Stop looking at me like that…

Posted: June 14, 2011 in "Those People", Humans, women

So, my LJ Buddy Stagger Lee has a post up about her adventures, as a Black Woman, in Texas…at a fast food joint, where she dared to sit down next to a little white kid while his mom was in the bathroom and ask about the video game he was playing.  Heck, Lee has lots of posts about these sorts of things, a series which she calls “Adventures in Blackness”  (which is a title I love, btw), and while reading, I started to wonder if the Wierd Looks and stuff Lee was getting were not only due to her Blackness, but her also overall non conventionality and conformity?  Because sure enough, Lee marches to her own drum….and well, frankly, we have both often wondered if we are actually TWINS, separated at birth…but like different races and totally built differently and not looking a like at all….because well, yeah, in lots of other ways?  We could totally be related. 

But yeah, I did wonder about that…because I know as a non-conventional white gal, I get looked at funny a lot.  I am a surly, inked up, scar having, not so nicely dressing sort and sure enough, if I am with a kid (relative, friends kid, so on so forth) people will take one look at me with said child and give me the “get away from them you scumbag” look more often than not- even if I am doing something like, oh, helping them get their bike outta a bush or giving ’em a bandaid or something.   So I know how it goes with people looking at ya funny due to not being what…well…folk think you should be.

BUT, add to this that Lee is Black, and it is Texas.  One, I think conventional or not, Black Women have it tougher when it comes to this sorta thing.  A White Lady sitting down and asking a little black kid about a video game?  Most folk would not bat an eye if the White Lady was, well, conventional.  Prolly would not bat an eye AS MUCH at a non conventional white lady as non conventional Black Woman….and well…TEXAS.  Which IS in many parts VERY multi-cultural, but I do think A LOT of those womenfolk down in Texas take their feminine beauty rituals and all VERY Seriously.  The Beauty Queen with the Shotgun thing?  Texas.  Totally.  So yeah, I think Lee had both being black and Not Texas Conventional factoring in when she got the weird looks….

Which of course begs questions of race, class and location.  You know, I kinda think that Lee and I, what, with our tattoos and weird hair and all, could prolly stroll down the street in LA or NYC or Chicago or lots of other places and no one would look at us oddly except, well, shes like a foot taller than me.  We could prolly be tearing apart an engine together in New Orleans or Atlanta and no one would pause to take a second look.  I also think if we were in parts of DC, Lee would not get a second glance but I sure as hell would, in Charlestown WV I wouldn’t and she would, and well, in LOTS of places the fact that she is black and I am white would not raise as much dust as, oh, ewww, look at those two WOMEN in their grease stained jeans and with all those tattoos, oh heaven for fend!!! Never mind Lee is ex Army and defended the US and is, well, in Law Enforcement Now, and never mind that I have whenever possible been the first person to help out folk simply because they needed it- fixin a tire or mowing a lawn or whatever….well, we dress funny and have tattoos and swear a lot and party hard and all that stuff.  We’re not…very ladylike. 

 So yes, I do think race absolutely has something to do with it, and I do think a non-conventional Black Gal is gonna have it worse period than a non conventional White Gal….but this other stuff fascinates me too, the class aspects, the location aspects, the what women are supposed to be like aspects, ALL that….

Eh, ponder at will.

  1. kingschwarz says:

    You are correct: you and Stagger Lee – what a great lady’s name! – would not get a second look in New Orleans. Unless you were second-lining in the street, in which case you might get looks of appreciation, or rocking some truly outrageous outfits. And I do mean outrageous, since people here do not hesitate to wear the oddest things. Last year I noticed a larger than usual number of men and women dressed as pirates on the streets near my downtown office. I thought nothing much of this – it’s New Orleans, so why wouldn’t you dress like a pirate? – until several days later the daily paper ran a piece on the pirate convention in town. Another example: recently at a party I told a group of friends that I had always wanted an octopus costume (this goes back to a Charles Addams cartoon I loved as a kid). “Oh, we know someone who makes those,” they replied without batting an eye. As for tattoos, wild hair, grease stains – all par for the course (though the grease stains here are more likely from frying fish than fixing engines). Black and white together? That’s how we became Creoles. By the way, you and Stagger Lee can hang out with my grandkids any time if you can stand the chaos. Bring earplugs.

