minority report

I am the only person of color in my office. But I'm not the token minority in my office. In other words, I pull my weight as expected. But since its a fairly liberal environment, white people will tiptoe around me at times (aside from our interoffice bball games where I've been nicknamed the "Filipino Monsoon" for raining buckets with the basketball.) Any subject involving race or ethnicity is handled in front of me with ultra respectful sensitivity. I suspect this isn't the case in my absence. I don't know whether to appreciate their efforts to be PC or to be annoyed by their overcompensation. Either way, I manage to be likeable. I have not alienated myself as the angry person of color (at least I don't think so).

Perceptions are funny though - especially initial reactions. When I arrived at my new post, I was introduced as a talented designer but perceived as the young urban hiphop kid. First off, I may have a youngish appearance and I'm the youngest in my department, but I'm clearly not a kid. I have to remind them that yes, I do remember things from the 80's. And one coworker nearly spit out his drink when I mentioned that I've been married for 7 years. He replied, "Wait, how old are you?!?!" I should've told him I was in a cult and married at age 14.

Secondly, I seemingly shocked them when I told them I live in the quiet burbs in south jersey instead of the murderous streets of killadelphia. Huh, the kid lives amongst us? One lady, who happens to be the whitest lady I ever met said, "What?! I thought you lived in Philly. You're like all urban." I thought about telling her that I was on furlough but she'd probably believe it. So I simply replied, "Yes, yes, I did live there for years but now I'm in jersey".

And then there's music. We like to promote a creative environment so often music is blasted in the office. A lot of my coworkers were former rock n' rollers. So they rock out. Which is cool. There's a couple guys closer to my age that dabble in hiphop. Of course, since they're white suburbanites, they put on the most hardcore shit and blast it out. Call me soft, but when I've play music in the office, I select the most unoffensive songs - there are women in our area to be respected. But not these guys. Once a month, they'll blast WuTang, MOP, Biggie, Ghostface with the "n" word and ho's and bitches and profanity all up in the air. One time I had to speak to a marketing rep at her desk about a job. And she cheerfully tiptoed a feigned approval, "This must be your music. (background music: slaughter / electrical tape around your daughter) You put this on right? (cocksucker, g's up...p*ssy when i want, rolex on the arm, you'll die slow but calm) I don't know who it is, but I like it!" I reply... "umm.. its Biggie (hoping that porno sex track from "Ready to Die" doesn't come on)...umm I didn't put it on...but I yeah...I like it."

Then one day, some guy noticed 5 years later that kids like to wear baseball caps with the brims straight and the sticker left on it. "Why do they do this?" Of course, eyes fell on me for an explanation. On another day, they were debating slang and concluded that I could explain the definition of "flossin'" and the meaning of brushing dirt off your shoulder. I'm considering buying them that Urban Dictionary book that I saw at B&N, so that they can speak "my language".

Ultimately their good, if not awkward intentions are humorous and harmless in my eyes. Reminds me of college, when me and my korean roomate each put a towel over our heads and steamed our faces over a boiling pot of water (ok, that sounds weird but it feels good). Our white roomate walked in and asked what we were doing. Korean guy replied bluntly, "Its part of our religion." White guy exclaims, "Oh that is soooo interesting. I had no idea that it was part of your religion!" Of course he didn't ask what religion we belonged to and walked away enlightened. Probably proudly told all his friends that chinese people steam their faces to pay homage to hindu cow gods.

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