I always do this in v public spaces. Especially like to people-watch in airports. So... me observations:
Girl frontleft has really nice collarbones oh lord.
Why is she wearing entirely brown? Ya turd!
College students already begin to assume the attitudes and behaviors of professional adults: I am confident and self-reliant enough to sit alone, I am eating this bagel carefully, I read the Economist and I furrow my brow and squint at the sloppy boy to my left.
A man dressed and looking like a really tired homeless man just boarded for first class. ? Am I just being a judgemental b or did some one win something?
And this kills me but I can't stop thinking about it:
Two students: one athletic-looking girl, one frattish boy. Listening to their conversation, “girl” and “boy” suit them perfectly. She is the rash, talkative girl in class who is a dumb shit but doesn’t shut up. He wears a purple baseball cap and speaks with cautious pauses. I am three seats away.
A group of college students, I think from Amherst (by their hoodies), arrive at the gate together and pull out a deck of cards (I miss Lowell terribly!) and a camera.
The two to my left immediately cut their conversation, lean in, inquire, “Do you like Asians? Can you tell what they are? There’s an Asian girl on my floor this year“ and wonder if they’re going to Philly where my connecting flight's headed or “back to some place Asian.”
A reflection of their upbringing? - that any one non-white comes from somewhere else, doesn’t subscribe to what is American, and is always on the way “back to some place” after their foray into a sophisticated world?
They notice that I’m only three seats away, that I’m Asian, that I can hear them. Fits of silence!
Should I have said something? I keep thinking about this and it bothers me that my logic for silence is that I can’t be of any help. What could I have said that stemmed from reason rather than anger? It’s not as if their thoughts are based on reason. (Therefore it’s not as if rationality could alter their way of thinking.) Their experiences are clearly based on a lack of interaction, lack of experience. Is it even possible to conduct relations face to face when my face - my person - are what elicited their reactions? AH!!
It is so strange to be a minority. Of course this happens at home, but there is always a point made about San Francisco being so incredibly diverse and tolerant. Of course that’s not entirely true or realistic in terms of race dynamics (or very much else), but living on the East Coast, even in a small town that’s known for its gender/identity tolerance, I am incredibly aware that I am not white. In fact, it doesn’t matter that I am Chinese American – I am not white. This identity is assumed the default in most places, but fiercely reinforced here, as anything otherwise is otherwise and is immediately noted. Yes, I’ve always been aware of this – it’s true everywhere. But what upsets me is that this awareness seems to arise at every moment at which I am unaware of my race identity.