Tuesday, May 07, 2013
you think you know though you do not
You talk to a man in the discount shoe store. Tall, handsome, a bright smile, French accent. Assistant manager. I ask him about the Cole Haan shoes I was considering. Brown. Too expensive for me, even at 40% off. About $130. You think you know something of him or his background. You know nothing, or less. Are you from Africa? No. I am from Lvov, Ukraine. But I've lived in Moscow. And Washington, D.C. And Nigeria. When he was an infant, his mother tells him, he was a novelty, an item of fascination, like a display. The people there had never seen a black child, he says. Though of course the adjective "black" in this context is so skewed as to be meaningless, isn't it? I mean, think of the hues of a baby's skin, if you've ever observed a newborn, which I have but not recently. You think you remember though you do not.