Have you ever hung out with friends of different races/ethnicities and every now and then something comes up that reminds you, wow, there really are cultural differences that slip through?
So a few times a month I meet up with 2 of my former co-workers-turned-friends who both happen to be white. We eat, drink, cackle, what have you. One is named ‘J’, one is ‘T’.
One time, we met up at a restaurant after work and it was raining. I don’t even remember how we got on this topic, but we started discussing what to wear when it rains. Now, most black people I know (me included) joke about the “white people uniform” of sweatshirt, shorts, and flip-flops no matter what the weather is. It could be a blizzard, hail, heat-stroke weather, whatever, but they are gonna STUNT in their “white people uniform” and ain’t shit we can say about it. So I was telling them that I always check the weather before I leave and have a pair of closed-toe shoes or sneakers ready. BTW, we live in Houston where if there’s anywhere from 10-30% chance of rain, it’s going to rain, you just have to guess where, and for how long. If it’s anywhere from 40% on up chance of rain, it’s going to rain EVERYWHERE and you just have to hope it doesn’t flood. So again, I told them I STAY sneakered up for rain possibilities. We moved on to other topics.
We met up again at a different date, and we start talking and ‘J’ gets all crunk out of nowhere saying, Gem! I took your suggestion about wearing sneakers when it rains and OMG it worked! I was so comfortable! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that sooner! So she’s just extra-crunk about closed-toe shoes in the rain and I’m staring at her like O_O. After that I thought, well maybe that’s one stereotype that’s true, white people really don’t alter their wardrobe for rain like black people do.
So another dinner date comes up, we’re all talking, and (I don’t remember why this came up) I asked ‘T’ if she could swim. She gave me a look like I lick windows and said “…Yeah” nodding her head slowly like you do with “special” people. Her response suggested that in her mind, everyone knows how to swim so why would I even ask that? I got a little defensive and said well, I know more people who cannot swim than those who can. Her eyes widened in surprise, “Really??” Then it dawned on me. The stereotype that black people can’t swim is real y’all. For the record, *I* know how to swim, my husband can swim, and my father/brothers/sister can swim. But damn near EVERY other black person I know, from my family on my mother’s side, to Crabby’s family, to our friends, DO NOT KNOW HOW TO SWIM. I said to ‘T’, “I think it’s a black thing.” Sure enough, just about everyone she knows (white) knows how to swim.
Those 2 small incidents have stuck with me since they happened. There truly are little differences in the way people grow up. Yes, I know this occurs within-races too but these incidents just happened to prove widely-held stereotypes/jokes as fact. It’s just funny whenever that happens. I dunno, maybe I’m weird but it’s funny to me. Like, at what point in a black person’s childhood does it become ingrained in us that we check the weather and alter our wardrobe accordingly, where white people don’t? Where does the focus on learning to swim come into white people’s lives as normal and black people’s as abnormal? I WANTED to learn how to swim as a youngster, otherwise I’m pretty sure my mother wouldn’t have pushed for it.
Anyhoo, have you had any similar experiences with your own friends of different backgrounds? Share!