    • Ren says:

      Heh, I was wondering about the name change there King, is it a Marti Gras thing? And pirate fests…they have a HUGE one down in Tampa FL every year…tampa kinda wants to be N.O.I think….

      as for Lee and I in N.O…dunno if its a good idea, we’d both end up prolly having to get our stomachs pumped LOL.

      But yes, I do think a lot comes about with Location. Hell, seeems to me EVERYONE in LA looks odd somehow. Chicago? I LOOOOVE Chicago and have never seen so many seriously Inked Up Gals, with GOOD ink too, in one place, ever. Chicago is my kinda town- cept the weather lol. NYC, well, is NYC. Atlanta is not full on culturally accepting or non-racist, but well, has its OWN feel in many ways I think….. but yeah, I think while race IS a factor no question- lots of class issues and gender roll things and all that play in too

  2. kingschwarz says:

    I myself am baffled by the name change. When I figured out how to go to gravatar and customize my icon (at least I think that is what it is called – remember I was raised in the Pleistocene Era) I listed “King Schwarz,” an old monicker of mine. Nonetheless I appeared under my given name of Erik until gravatar recently and mysteriously switched to the monicker. Pretty hopeless. No doubt if I tried to tweet photos of my “junk,” like certain Congresspersons, I would end up sending pictures of my nose. Or somebody else’s.

    Tampa and New Orleans have some things in common. Actually many places on the Gulf Coast do. This was all pirate territory, and its colonial roots are Spanish and French, not English, with big-time African and Native American syncretism. Protestant values, which I think undergird much American culture in deep and largely unrecognized ways, were never foundational along the Gulf. The rest of the South likes to vacation here to escape its workaday Protestant ethic. And of course the sun, sand and fishing have appeal too.

    New Orleans is rather hard on the stomach. Your duodenum will acclimate, but it takes more than a few weeks. As for LA, I love it, but it is a strange place. I think some people are born there without souls. Chicago also great. Lots of arts and intellectual life without the snobbery. Atlanta – not my kind of town, but I do think it has become the capital of black America. Succeeding Washington DC and Harlem NY. About race, gender and class: I think class is emerging as the critical issue in the 21st-century social economy.

  3. Catlover says:

    With the pedophile hysteria around now, could that be distrust of adult with kid? OK, women are involved in pedo stuff too, we know that, but it might be subtler, just scared of not-me.The obvious not-me is a man, but the next big difference in looking ‘not-me’ after ‘different-sex’ is ‘different-race’ and what passes for ‘race’ now is both more complicated – far more varieties of them – and easier – so many not like me – than it used to be. Nothing ‘rational’ or ‘logical’, just the last ten years going backwards wound up frightened of any ‘not like me’ all ‘conveniently’ (for some) tied back into old fears and prejudices they thought they’d consciously lost.

    Christ, you can sort of see where they’re coming from to say that “We went there and taught them all they know and look what mess Africa was afterwards blah blah”. ‘Africans’ have been in the USA before it was the USA longer than half the ‘Europeans’. They were slaves. So were whites. And there were African slave-owners – money mattered more than race in colonial times (getting back to that!) Nobody ‘civilized’ anybody else.

    FFS that was 200 years ago.We’ve all crapped on each other. It should not still be going on and on. The US is turning into another freaking Iran with the influence that bible-thumping racist fuckwits are getting over there. It wouldn’t surprize me some time this century a Scientologist will be a serious Presidential contender.

    Even your fucking tattoos, chances are people here would look at them. Chances are then they’d smile and say “Great, wouldn’t mind one myself”, not “bler bler slut bler sex object bler no better than she should be”. Christ, they sell fake tattoo transfers in every shop for kids.

    It’s real shit news when this racist or whatever kind of ‘not-me’ prejudice is still commonplace. Do we have it? Of course. But it’s not The Accepted Norm and it’s not as general – and that is the difference.

    It hit me a few years ago, a reverse prejudice – OK we get on fine, but can I be sure that if a European puts his arm round her, she doesn’t think he sees her as just another colonial nigger fuck? That’s on top of a woman wondering if ‘friendly’ is just an excuse to fuck and run. Well, there’s always people you wish well, but wish you’d risked revealing more to.

