Does it offend me? I am not sure. Do I like it? No.It just disturbs me.I was also intrigued with another post, Why Do They Smile At Me:
Perhaps it is because he has been forever torn from his roots.
Perhaps it is because he will always battle with who he is and his place in society.
Perhaps it is because I know that we have missed the opportunity to raise our own children.
Perhaps it is embarrassment that we can’t take care of our own.
It is a complicated issue that simply leaves me with complicated and confused and helpless emotions. Appreciation for those who want to help and yet an awareness of the consequences for all action and inaction.
Today was no unusual day in the life of an Ethiopian in America. I took a day off to enjoy the city and ended up at the Smithsonian where a nice Ethiopian man working at the espresso bar offered me some tea while we chatted. Then a white couple possibly in their late 50s came to order and looked at both of us and smiled.A trenchant insight into standing out because of your race and/or national origin, and a kind of condescension of first worlders to people who represent the third world to them.
Oh the smile, I see it almost everyday now that I live in DC.
* * *
So what do those smiles mean? I compiled a list of things they may be thinking:
I built a well for people that look just like you!
I had something to do with you being here, I worked for the INS!
I donated money during the live8 concerts!
I used to work in Addis Abeba!
I love Ethiopian food!
I just adopted an Ethiopian boy!
Ethiopian women are SO-O-O beautiful!
I know she is Ethiopian, I just know it, I am soo smart!
I know how to Eskesta!
I have an Ethiopian friend called Asefa!
I can’t logically hold anything against people who recognize where I am from. They probably don’t do it out of malice or ill-will. However, I do feel that there are all sorts of generalizations and labeling going on in their minds- which is probably why it makes me feel uncomfortable.