Friday, January 11, 2019

My Two Most Racially Confusing Moments

1. The Halal Food Cart

On Christmas Day, I found myself downtown around the 9/11 memorial. Due to the holiday, the area was pretty empty. I hadn't been down there much, and found the commercialization disgusting, but c'est la free market. And right at the very edge of the WTC site was a halal food cart just ***BLASTING*** Arabic music at full wedding volume.

My thought cascade played out more or less as follows:
Oh, man, somebody's going to, like, kill these guys.

They've clearly been doing this for a while, and they seem perfectly ok; even swagger-ish. Phew!

Is this a Christmas-only indulgence?

Am I actually feeling a little offended?

What's the difference between my being offended by this and all the assholes who were offended by a Mosque being built downtown?

Well, it's clearly insensitive.

When do I ever cluck my tongue over insensitivity? I'd be a hypocrite to pick/choose!

I'd like to talk to those guys and see where they're coming from.

No, they don't look like they want to be talked to. They're real swaggery.

But it's more of a New York swagger than a Middle-Eastern swagger. In fact, this is pure New York: swaggering immigrant food vendors blasting music (actually quite good) that's absolutely a part of the city's patchwork heritage.

Carry on!
2. Tokyo Watermelon

I traveled to Tokyo with an all-black big band for a week of gigs. The promoter who'd made the arrangements held a reception for us upon arrival, featuring a large presentation of cut-up watermelon. I was the only one who understood he'd paid $100 per for those babies.

Was it a tremendous honor? Or a grievous stereotype?

My colleagues, oblivious to the expense and too hungry and jet-lagged to parse any stereotype, happily ravaged the damned watermelon like crazed locusts.

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