I worked a little late tonight. My friend and coworker dropped me off at the subway. Before I got out the car we had a discussion on race relations, police brutality, the black lives matter movement and politics.
He is white. I am not.
The only thing missing from our hot button issues was religion. We covered taboo subjects which send most people into a long drawn out ridiculous argument with an approach that neither of us had the answer and both of us had opinions and an understanding that our life experiences would play a role in which way we lean.
What we concluded was a general consensus that the core issues facing America stem from stereotyping, fear, environment and economic disparities.
Getting out his car with a “see you tomorrow; have a great night!” I walked to the ticket booth thinking how much I always enjoy our conversations because we gel even though we come from “two different worlds.”
As I stood in line behind a Cambodian family, I marveled at how easily world issues would be if only we could openly and honestly dialog. In the midst of my smile I noticed the family in front of me was having difficulty with the Septa attendant.
The English speaking son dropped his token and dollar into the appropriate slots, grabbed his transfer and waited for what looked like his girlfriend and mother in law to be.
The two women were new to subway etiquette. They put all the money in the appropriate slots and the attendant (like seriously knowing ) they needed transfers, waited for a beat.
“What?” She snarled.
The Cambodian women, not knowing much English, evident in the elder woman’s response of “Two.”
“Two what?” the Septa clerk snarled.
I’m thinking “Two giraffes you phucking azzknucle. You know good and gat dang well what they need.”
“Two” the Cambodian woman repeats while her daughter smiles.
The Septa worker holds up two transfers. Curls her upper lip and says, in the most demeaning voice possible “These?”
The Cambodian woman smiles and nods excessively.
“Then say transfer sh*t you in Merica now!”
The elderly woman smiles, having missed the condensation from the Septa worker with a scepter up her butt; takes the transfers and moves happily through the turnstile.
I drop my token into the slot, put both hand on the window and say “one transfer please” like Elaine in Seinfeld “one mulligatawny soup” The sarcasm is wasted on her.
She laughed like we shared an inside joke. A joke on foreigners, or the terrible influx of immigrants.
I pushed my way through the turnstile and watched the man routinely walk down the steps with his sister/girlfriend; a second nature stroll; but the “mom” she sashayed down the steps in an almost slow dance. Her hips swayed left and right in drunken splendor.
I recognized the joy of freedom. This woman was dressed in clothes she’s never worn before; adorned by her children.
She’s never ridden the subway or felt the beauty of a city scape. She descended the stairs in a triumphant rebellion. And I was ashamed of the Black woman, once denied the same joy having the audacity to look down on this immigrant woman experiencing freedom in a way she had never felt before.
How dare you immigrant black woman deny that experience to any woman. How dare you.
How quickly the fox becomes the hound.