Friday, 12 June 2015
My American Adventure: unexpected hostility
It's taken me a week to finish my post about my first experience in Jamaica Queens last Friday because I've been trying to think carefully about how I will write what I am about to say. It might be controversial to some people.
Before I get into that I'd like to say the area is very much like what I experienced in Harlem. The streets are lively with mostly reggae or old skool R&B music playing. I could smell Caribbean food everywhere, as like there was a neighbourhood barbeque or cookout. It smelt so good. They have a lot clothes shops that sell urban clothing which I definitely will re visit because I saw some very unique and interesting buys to add to my wardrobe. The streets are very busy. I do like the area because of the diverse food and clothing stores they have.
However, as a young black woman I have felt prejudice by my own race. I've always heard that the United States is a racist country (no thanks to the Klu Klax Klan and other negative historic situations such as slavery) and how black people or (African Americans as they are called, which by the way I don't like that phrase) are constantly treated unfairly by white people. We see in the media, hear it in the hip hop songs but in all honesty the only hostility I've encountered so far is from fellow black people.
The white Americans I've met in the cafes, shops, restaurant and on the street, have been more kind and friendly to me then my own race. Bearing in mind that I've only been here for 2 weeks, I'm not referring to all black people, just the majority of the ones I have come into contact with since I have been here.
I've been in different neighbourhoods and experienced this both in the suburbs and in the "hood".
Here in Carle Place where I am currently staying, only 1.4% of the 4,000 plus population is black. I've seen 2 black families in the area and when I went to greet one of the ladies, sje just gave me a horrible look as if she had eaten a really sour lemon and turned her head away from me. The other one just looked blank in my face when I smiled at them . I was really shocked because being in a quiet suburban area, I would have thought a black person would be happy seeing another black person in the neighbourhood and not in the "hood".
I've experienced the same hostility in Manhattan, Harlem and Queens from the bus driver and the cashier at the store or restaurant to the passer by on the street when asking for directions.
I really don't understand this because I see that a lot of black people are very quick to pull out the race card when they feel like that have been hard done by or facing an injustice, but they can't even show any respect, goodwill or courtesy towards their own race.
I thought it was all in my head but after speaking with other people about it since I've been here, they too face the same issue, especially when they are dressed smart and go into a neighbourhood which is predominantly people of their background.
A few things come to mind when thinking about this, such as, insecurity, jealousy, fear and inferiority. I'm still trying to understand why black people behave this way when we should be supporting each other and rooting for one another to make it big.