It’s not because he’s black that I didn’t respond to his “how you dooin” (as he licked his lips, softened his eyes, and dropped his shoulder).
The scene: Standing in the candy aisle at Walgreens on my 15. Snacking on the about-to-purchase bag of Skittles (as I eye the other flavors and theatre box deals) the loud-speakers muffles out: “Security. Security Zone 70. Zone 70. Security Zone 70.” They’ve done away with pointing fingers by stating the aisle number. Was I in zone 70? was it my Skittles? Was it my big coat and dangerous boots? Within seconds of the security call I caught a young boy passing down the end of the aisle wording to himself: “yeah that’s right, get your security on me because I’m black. Call security because a black person is probably stealing something.” At that point indifference punched me in the face like a chemical combustion of thoughts — the anger (why announce security, just walk over and check the situation!) the pity (boy, why do you feel discriminated against!) the curiosity (did he snatch something?) the reality (omg it was probably deodorant or toothpaste, let the boy clean himself, Walgreens, you big corporate Sleaze Daddy!) the shame (and what am I doing about any of it, selecting my favorite flavors and proceeding to checkout) the other reality (shit, I’m late for my meeting, dammit I didn’t call AT&T, omg this boot is killing my pinkie toe, podiatrist!!!!).
Exit Walgreens. Standing on the street corner awaiting orange hand to turn white man. black boy from Walgreens adjacent at the bus stop. He catches my attention with a youthful, forward and distrubingly direct:
bb: “how you doooin’?”
ag: yes? (eyes roll, reach for phone and give a scrunched nose smile.)
bb: (immediately feeling rejected and ashamed) “What just because I’m black and you sum white girl, you can’t say hi?!”
ag: If you want to chat about the weather because you’re lonely, want to ask where I bought my coat because you have all the time on your hands or because it reminds you of your curtains, or if you need an ear to vent for a sec…you got it, I’m here til that light turns green. Dropping a street corner “how you doooing” line, not grounds for conversation. Maybe try “hello, how are you” — ever thought about, “Hey, how’s it going?
(white man appears in black box.)
is there really a better way to say the same thing? Isn’t the “hey, how are you?” just a more polite way of saying, “I’m hitting on you?” most of the time? really. Maybe Walgreens boy was just more honest with his “how you doooin?”