Representing The Race


I just want you all to know, that I stayed at work late to get you a blog. It’s not the continuation of the survey (no time to compile all the quotes. I’ll get to it later). But this (more Joyce) is what’s on my mind for today:

I went to brunch at my favorite out-of-the-way BK spot yesterday. The cook/owner makes French toast that tastes like cake. I don’t know how he makes it, but I LOVE IT! The problem is, so does half of Brooklyn. Everyone and their mother has figured out where my favorite spot is. So we (me, Aim, Patent) get there after church, only to discover that it’s packed. Not surprising since it only holds 25 people. Usually we’d just wait outside because we have no problem waiting for good food. But it’s freezing!!! (One hour later, we will be sitting inside and I will look out the window to observe, "it looks like we're sitting in a snow globe.")

So we walk down the block to the nearest coffeeshop. We’re in the middle of what used to be the hood but is now completely gentrified. The coffesshop is foo-foo chi-chi. We sit at the counter and watch a man further down eat lettuce like it’s steak. He's really enjoying the lettuce. Not salad—because salad has more than lettuce. It has croutons, dressing, tomatoes, ish like that. No, this guy is just eating large pieces of lettuce. He offers some to the lady he is with. She enjoys just lettuce too. My boy and I laugh at them because... well, because it's fucking bizarre.

The waitress comes over. Everyone else gets some form of tea. I get hot chocolate, which she mentions is bittersweet. Fine, I’ll just add sugar, I respond. Five minutes later, she brings their tea in teacups; she brings my hot chocolate in a gigantic bowl.

I look at the bowl. We all look at the bowl. It’s cold and there is a lot of warm liquid to be savored in front of me. I picture myself lifting the bowl with both hands, bringing it to my face to slurp the hot chocolate... in public. I shake my head.

“I can’t do it,” I blurt. “On behalf of the race. I can not do it.” I call for the waitress and ask for a cup.

She takes the bowl, returns with a cup that holds half the amount of what was in the bowl. My girl notes aloud the same observation I have just made. I weigh the amount of liquid in front of me in a cup versus the embarrassment I would cause the race by slurping from a bowl in public, in my Sunday best no less. I will gladly pay the same price for half the amount if I can preserve the dignity of the race in this restaurant. One small stand for a Black girl in Brooklyn; one small step forward for The Race.

I do not eat watermelon in public unless it has been cut into squares. I do not eat fried chicken ever, but ten years ago when I did, I didn’t do that in public either. (Just picture me with that wild ‘fro I used to have eating watermelon or chicken.) I will not embarrass the race. It is one thing to embarrass yourself, it is another to embarrass The Race.

This is the undercurrent of what it means to be black and “aware,” You can’t always enjoy life’s simple, sillier pleasures because you are always thinking about The Race and your Blackness. How it appears to others, how what you do represents 10 million other people. It’s hard to just be and be comfortable when you’re walking in such big shoes.

PS-- I'll try to post more often. But be forewarned, it's gonna be random. That's just the mood I am in.