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White Chicks October 21, 2008

Posted by Toy Lady in Musings, Politics, random stuff, Rochester.

No, I don’t mean the movie. Which is, quite possibly, one of the worst movies I’ve ever tried to watch. 😯

(Someone recommended it to me as “funny.” I don’t know that person anymore.)

Anyway. I visited Pasta Queen‘s website, and she happened to be relating an incident where she was concerned that she may be a “racist.” Personally, I think if you’re worried about it, then you probably aren’t it. But that’s just me. I also think that the term has been so overused in recent months as to be almost meaningless.

But it brought to mind an incident from several years ago.

I’m a single mom of the young, somewhat precocious, not-yet-surly Surly Boy. He’s about, I don’t know, second grade age. 🙄

We’ve recently moved from the small town he where he was born – and by “small town” I’m talking population 1500 – max. We’re living in an apartment in the suburbs of the Big Bad City of Rochester.

Young Surly is a tiny little Cub Scout. He was so cute in his little uniform with his little badges! 😆

Anyway, it’s a lovely late spring evening, and it’s Scout Night at Silver Stadium, just a couple of years before the stadium was demolished.

Now I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Rochester area – I know I wasn’t at that time! Silver Stadium was located on Norton Street on the City’s north side. Not far from me, but certainly not close enough where I was actually familiar with the neighborhood.


Keep in mind, too, that this was a while back. Mapquest didn’t exist. Or if it did, I’d never heard of it. 😯 Yeah, I know, try to imagine a world without Google Maps, right?

So here I am, practically straight off the turnip truck, with Pre-Surly Boy, and we’ve managed to find our way to the seedy part of town for Scout Night. 🙄

Of course, by the time the game’s over, it’s starting to get dark. And I manage to take a wrong turn when leaving the stadium. 😳

(I’ve since learned to keep a street map in the car.)

So here I am, late spring/early summer evening. Young(ish) mom with small child. Alone in the car, and somewhat lost. Turned around, anyway.

The street signs are subtitled in Spanish.

This was not cool.

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. 😯

There are young Hispanic and black men wandering around. No, not wandering, milling. Walking in the streets, crossing against the lights, paying no attention to basic street-crossing rules. 😯

I’m driving very slowly, trying to avoid jay-walking punks while looking for something – anything – that looks remotely familiar. Before we get mugged, or car-jacked, or worse.

Uh, Little Surly, do me a favor and lock your car door and close the window.

Then it happened. Young Surly Boy, in that high-pitched, carrying voice that only small children can manage, said “Why, mommy? Why do you want to lock the doors?”

People stop. Look in our direction. He’s serious, and I’m nervous – sweating. After all, my window was closed!

But he was serious. He truly could not understand why I wanted to lock the doors and shut the windows, and he had no idea why I was nervous in that situation.

Reminder: I was a defenseless woman, responsible for a small child, who found myself lost in a neighborhood that, to my mind, was full of bored young men looking for amusement.

I did not want to provide that amusement. 😦

So what was the cause of my unease?

Was it because the bored young men had darker skin than my Scandinavian-English complexion?

Was it because I’d been warned to “be careful” when going to the stadium in the first place?

Or was it simply a matter of being a young mom alone with my cub in an unfamiliar neighborhood with no idea which way home was?

Unfortunately, society has conditioned us to assume that discomfort in this situation is a product of racism, and that it’s just wrong, and that we “white chicks” should feel guilty for feeing any sort of apprehension, but I honestly don’t think it’s that simple, and I think playing the race card is very much like crying wolf. Sooner or later, a very real problem becomes so diluted by false alarms that no one cares anymore.

And even worse, perfectly reasonable people, people who have every reason to be nervous, are bullied into ignoring their valid concerns and are led down a primrose path until, the next thing you know, they’re acting against their better judgment – and their own best interests.

Just something to think about, that’s all. 🙂

And, since WordPress has added a polling feature, I’d love to know what all two of our readers think.

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