2009-08-13

Have I Trained Myself To Realize I'm The "Other"

I think I have told this story before, but my husband took me to a restaurant I wanted to try. It was a nice stereotypical southern restaurant with nice fried, southern food. This was before my foray into vegetarianism. I had fried chicken, it was good, I'm not ashamed I ate it. There thankfully was no watermelon, as I would have eaten that too.

My husband was uncomfortable in this restaurant. He kind of looked around and he referred to the restaurant as the "restaurant time forgot" due to the dated decor. He also noticed I was the only black person in this restaurant. I was literally the only person of color in this restaurant, the waitstaff, the cooks I could see, and all the patrons were white. I kind of shrugged it off, but he kept asking me wasn't I uncomfortable in this old southern restaurant full of white people? I kept shrugging no. I was used to being the "only one", that was the norm in my life. I will say I am not uncomfortable around groups of black people, but I do or did notice when I am around all black people because it is a change of pace or scenery for me. My husband also notices when he is around nothing but black people, but seems to have no discomfort in the fact, but he does say back in his FUBU wearing, borderline deuce days, he was constantly joked or teased about being white, or his whiteness was discussed a great deal by his black friends with him.

It has me questioning, did my upbringing have me view myself or black as the "other" or "abnormal" and white as "normal" the "expectation"? I think about how mainstream media typically focuses on whiteness. Magazines, television, even MTV (during the 1980s) showed mostly white people. Even the black shows I watched had at least one or two white people on them. When you did see black people outside the "Cosby Show", they were poor and struggling, spoke in "jive" (the precursor to ebonics), and were on the news for committing crime.

So I can see how whites can see blacks as "other",especially if their only access to black people is on television, but why do I see myself or "black" as other? Have I been brainwashed by the media or my upbringing? Is it self hatred?