SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2014       Personal Memory Ethnographies

Nicholas Hall

Good To Be Home

            Crazy how shit occurs, not just what I'm going to speak about but the significant moments that have happened in our lives that we thought would only happen to others. Dating outside my race has been a thing of mine since Mary-Kate Ashley Olsen's came on my TV in the movie “How The West Was Fun”. I was about 15 the first time I was involved in a situation where the race and who I was dating was seen as an issue. Around the same time I was involved with my first gang related interaction, Mayor Villaraigosa was convincing Los Angeles that he could clean up the streets and control the gangs.

           My first incident took place in South Central, California, mid day. There is a park on one side and houses across the way on this 2 way street. Fred Roberts park wasn’t a place a parent would want any child of theirs to go no matter the age. Six years before this incident, someone was shot while I was at this park with my neighbors playing in the sand box. At that time I was about 7 or 9 years old. Back to my incident, which was only a few blocks from my house. I was with my girlfriend Vanessa, her cousin Claudia, and my brother Shane. We were walking the girls home after a kick back, not too late. We hadn't done anything gang related and didn’t have on any type of gang affiliated wear. 

           VANESSA: I actually begged Nick not to walk me home just because I knew how rough some of the gang bangers were in the neighborhood especially towards blacks. Not trying to be Mr.tough guy Nick still came with me and so he had his brother Shane walk with us. Since that day Shane hasnt been much of a fan of my neighborhood. I went along with it although in my mind I was on edge and very paranoid. It's crazy but when I think back I held Nick's hand the whole time and squeezed it the whole time we were in this intense predicament. 

           NICK: So this small minded Latino “gang member”, made his way across the street to talk to me, a 15/16 year old kid in all white air max, blue dickies, Boo-Boo The Bear socks and white shirt I designed with Yogi and Boo-Boo on it. “Ay foo this is 38th street, do you bang” he said it three times before I turned to him to give him the attention he wanted. Standing in front of my girlfriend. I said “I don’t bang and that’s coo”. My brother and I continued to walk the girls home as the kid yelled out his “hood name” and 38th Street.  

           VANESSA: Also just as we were walking away and the guy continued to talk shit, my cousin Claudia likes to let it be known she knows an O.G. someone who is higher ranked than him, you could say. It was obvious that this kid not much older than Nick didn't like the idea of a Latin girl dating a black guy. 

           By the time I was 20, dating anyone outside my race had become the norm or so I thought. Little did I know that such practice was acceptable mainly in California. Just being here in Arizona for about a year and some change now, interracial couples are not something I see a lot. In this day and age a mixed couple should be just as acceptable as a same sex couple, if not more so. I have nothing against same sex couples but seeing how people stare or react strange to an interracial couple leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Sometime during the last Fall semester I and my girlfriend, who is Mexican, were at a restaurant in Scottsdale, getting escorted to our seats. We both saw and felt the eyes of other diners watching us together, as if we we're wearing our clothes inside out. It didn't end there. 

           ADRIANNA: Nothing like this should ever happen for any race when they are in a predominately white neighborhood, inside a restaurant at that. Nick and I experienced this ignorance together and I have been in Arizona as a student for about four years now. I'd always heard how stuck up and standoffish most white people are in Scottsdale are but had never experienced it like this. 

           NICK: The restaurant was packed as I expected it to be on a Friday night. This place reminded me of a place that's like the Smelly Rose and Red Lobster in one. This restaurant wasn't a shorts and flip flop location, so you had to come dressed impressionable y, you can say. Nice shoes, dress pants, and blue button up is what I wore. My significant other wore a dress from Talbots, so what she wore was appropriate. We were not going against any dress code but eyes were on us as if we were. The color of the restaurant was burgundy seats, chairs and matching lights as the center pieces. Tables were in Sync with burgundy and silver trim.

           ADRIANNA: I first felt the eyes watching us as if we were criminals getting escorted out of court. I couldnt believe that whites in Scottsdale are really like this, I mean I am positive we were both dressed appropriately. Working at Talbots, I experience “boogie” or rich but they think that anyone with a penny less is scum. Then I saw this mid 50s, white, pale and Sarah Palin hairstyle woman cover her damn food as Nick passed by. 

           Nick: I on the other hand was too in awe of how many eyes were drawn to us. I am 23 years old now and shouldn't be looked at differently because I'm with a woman of another race. Nor should such a choice be an issue for others. 

           ADRIANNA: It took everything in me not to tell Nick with my eyes or expression that something so foul was occurring. He would have said something to the woman for sure. We talked about the stares at out table. We only continued to eat there because we shouldnt give them the benefit of shunning us out with stares and rudeness. Our money is green just like theirs and we love the food at the restaurant.

           These are both incidents that will forever be etched in my mind. I dont ever think we will be able to move past such incidents or harsher. Till we get rid of classes and the ones who claim to be colorblind have their eyes opened to racism. A Latin gang member almost caused exactly what an Incident is defined as, an action likely to lead to grave consequences. This could have happened for him or us, he wasn’t aware of who we could have been, maybe two blacks with no conscience and ready to kill. What's occurring in the United States recently should be under the microscope. What happened in Ferguson and other cities days after shouldn’t be so hush hush right now. It feels as if the “patrol men” who did these killings are not facing any repercussions. The incidents I chose to cover came to mind with a stumble, only because I personally didn’t think that I was ever in such a predicament that meant anything other than what's immediately at hand. Once I did approach these two incidents and have been able to think more thoroughly about them for myself and through someone else's eyes. I realize that I should have thought of them instantly, for their illustration of how racism occurs, stereotyping, arrogance and snobbish people.

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