Wednesday, February 27, 2013

OMG, did you mean BLACK people?

So we're talking about a friend's new boyfriend which no one has met yet.  Subtly my Cuban friend takes his right index finger and rubs it back and forth on the soft spot between his left thumb and finger.... the other Cuban guys squeal "OMG you mean he's BLACK.?"
"Gurl, don't you know it." He replies.  "A total petrolero."
"avanzando la raza"
I'm sitting in a community meeting for one of the more upscale neighborhoods in Miami.  The community activist is discussing the community. He is white.  As he discussing different areas of town he says: "well, there is nothing we can do for that area, it's what we call the uncivilized areas of (insert upscale neighborhood name here).  In my mind I know he's talking about the black and Hispanic area of that upscale neighborhood.
I'm at a neighborhood gathering in the same upscale neighborhood. This time an elected official states: "I know we're on the East Side because we are drinking and eating on glassware and not paper plates and cups."  In Miami, the East Side neighborhoods tend to be on or close to the waterfront, expensive and white and Hispanic.
I'm at a meeting for the improvement of Morningside Park.  A very old white lady states: "We need to close this city park (one of the oldest and loveliest in the city) and keep those "ethnics" out of our neighborhood."
"beautiful 3bed 2 bath in the uncivilized west side"
In the previous examples there was some strange commonality. In each case the groups were either liberal, gay or Democratic.  The affluent areas discussed are overwhelmingly diverse with no plurality of whites, Hispanics or Blacks.  So to hear no sense of hesitation when other groups are disparaged, called "uncivilized" is surprising. One thing is to joke among friends about somebody dating a black man. Fine, most of the guys at the table had at one time or another done it. Yet, to sit in a community meeting with a group of strangers and call a whole neighborhood "uncivilized" or trying to "keep those ethnics out" is ridiculous, sad and retrograde. Most of the people making these statements were of my generation or older.
In Miami it's been awhile since I've heard the coldness of white people racism. When it comes from old white folks there seems to be a sharpness to it I can't describe.  When Latinos speak about racism against blacks it's coached in humorous giggles but just as condescending. As someone who is half of one and half of the other, I find both offensive.  
I, like everyone, am guilty of racist thoughts and comments.   I even make them around black colleagues and friends. They are too polite to call me on it.  Gotta work on that too.....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

You Don't Look Like.....

One of the joys of aging in this modern society is that change is inevitable.  We age, our experiences change us and who you look at now, might not be the same person you met five years ago. In fact you might not look like the person people think you are.
"Can you pinch an inch?"
Let's just begin with our bodies, we get fat, we get thin, we grow muscles, we get flabby again. I sometimes do this in a week, depending on my mood.  Of course I really mean over time, so like my twenties were yo-yo between fat and thin, but I was definitely "soft" during those years. Thirties were muscles, now my forties I'm more "toned".   But whatever the case, comments like "you don't look like you weigh 200lbs." don't help. I do weigh 200lbs, I have since I was 30. I'm also a 32 inch waist...I was a 36 inch waist in High School.  Notice that I say "I am a 32 inch waist" not "I have a 32 inch waist". Because in America we are our waist size.
"You don't look like a diabetic." said the nurse, MD, technician. (translation: You are not fat.)
So when my diabetes got out of control (despite regular exercise and a decent diet) I got no sympathy. More than one nurse would say:  "You don't look like a diabetic", "You don't look like you weight 200lbs" "OMG, you're a 32 waist, I don't believe you." The last one was by a store clerk.....she was shocked when the 32 inch 501's made me look hot....bitch....I bought them just to spite her.   So NO, I don't look like a diabetic, I am not some pathetic FAT person.  However, because karma is a bitch she gave me a FAT person's disease.
"You don't look Honduran." said the lawyer.

"Tu eres tira flecha!" said the Cuban.
I was serving jury duty and during the void dire (jury selection), the question of whether anybody was Honduran came up. I proudly announced my heritage and birthplace. "But you don't look Honduran."  What, I don't look Mayan? Are all Latinos brown skinned people of indigenous descent? Miss Legally Blond, do you think less of me, why the surprised face and skepticism? Don't just put me in the "white juror" category because of my Anglo first and last name.  Hello, Latinos come in all colors, shapes and forms, even Honduran ones. As a matter of fact I ate a pupusa just last night.
"You don't look 45." say a lot of people younger than 45.
I guess in this youth directed culture that is a compliment. I will take it that way. Thanks to the cute 20something waiter that handed me his number the other night, in front of other 20 somethings.  However my youthful, non-botoxed appearance does not deny my experience as a man. I am a parent, I am a professional, I am one HOT DADDY.  I have lived and am not a "boy". 
Tom Ford, hot, mature and "a gay"
"You don't look like a gay" said the client.
Well I'm not sure the use of the article "a" before the word gay is proper usage....because I'm not sure if she had a particular gay in mind.  I mean if she meant Rupaul, no I don't look like "a gay" but if she meant Tom Ford, I'd want to be "a gay."  The fact is I am "a gay" in fact to my friends and family I'd like be THE GAY.  I'd have no problem if my name, like Rupaul's, would be synonymous with gays everywhere.  Things are not what they seem folks.....
"You'd better work....bitch"