SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2005        Personal Memory Ethnographies

Genaro V. Kirker

Reality Check

Way back in the year 2001 I had just moved to Phoenix, Arizona from Kansas City, Kansas hoping to transfer from a community college in Kansas to South Mountain Community College. However this transition was a little bit harder than I had expected. My expectations were to continue playing baseball, find a job and do well in school.  No problem, right? Wrong! Finding a job that would enable me to accomplish this was a nightmare. However, while attending Kansas City Community college it was to some degree more organized from a financial stand point, due to me receiving a scholarship there. Moreover, the baseball coach was also involved in getting ball players a job on campus which would make life much easier.  However when I showed up to South Mountain the only promise I received was a spot on the team. The job part was up to me, which I thought would be no big deal.

However, the problem I was facing was that this baseball team was responsible for fundraisers also, which would entail valuable time that would restrict me from other jobs. Furthermore, I was willing to do whatever it took to follow my dream of becoming a professional baseball player. So I began the horrible journey of looking for a job, a journey that sucks for anybody and sucks even more if you’re a Hispanic with brown skin or any other shade darker than white. More importantly, I never imagined that I would be grouped with Mexican immigrants when looking for a job. Well that’s exactly what took place on my nightmare journey to look for flexible jobs.

When I tried to apply for a waiter’s position I was either turned away or told to apply for a dishwashing job. All of the managers interviewing me were either gay white males who were biased against a non-gay male, or white males who seemed intimidated by an applicant of color. Whatever the case I found out real soon that in the Scottsdale area where I was living, I did not fit their stereotypical waiter mold. As all this was occurring I was beginning to wonder why in the hell did I leave a perfect situation in Kansas City besides the weather, which is why I came to Arizona in the first place and that’s another story. More importantly, I never imagined that racism and oppression were still taking place in the United States, much less in the year 2000.

This nonsense began to irritate me even more after one of my friends mentioned that his job at the Hyatt at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale was hiring pool servers. He told me that business was booming and that they were in dire need to hire help. When this suggestion came through I figured finally I might get to accomplish this crazy juggling act of baseball, school, fundraising and a job. I mentioned to my friend to tell his supervisor that I would be going in to apply for the job the next day, he said no problem. Well, my hopeful day came and I jumped on the 101 north to the promised land. When I arrived at the Hyatt Resort I walked to the pool area excited that this was going to be my place to work as well as to support myself and achieve my dream.

When I got to the pool I walked over to the bar area and asked one of bartenders to point me in the right direction to apply for a pool serving position. He told me to sit tight and he’d get the supervisor to come over, so I sat down thinking that I had this thing all wrapped up. A couple minutes later this white male manager walks over and says “how can I help you?” I then replied, “I’m here to apply for a pool serving position that my friend had mentioned you had openings for.” Just as I was beginning to mention the name of my friend, he interrupted to say that they were not hiring pool servers; however they had several openings in the landscaping department as well as the kitchen departments. He immediately pointed towards the area where they do the hiring for these positions, because he noticed I did not say one thing. I just gave him this look like, you got to be kidding me.

Had this situation lasted a few seconds longer I might have reacted quite differently. However this totally caught me off guard. I could not believe that the manager had so automatically grouped me with Mexican immigrants even though I spoke fluent English, not to mention my family has lived in New Mexico for generations. It just blew me away. He then just walked away, all in less than one minute--luckily for both of our sakes.

Most of all, I learned a great deal from this experience. I learned that I must concentrate on getting an education. I feel I will have a much better chance of accomplishing my goals with an education, as opposed to taking the risk of following a baseball career, which has for the most part been unpredictable due to me facing three injuries that set me back not only emotionally, but academically as well. I have also chosen to focus my attention on obtaining an education with hopes of minimizing my encounters with uneducated white males who are stuck on the idea of whiteness equaling superiority based solely on skin color. I also know that if I did follow a baseball career and the possibility of getting injured came about, I would hate to endure the uncertainty of not having an education to fall back on. Some people are fortunate to obtain both an education and a baseball career in college if they have the right set-up, like having housing and other resources that parents could provide. Unfortunately I had to choose one or the other, due to my parents living out of state as well as having to help two other siblings. Moreover I decided to take the sure route and concentrate my efforts on obtaining a college education, which is okay by me. The pursuit of becoming a professional baseball player was going to be a roller coaster ride that I just did not have the motivation to endure anymore. I like to think of it as simply knowing my strengths and weaknesses.

In closing, if for any reason you are in a situation where you are being treated unfairly due to any one of the ism’s be sure to bite right back because uneducated or educated, racists do not know any other form of reasoning. Moreover as the old saying goes “fight fire with fire”, you feel me. Best wishes to all!

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