a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

The N-Word on the Fourth of July

Posted on: July 5, 2013

With all of the Paula Dean crap, it’s pretty safe to say that we don’t, as some would like to believe, live in a post-racist society. As a woman of color, I’ve always known this fact to be true. When working in various retail stores in Manhattan, most of the suspected shoplifters we’d monitor were black women, most of the suspicious activities of Hispanic women would be watched. A return from a black woman would be questioned more thoroughly than the return of a white woman.

As my clothes have been downgraded from high-priced fashions that say that I belong in pricey stores to the thrifted threads I know wear I do notice that the security guards and sales people watch me a little bit more. While these realities are infuriating, I’m still quite blessed to have not heard anyone call me the N-Word, but it doesn’t make personal accounts like this any less hurtful.

Standing just ahead of me to board was a handsome, traditional nuclear family. The mom was tall and striking and she had two beautiful boys roughly around the ages of 10 and 7. For some reason, they became the intent subjects of my usual people-watching, as I boarded the flight. The mother was gently nagging the older boy about doing his summer reading and making sure his exercises were accessible on the flight.

As we boarded, I noticed that this mom and I would be sitting in the same row, I in the window seat, she in the center. As we sat awaiting takeoff, I finished a text conversation and signaled to the flight attendant for a seat-belt extender, a fat passenger’s best friend. Then just as the call came to shut our phones off, I glanced over at her, and she was still texting, rapidly. I caught a few words of the end of her text that made me look more intently: “on the plane, sitting thigh to thigh with a big fat nigger. Lucky me.”

My breath caught in my chest.

Read the rest of the story on Salon.

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