    It’s such a contradiction that those people most into racism justify it by a Social Darwinism when they are mostly the first to preach ‘Creationist’ crap. Total fucking hypocrites even on their own sick terms.

  4. polly says:

    I would have thought that race had a lot to do with it. As to being stared at, well I’m an obvious looking dyke, and a straight friend (who looks like a thin attractive young straight woman) informs me we get stared at all the time when we’re out together – I don’t notice it all. I think I’ve developed staring blindness, or maybe I’m just not that observant – if I spent my days worrying about funny looks, and the odd bit of abuse, I’d never do anything else.

  5. as far as weird looks–well–I remember the first time I saw White Zombie–that was the first time I ever saw anyone with dreads……. Now tons of people have ’em.

    I remember being a little kid and starring at a guy with tattoos. My uncle asked him about them and he said he regretted getting them…. Now tons of people have ’em.

    Anyways, as far as being a man, you don’t approach or interact with kids that aren’t yours lest you be accused of being a chester the molester.

    I dunno….

  6. rootietoot says:

    And then there’s Terry, my husband, who regularly has strange women asking him to hold their babies while they go into a store. Women lean over and fall asleep on him in airplanes, ask him if they can get close to warm up when they’re in a cold place…complete strangers do this to him. They say he looks Trustworthy. Which he totally does, but the babies thing kind of freaks him out, and he refuses to do it.

  7. H says:

    I don’t know or care about all the details (didn’t read the original entry, there may be extenuating circumstances) and I don’t know how old the kids were. But, it don’t matter what color you are or how you are modified, don’t sit down next to my kid(s) in a fast food restaurant uninvited. I would be more annoyed by a clean cut 20 something in a cheap business suit and a pile of pamphlets (though my kids can handle thumpers). Helping a kid getting a bike out of a bush or coming to the aid of someone in distress is a different story, though some might legitimately wonder about motivation (see recent video of grown woman stealing foul ball from little girl).
    You have a right to look and dress however you wish, do not get upset when people respond to the image you are portraying. You may be kind, considerate and completely reasonable, but if you are wearing biker colors, or a “pray or be prey” tee shirt or carry a Spyderco tanto in a quick draw case then I am going to assume you have violence in your soul and getting too close to my kids without permission is asking for an intervention; the intensity of which is inversely proportional to their age and directly proportional to your attitude and image.
    Your right to swing you fist ends at the tip of my nose (actually somewhat farther away given a swing and a miss is still an attack). If I go pee and comeback to find anyone sitting next to my kids in a restaurant they have some explaining to do. Sign of the times.
    That being said black alt chick in dreads, Texas hmmm I suppose I would be jumping to conclusions if I were to assume racism; but it is an easy leap. Extinguishing “othering” from the range of human behavior is a bitch.

    • Ren says:

      H, uh, the kid is actually the kid of a friend of Lee’s, so not actually a STRANGER.

      And if a biker jacket and such earns your suspicious so quickly, ya might wanna be careful of the “normal looking” person with violence in their soul standing behind ya.

      As a person who looks pretty non-conventional, mostly by my own doing but in some ways not at all, i can tell ya this: We’re generally on our good behavior because Yeah, We Look Suspicious, People who don’t never worry about that shit will just generally BE assholes because no one is just gonna assume they are.

  8. H says:

    Oh no worries on the crazy people can look innocuous level, I have their ass also. Lets look at the biker color thing for a moment. Leather (sharkskin) is one thing, colors are another. Hell Angels, Devil’s Disciplines etc. are independent tough guy on bikes, typically armed, have organizational structures similar to the mafia, have chapters that are known criminal organizations. If you dress like them then you are attempting to project an image and intent similar to them, expect people to expect certain responses. Someone in colors comes at me he goes down much harder than the run of the mill street punk. Impression count Saddam Hussein convinced an number of people he was getting nukes, he went down hard, the crazy strong man thing blew up in his face.

    Have to deal with said offspring so I have to go.

    • Ren says:

      Well, if you are dumb enough to wear Club Colors WITHOUT being in the club, uhhhh, kinda begging for bad shit to happen to ya there. Not an advisable thing to do at ALL, really.

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