With 5 minutes until closing time, a customer walks up to me and says:
“Hi, I know you must be wanting to get out of here, so I’ll be quick. I was just curious…um…what are you?”
What do you mean?
“Are you black?”
“Oh. What are you?”
I’m Puerto Rican.
*laughs* “Oh, cuz I was gonna ask you how I could get hair like yours but I’m not Puerto Rican. I’m Black.”
“And um..is the Nook Tablet like the IPad..but like…cheaper?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
Here are a few tidbits that will enlighten you as to why this interaction annoys the ever-living-piss out of me. This customer sat in the cafe area for a good hour, doing nothing. This customer was bald. This customer was a male. How the hell are you inquiring about my hair, boo? How did you assume you could get hair like mine? Maybe you dress up, so you assume I bought it?
I’m a Puerto Rican female. I’m just a female. I don’t ask people what they are, racially…to be quite honest – I don’t ask because I don’t give a shit. I don’t search for a specific race to date because I have some fetish. I don’t hang out with a specific race because I feel “accepted.” I interact with people. Not their race.
Not everything darker than white is black. Not everything that is spanish is mexican. For 11 years, I’ve answered this question a million times. It comes with the territory…or so I assume. It’s even funnier to me when people act shocked…or as if I’m lying. If I was black – I would be proud to be black. If I was mexican – I would be proud to be mexican. But I am none of those things. I am proud to be a woman who does not fixate on race. I am proud to live outside of stereotypes and labels. I am proud of the beauty of my internal being versus the shell you stare at.
On a side note – I’m actually excited about a children’s series concept that I discussed with an artist friend tonight. Don’t know where the idea will go…but I’m grateful I’m still having ideas. Means I’m still alive.