The other day, in a moment of admiration of the piece on racism in soccer in Italy, I wrote a short quip on Facebook:
I cringe when an oblivious, obnoxious Italian enthusiastically walks up to me and shouts with crossed wrists, “Gangnam style?!”
Sorry, kid, that’s so last year.
Yes, it did happen. Yes, I was offended. But instead I gave him a look and then continued my way.
But then I wonder, what if I did stop him and said, “Hey, that’s not cool.” Would that have made a difference? Would have now known better? Would he ever know?
But in the end, in America, I indulge in being the model minority. And when I travel to other countries, I hesitate because suddenly I am not admired anymore…I am just another minority. It took me awhile to figure this out and the realization has made me hesitate.
But what riles me up isn’t racism. The fact that one may assume something about my race before getting to know me: most of the time, it’s that I don’t speak English.
But what really riles me up is sexism. I always tell the story of the cab ride where I slowly got into a cab while my friends had rushed in forcing the driver to wait for me as I slowly ambled across the street. Then how shortly in the cab, I spent more time on my phone rather than engaging in conversation. Just because of that, the cab driver made a comment about how slow and disconnected females were. I would have rather relished in him critiquing me individually for being out of touch, but to blame it on gender horrified me. And as the cab ride ended, I was stunned, shocked…and didn’t say a single thing.
There’s more of course. There’s the experience of observing burqas in Turkey. The observation that some women did not have a choice. That traveling as a single female in certain parts of the world is unsafe just for the fact of gender.