Always strikes me as funny to refer to anything in this land-locked Midwestern state as a “beach,” but that’s what the locals call their riverside recreational area. Nice spot actually. It’s where my best guyfriend likes to go to lay out and catch some rays, so I accompanied him yesterday as I occasionally do.
Loads of families were there, as to be expected. Several couples also. What was interesting to me was the diversity of the crowd. Considering this “flyover state” is known for being white bread, most probably wouldn’t expect to see such a wide spectrum of colors and ethnicities all intermingled. Likely not the case outside of this metro and in the more rural areas, but here we all are in the big city.
A large group of Africans were there, playing in the water off at the end. All seemed pretty friendly. Watched them interact while we were wading in up to our thighs, taking a break to cool off. They have a dramatically emotional flair to them, which I find interesting as a highly emotional person myself. And not a one of them seemed concerned about getting their hair wet, that being a stereotype associated particularly with black women. But these were people of direct African descent, not our stereotypical black Americans.
Speaking of which, farther down the beach I noticed a good-looking black female with a good-looking Asian male. She too didn’t seem concerned about getting her hair wet, which leads me to assume that must’ve been her natural hair. Was very pretty.
A group of Hispanic people were out there too, though I only saw their kids get in the water while the adults remained clothed and chatted amongst themselves near the periphery of the “beach.”
Nearer to our blankets were a black American couple, both middle-aged and very attractive. He was reading a book in his chair while she got in the water. She too had her own natural hair and had no hesitation about swimming or getting sand in it. I like to see people’s natural hair rather than the “hair hats” that Tommy Sotomayor makes such a big deal about. He’s right — weaves have a lot of downsides and not enough upsides to make them worth it. Not being free to swim or even scratch one’s scalp sounds incredibly unappealing.
I bring this up because once it grew time for us to leave about 6:30pm, the parking lot was filling up with black Americans who had arrived. And to be honest, I was glad we were leaving by that point. The weave-wearers had shown up, along with sporting the attitudes many of us have to come to expect from them. Some might say it’s racist to simply state it like that, but I don’t care. The word racist has been played out and rendered meaningless anyway. My main point is that there was a distinct difference between the black folks (mostly African but also a handful of black Americans) who were there in the afternoon versus the black Americans showing up as evening approached. You could see it in their body language immediately.
Each day I ponder on the direction society is headed in, and while I acknowledge that racial identities can be complex and that plenty shouldn’t be judged in accordance with a stereotypical mold, I observe those who epitomize such stereotypes as well. Am not color-blind and won’t pretend to be so. Stupid to expect that from people. We all do notice, whether we’re willing to admit it.
Laying there roasting in the sun, I got to thinking about the Africans I’ve known and how many of them openly disdain our American blacks. Don’t see themselves as belonging to the same in-group at all. They don’t wish to be lumped into that shared category because they see themselves (and their varied nations of origin) as being distinct culturally and unaligned with the American Black narrative. They get frustrated by them. So they opt to self-segregate away from our black Americans. Interesting. I wonder if they too left when the weave-wearers showed up. Perhaps. And would anyone accuse them of racism for doing so? lol
Nothing wrong with avoiding unnecessary drama.
A part of me feels a bit bad for the (stereotypical) black American currently seeing as how so many of them appear to be ruled by an inferiority complex that leads them to behave and act out in ways that only further confirms the stereotype in the minds of others, resulting in increasing social tensions. It’s set up a conundrum that can’t easily be remedied at this point in history. The past can’t be allowed to fade away since so many feel deeply invested in it, yet ruminating over the past is proving to be bondage in a new way as it’s carried forth into the future. While I can understand the habit of lamenting the past, there’s no way forward if you look out upon all others as racists unceasingly aiming to hold you back. And others don’t care for being viewed that way either, hence why we might walk away. But we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. If we leave you to it, we’re racist. If we stay and stand our ground, we’re racist. If we tell you what you want to hear, we’re racist. If we speak openly and plainly without putting your feelings first, we’re racist. Surely if we just sit there mute we’re probably still regarded as racist.
People tire of that shit. It’s exhausting to deal with. Feels like mental loops and traps. A rigged game. No longer about individuals interacting but instead an obstacle course where if the right things aren’t said or the right demeanor isn’t displayed, we’re going to be called out, nevermind what’s actually going on in our minds or how much we aimed to not offend. I can’t stand for my motivations to be assumed based on some ridiculous narrative. If you want to know why I say what I say or do what I do, just ask me. Pretty good about speaking straight. Yet this is what we constantly hear these days, these assumptions that everybody out here is motivated by racism. Couldn’t possibly be that we just wish to avoid unnecessary drama that we’ve come to associate with certain types of people. Often it isn’t based on race solely, as demonstrated by people’s openness toward the Africans.
In short, it’s not skin color alone that is the focal point– it’s the attitudes and actions that stereotypically accompany them across however many persons. Yes, white folks can be assholes too, and nobody would claim otherwise. Since some wish to ascribe motivations to those of other races, I’ll feel free to do the same in pointing out what appears to be an inferiority complex among too many black Americans. Inferiority/superiority complex since it swings to wild extremes, even within the same individual. On one hand loudly protesting assimilating into the wider “white-dominated” culture and its laws, while simultaneously wailing about people avoiding them and/or not including them. But when you show up to say that we’re all a bunch of shits who inherently look down upon you, yes, you become a bummer to be around. And when you act as if your feelings should matter more than all else, you’re setting up a one-sided situation where either people won’t be honest with you or, if they are, will only offend you. Which then can turn nasty in an instant.
You tell me who’s got time for that?
We just wanted to enjoy a relaxing day at the “beach” among others doing the same, sans dealing with bullshit and loud attitude problems. The Africans were all cool. The interracial couple were cool. The middle-aged black American couple were cool. All the various shades of “white” folks lying on their towels or playing with their kids were cool. And then…who showed up and brought tension?
It’s not racist to state it plain. If people wish to be perceived differently in the eyes of others, it’s on them to make some changes. But I know too well how hardheaded humans tend to be, particularly those who pander to a grievance industry, so I assume tensions will just keep escalating until greater problems arise. Don’t wish to see that unfold, but how can it be prevented when people don’t wish to take personal responsibility or to compromise? Concessions have already been made, and many of them. The ball is in the other court — can we upgrade this game finally or should we just keep allowing our society to grow divided and hostile?