Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Fear of the Powerless
...He rounds the corner with great stride and wreckless abandon. In his eye there is a sense of menacing purpose. He seeks a prey to stalk. He sees it!
His stare is intent. The muscles in his ghastly, shadowy face begin to tighten. He is ready to pounce and claim what is rightfully his. There is no room for failure, for failure is not an option. This dark, towering savage must succeed. It is a matter of life and death. There is no time to think. No room for improvisation, as anything less than surgical-like precision and skill will allow the prey to escape. The prey is oblivious to his presence.
Everything is now in slow motion... every step pronounced with a resounding echo as he swiftly moves toward his unassuming victim... Internally, he chuckles demonically and delights in his forthcoming victory over his helpless prey.
...But then as he is a mere three steps away from his victim, the prey realizes that she is in danger! She is fearful... She experiences a heightened sense of things...
...In a matter of 0.5 seconds, a picture of this looming figure is burned into her pupils and retna. Her pupils dilate. This information travels from her eyes to her brain. Her neurons frantcially react to this danger and rush towards her cerebral cortex. This in turn triggers a chain reaction throughout her spinal cord which demands her nervous system to enact her natural defense mechanism...
...Her left arm muscles, which is where her brain tells her that the danger lies, are ready to deflect her stalker's charge and fend off his ill intent. Her muscles tighten...
She walks past me swiftly, exits Sears and heads towards her car. I continue on towards Lens Crafters for my 5:50 appointment to wrap up a contact lense fitting. She narrowly escaped my...wrath?
This has to be what goes through white women's minds when they encounter black males. This is the only logical thought process that I can think of that causes them to clutch their purses 90% of the time when they encounter us in stores, on sidewalks, elevators and pretty much anywhere.
I must admit that I have chalked it up to ignorance and fear of the unknown, but it is a constant reminder of how unresolved race issues are and that stereotypes are still very much alive. We are still mistrusted and looked down upon as the dregs of society.
It's easy to ignore it, but most of these purse clutchers probably are not conscious to the fact that they are doing it or that we recognize it. It's a second nature defense mechanism, even though most of them have probably never been the victim of these infamous purse snatchings. I'm sure they think it is because of their keen street smarts and the inpenetrable "purse tuck."
To put it simply their reasoning is... "He's Black so he probably wants to steal from me."
It is also not out of the question to assume that when I go in front of that mortgage loan officer or when I interview for that coveted position, she is going to be there; and before we talk business, I have to spend the first few minutes convincing her subconscious that I am not the purse snatcher that she was afraid of yesterday.
For those of you that know about W.E.B. Dubois' Double Consciousness Theory, it is very real. We do live double lives as Blacks and as Americans--especially Black males. We're conscious to the fact that we live in the land of opportunity, and with the right maneuvering, we can go on to make our wildest dreams come true. On the other side, we also know that just the mere sight of our skin color makes even the lowest majority members initially look at us as, and treat us like, second class citizens before they know what we're all about. We go through life walking that tight rope of trying to make it to the other side without falling to the netless ground of circumstance below.
I try not to let race issues deter me from moving forward with my life...to become a mental slave to the circumstance of being Black in America. I firmly believe that it is important to acknowledge that racism exists and move on. It is a problem that will not be eliminated in our lifetime, but letting it consume us will only heighten our mistrust and continue the stalemate.
It's hard and frustrating at times when you know that the chips are stacked against you and that you have to play the game a little harder, but this is the hand that we're dealt. There's no immediate cure. The only real cure is time...
Maybe next lifetime, but time.
Ignorance: A big fuck you goes out to the guy that beats up 101 year-old ladies at elderly homes and snatches their purses. Thanks for setting us back and perpetuating the stereotype. Good Job Buddy!