Wednesday, October 16, 2013

people are weird

When my friend Lauren came to visit, she made an effort to try and locate other black people in the landscape.  During the four days that she stayed with us, we located six black people, two of whom made contact with her.  It's not like I seek out other white people, though I do take note when I hear other American accents in a crowd, but there is a difference between being a minority and an extreme minority.  She doesn't try to make friends with every other black person back in the US but since she moved to Japan, I guess she started feeling very isolated and wanted to find similar looking people. Here in Hong Kong I have five black friends that I see on a fairly regular basis.  Now I wonder if they share Lauren's sentiments.  Maybe I should ask them if they know each other.

When Lauren and I went to Macau, things got weird.  In Hong Kong, she was unusual but I doubt that she was the first black person that anyone had seen.  There is an African community here after all, and it is a cosmopolitan city.  But in Macau she apparently went from an extreme minority to exceptional. When we walked into the Venetian, a group of people who were dressed like Mainland tourists literally stopped in their tracks and gaped at her with their mouths open.

Now, I remember being nine years old and seeing a set of albino, Chinese twins at the playground. That was a rare sight, but did I stop in my tracks and gape?  No, I did not.  I definitely did a double take but even at nine I knew how not to be rude. As nonchalantly as a nine year old who is attempting to be nonchalant can be, I strolled past them on the swings and climbed up the jungle gym, where I could discreetly inspect them from a distance while hiding behind a tire. After a few minutes I discovered that spying on kids on the swings was boring so I lost interest and went on my way.

So, back to the tourists in the casino.  This gaping with open mouths happened several times.  We even had to walk around a couple of morons who had stopped in our paths and were staring.  I gave them the most potent of my stink eyes but it didn't seem to have much of an effect. At least on the adults; I did manage to get a teenage girl to flinch. If I had it all to do over again, I would have jumped at them while yelling, "boo!"

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