (black internationals also) for my undergrad, the major I choose had predominantly white students. Needless to say, this was quite the shock for me coming from an environment where 99.8% of the population looked like me, straight into the ‘pepper sprinkle’ phenomena (there was a maximum of three students in every sophomore-senior course that I took). The other black students’, in the department, behavior, from my experience, fell in with their nationality; African Americans were either: cautiously friendly, openly hostile or indifferent, while the other two black internationals and I stuck to each other like glue.
    When I moved down to the OC for graduate school, I was convinced for the first three months that they had banned all blacks from the county and the only reason I was residing there is that I had somehow managed to fall through the cracks. Seriously, I saw exactly five black people in my first two months here. I was freaking out. Yeah, and the college I attended had a 1% black student population according to the 2007 student body census. Anyway, I’m so used to being the pepper sprinkle in the sea of salt that I hardly check for other chocolate bunnies in the vicinity.
    Honestly, though, 99.9% of the time, any fellow Africans that I’ve met not only do not ignore me but I usually end up with an invitation for tea or lunch within an hour of meeting them. I think the commonality of being an immigrant far outweighs every other concern, i.e. avoiding stereotypical behavior, appearing non-threatening or blending in with the status quo.
    I’ve always felt that minorities born in the USA or raised here for most of their childhood always seem to be walking a tight rope between appeasing their own community and dealing with the world at large; maybe this is one of the reasons for the “recognition-lack of recognition” act.

    • http://www.satyasslant.blogspot.com Satya

      @ofloveandotherdemons, what is your major?
      I’m a history major and at my school i’ve encountered 5 black students in major classes. There were a bunch in the core history classes but somewhere between HIS 1000 and 2800 they all vaporized.

      • ofloveandotherdemons

        @Satya,
        Chemistry/Math, as an undergrad. The Math dept. was 97% filled with kids with origins in some part of Asia, and the Chem dept. was mostly all white.

    • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

      @ofloveandotherdemons,

      so very well put. i think the “strangers in a strange land” phenomenon is much stronger. i, too, have been the pepper sprinkle (or the lone chococalte chip, as i call myself) for the majority of my life….i wouldnt say that i dont look for other black people, i always do. but im not particularly uncomfortable if there are none.

      on the idea of acknowledgment, there is also something to be said for regional behavior. im from boston…blackness aside, people do not readily greet strangers where im from (short of those in the service industry and even that is hit or miss!)…so, its not my first inclination to greet anyone, black or otherwise. it feels weird to me. i will always respond in kind, but i go on the assumption that folks who dont know me dont really want to talk to me until theyve shown me otherwise.

      • lulu

        @shatani,
        “so, its not my first inclination to greet anyone, black or otherwise. it feels weird to me. i will always respond in kind, but i go on the assumption that folks who dont know me dont really want to talk to me until theyve shown me otherwise.”

        I know exactly what you mean. What’s wierd is that I come from a culture that demands greeting people, even if you don’t know them. My mom always used to say that all you owe people is a greeting. She’s ashamed I don’t do it anymore.

        • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

          @lulu,

          right! a friend of mine who was born and raised in alabama feels relief being up north for school because she felt that pressure to greet people. she hated that obligation to stop and chat with people lest you be considered rude and you KNOW it’ll get back to your parents! she loves not doing it anymore…

        • YGB

          @lulu,

          For me greeting people (blacks specifically) is so much in me that I don’t even think about it. Where I’m from it’s rude to walk into a room and find someone there and not acknowledge their existence (even if you don’t know them)!

          • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

            @YGB,

            i walk into work like that every day! lol…ive always said, im just not neighborly.

      • ofloveandotherdemons

        @shatani,
        Yeah, the regional thing is definitely true. When I was in Texas, especially rural, hick filled TX (east Texas, Dallas not so much) strangers were more likely to start conversations with you on the street. California, not so much….Yeah, I’m not the overly friendly type. I don’t want to talk to your arse when I’m in the store picking up some cantoloupes. Leave me the ell alone. I do miss the random ‘sugar’ and ‘honey’ from the little old ladies I’d meet.

    • http://freetherapyorelse.blogspot.com Ms. Sula

      @ofloveandotherdemons,

      My experience has been pretty similar to yours. Actually very similar.

      I think the commonality of being an immigrant far outweighs every other concern, i.e. avoiding stereotypical behavior, appearing non-threatening or blending in with the status quo.

      This is the reason why most of the best friends I’ve made in the US have some sort of immigrant heritage. They’re either immigrant themselves and/or first-generation immigrants. Against all odds, I had more in common with my Indian colleague who would always be on the lookout for cheap calling cards to call her folks in New Dehli or my Thai friend whose mom is always bringing relatives over… naturally we became closer friends.

      • http://myspace.com/shatani shatani

        @Ms. Sula,

        that usually happens no matter where you go…i found myself connecting with other americans (and canadians) when i was abroad, regardless of their race….

      • ofloveandotherdemons

        @Ms. Sula,
        True, I usually feel some sort of connection with fellow immigrants (VISA holders especially). I know we are both jumping through the same hoops. All my really close friends, with the exception of two, are of Indian descent. It just sort of ended up that way. If I click with some one, I click with them; all the other stuff race, religion, gender, is not that big of a deal to me.