So here I come to part two of the message that I began posting yesterday. This time, I want to delve into one aspect of why black women might feel a little hostile, betrayed or let down or what have you, when they see a great black guy with a white woman.
Maybe they’re tired of being savaged, blatantly and publicly, by men of all stripes, and having a black guy fail to put one of us on a pedestal rubs it in a little. Case in point: on the same day that I went snooping into Harold Ford, Jr.’s life, a black woman and an Asian man got into a bitter, hostile argument during my commute to work. I didn’t see what triggered the heated exchange in the first place, but based on how the black woman recounted the initial run-in while upbraiding this guy, he shoved her while making his way to one section of the train car.
Now, pushing and shoving are a way of life on the New York area rail lines, as well as the buses and sidewalks. This guy, however, didn’t even have the decency to excuse himself politely or quietly. He proceeded to mouth off to her about how she should shut up and get over it. Well, she wasn’t going to do that, and round one began. She fruitlessly pointed out that he was too rough, too rude and that it wasn’t right. He didn’t defend his actions, simply told her to shut up and started throwing profanities at her. This exchange dragged on until he moved away from her, still mouthing off and he said in his heavy Cantonese or Mandarin (I haven’t fine-tuned my Chinese accents yet) that people like her was what was wrong with America. Several times he said this, emphatically, too, before he added ‘ni—-‘ to the end of that statement. And then he spat on the floor in her direction. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that pipsqueak parading as a man shoved a woman, and then picked a fight with her and spat racial epithets at her. On a train. Surrounded by other black people. In the New York area. In 2008!
Where do I begin? I want to first say that I took out my cell phone to call the police, because this guy needed to be confronted with someone bigger than him, in uniform. Someone else went over to the woman and tried to get her to calm down and forget about this ass. When the train reached its final stop, I looked around for a cop, but couldn’t find one. The woman was out of the train and on the platform, surrounded by other passengers, who told her she handled herself well despite the circumstances. Everyone scattered, and the woman seemed intent on just getting to work, not filing a complaint. Still, I decided to call the transit agency to ask what to do in a situation like that.
Look, I understand that rush hour can be really stressful, and we’re in the first half of summer here, but I’m starting to develop some uncomfortable ideas about how men treat black women. Also, I find myself having to FIGHT the notion that immigrant Asian men, have a special talent for being racist, misogynistic idiots. I mean, where did this man get the idea that he could behave that way toward any human being, much less a woman? Believe me, this is not a comfortable conclusion to reach, that in some parts of the world life is so brutal and tribal that when some of those immigrants come here, they look around at the rest of us with disdain in their eyes and venom at the tips of their tongue. But when you pull back and look at all the chaos in the world, I suppose you have to confront that nasty reality.
About Asian guys. I’m STILL more than willing to give individual Asian men (which includes East Indian and the like) the full benefit of the doubt wherever and however I meet them. I share communion with Asian Christians at church. I meet them on the job and in social situations. I’ve met too many nice Asian men and women to give into any blanket racist attitudes about them all. I can’t help but try to talk to them as individuals and treat them the way they treat me. On an individual level, I’ve had very few problems.
Yet the behavior I see on the trains is appalling. Asian men are THE LAST ones to yield their seat to a pregnant or old woman or to someone who is infirm. I’ve stood in front of rows of guys, sometimes of differing backgrounds on a packed train, and if I do get a seat, it’s usually a white man, followed by a brother, who stands up. Not the Asian dudes. Somehow, they overlook my belly or the fact that I might be shifting from one leg to the other uncomfortably, and they go right on texting, scrolling through their iPods, reading or napping.
Yet I’ve seen attractive blondes get seats, when these guys do get up. Who knows why, but it’s amusing!
I think that on most occasions, men follow the traditional pecking order for respecting women in public: be nicest to the women you want to sleep with. In America, that means young blondes, followed by a host of other types of women. Unfortunately, black women are treated like they are invisible, for the purposes of public courtesy, or in the case of that idiot, singled out for savage treatment. I have NEVER seen a white, Hispanic or Asian woman treated like that black woman was.
With such a blatant lack of respect from men in other cultures, it’s kind of easy to see how black women might be hurt by one of the nice black guys having someone on his arm who is not one of us. Hopefully, this is just a bad year for commuting, and this kind of behavior will be over soon enough.
Meanwhile, maybe black women can take solace in the fact that often enough, guys will behave in a civil way in public and that plenty of successful black men have secured a wife who is more than a Bergdorf blonde and status symbol. As a matter of fact, here is a brief roll call: Forest Whitaker, New York Governor David Paterson and Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty.