Why does education and race have to come into the conversation? Well, because there’s usually a very good reason for a stereotype. But being upset about the situation and merely perpetuating and allowing the stereotype to continue serves no one. Acknowledging where things truly stand, and then doing something to improve the education that perpetuates the stereotype, however… Now, that would serve us all, and very, very well.
I am the epitome of sliced white bread, as I enter campus. I have on my dance top and shorts and my hipster tie-dye Oakley sunglasses. I am eating a Trader Joe’s snack bar and holding a large bottle of cold Trader Joe’s electrolyte water, and am walking with a cool green backpack on my back, and my dirty blonde hair in a messy bun on top of my head.
Two black guys are walking towards me. The larger of the two, a very large and very dark guy, asks me how I’m doing and what I do here. I tell him that I go to school. He asks if I do any sports or anything, because I look like I do long-distance running; I look very thin and fit. I say that I did. He says that ‘you see there, I was right – you look like it’. I notice that I’m also wearing running shoes – the ones I used to wear for all my walking and bike riding at my Japan job – and that I haven’t just been doing exercise, despite my complete outfit for it. He hands me a flyer while saying that they hope I can join them on the 20th, and then I continue onward. Based on the flyer, it looks like some sort of DJ dance party with stereotypical black advertising and expected attendees. Not that I’m opposed to the party, but I’m not exactly the target audience of the flyer, making it surprising that this guy would have stopped to invite me…I mean, did he see me? Again, not opposed to it. I’m in full support of it. I’m just a little surprised by it. However, I recall that this is a college campus, so they’re probably inviting just about any girl they can find (who doesn’t look like a total nerd, that is), and my surprise lessens significantly.
After a few hundred yards of walking onward, I see what I originally think is a dead snake on the ground. As I approach it, I see that it is a strand of weave, of false hair. A gurgling chuckle rises within me. This is definitely not my typical territory, and I feel as though my thoughts of being stereotypical white bread have just been proven by my surroundings of very much black culture – not to mention the fact that almost everyone I can see is black to some degree – showing up in stark contrast to me.
And then I remember that I also am wearing a drape-y scarf, despite the fact that it is still technically summertime. I’m even more white bread than I had thought.