Saturday, December 15, 2007

Smoking. And the Mason/Dixon Dynamics.

Oh. My. God. Becky.
Look at her (cigarette) butt. It. Is. So. Big.
It's like one of those (NASCAR fans) girlfriends.
You. Know.
It. Is. Just. So. Big. And. (Smelly).

OK. So why didn't anyone warn me that people smoke in clubs/bars in Baltimore? Um. Gross. I totally would have worn NASCAR flannel and 1994 Levis out last night. Or something like that. Something that could be thrown away. Because last night I got hit with a wall and funk of cigarette smoke that was like Johnny Cash's ring of fire.

Come on people. Didn't you get the memo? Smoking is bad. Subjecting others to smoke is bad. And not to mention what your clothes smell like when you leave. Ewwww. And not to mention that the service workers/bar staff who may or may not smoke get subjected to second-hand smoke whether they want to be exposed or not.

I feel like I picked up the beginnings of lung cancer last night. For real. This morning I coughed up... let's just leave it at last night's smoke.

OK. So the Mason/Dixon Dynamic.

I often tell friends that I can go weeks without interacting with someone who is white in L.A. So, when I get to a place, like say Baltimore where I am now, or Detroit, or anywhere else where the dynamic is white majority/people of color minority, it's weird. That's because L.A. is people of color majority. And even though even though my own ethnicity isn't the majority of that people of color dynamic, you feel a sort of collective bond with the whole POC thing.

Anyway, breakfast this morning. Middle age white woman is talking down... I mean talking DOWN to a black woman who is staffing the breakfast area. "I don't care that you close at 10 am, I want skim milk NOW." She's going on in a hissy-fit for a few minutes. I'm behind her in line.

I just go, "Is that really necessary?" The black staff members kinda grinned. I (we) know they wanted to go off, but they know their place... and their paycheck. So she rolled eyes and left without her skim milk. I don't know if I embarrassed her, or if she realized that her hissy-fit wasn't necessary, or if she realized that she was late, that she could read, and that she can follow the directive of the sign that says "We close down at 10 am."

I hate it when I see white people talking down to people of color service staff. But I hate it even more when I see people of color doing the SAME to people of color service staff. Maybe it's more a class thing than an ethnicity thing.

Because I think... that is someone's grandmother, mother, dad, aunt, uncle you're talking to. A generation ago (heck, this month) that was/is your own grandmother, mother, aunt, uncle. One of my grandmothers worked in someone's home AND worked in a store. And she wasn't working for other black people. So I always think of that when I interact with a service staff person. They have feeling and self-esteem and a life too that doesn't revolve around your skim milk or attitude.

There's never a need to talk down to people because you THINK you're somebody. There are no better than's or worse than's in my book. But that's just me. How I was raised.

I forgot about the whole color dynamic in places that are white majority/people of color minority. My sister, who travels a lot, and I talk about this a lot. Especially when we go to the South, where it seems that people are taught to "know their place." And they fall in line. I know there is a line, but I don't fall in it. Maybe L.A. has skewed my vision of how the rest of the country operates... though, if you go west of LaCienega or near the 405, you can often get the same dynamic of the South.

I'm rambling. I've had two cups of coffee and worked out already. But my mind's running a million miles a minute.


Joe Camel said...

Racism is dead in the south and everywhere else.
So nobody needs your self righteous preaching.

So your clothes stink and must be thrown away when they make contact with tobacco smoke?
Where were creeps like you twenty years ago when everybody smoked and nobody squawked? Answer: Apparently under a rock somewhere.

If you expect the rest of the country to embrace the fascist values of LaLa Land , don't hold your breath.

ReggieH said...

Great meeting you in Baltimore! Hope the rest of your travels are snow/ice free.

PS: The smoking ban goes into effect in Baltimore 1/1/08

WhozHe said...

I agree, the smell of smoke sickens me.

What I've noticed is how comfortable I feel in a majority white situation, but how uncomfortable whites feel in a majority black situation. (Heck, I sometimes feel uncomfortable surrounded by my own kind too.)