It's like I'm looking into a mirror!

Let’s start this post with a seemingly unrelated story: When Andy and I were visiting friends in Eugene one New Years Eve, one girl (who had heard of me, but hadn’t yet met me) remarked “Oh, you must be Jen!” I smiled and said hello. I knew who she was, she looked exactly like her brother who I had known for several years. Then she continued, “I know this because I know Meg and Andy have a black friend named Jen and none of us knows any other black people.” or something in that vein, in a matter of fact tone. I looked at her like she was high and barked out a laugh. Because it was funny, and because she thought that tidbit would be interesting to me. Oh Yes! Your powers of perception positively blind me, friend!

So you see – here in Oregon, Black people are few and far between. So what happens when there’s a smattering (i.e. two) of us in the same vicinity? We’ll get to that.

In the office that I work in there are two people of color (not counting the ever changing student workers), one of them being me. So the ratio is 4:2…not too bad. Of course, the coworker in question is from Singapore, while I am a black American, so it’s not as if we’re on any kind of common ground besides the fact that we’re the “other”. But hey! Apparently being the only black female in my office makes it easier to single me out. Put another black girl into the mix and things might get KRAZY! Funny story: A coworker and I got pregnant around the same time (I was due end of June, and she the end of September), and since we were each going to be out on maternity leave but had no idea when (since babies don’t give a rat’s ass about due dates), it was decided that we would hire someone to cover our asses just in case. That someone turned out to be black, which I found moderately amusing because… didn’t you know there were 5 of us in Oregon? I mean, what are the ODDS? HA. Anyway, turns out that people were…you can guess what I’m going to say, right? THEY THOUGHT THAT SHE WAS ME. They thought -wow! you’re back so soon! Could it be that you’re Wonder Woman? Pop a baby out and back to work two weeks later? You go guuuuuurl.

Yeah, I kid… but I’m crying inside. One of my co-workers just told me this last week and I could. not. BELIEVE. IT. This woman looked NOTHING like me. Okay? And I mean, nothing. I could detail the ways in which we are different, but that would be unnecessary. *stares blankly* It frightens me that this shit continues to happen. Because really guys? REALLY? The next time any of you mentions that you “don’t see race” I’m punching you in the forehead.

Query: What would’ve happened if she would have stayed on, and we had worked side by side? Would heads have exploded? Would they have questioned me on my ability to duplicate myself?

Oh, and this would all tie in with the “compliments” that my sisters and I have gotten from white people, one of them being: “You look just like Whitney Housten.” Meaning…”You’re pretty.” Because just to say “You’re pretty.” wouldn’t have had the same effect, right? This was said from an in law to my sister on her wedding day. Telling her that she looked just like a famous attractive black woman (RANDOM?) was supposed to make her feel what? Touched? Tickled pink?

Nah dude. You’re an ignorant slut.



Filed under Black American, black women, Life, Opinion, Race, Rant

11 responses to “It's like I'm looking into a mirror!

  1. Hey, you look black.
    Are you Michael Jordan?

  2. Timbre

    OMG, okay i’m going to subscribe just for this alone! First off—L.O.L. Secondly, kudo’s thank you for spitting out everything my friends and I have been chuckling about over the years. your post is hilarious, and sadly just as painful. When it comes down to it i guess, people just want to be seen, not seen through, like we’re just some shadow, invisible until, for a moment, someone wakes from their stupor. And even then they can’t get it right. My question: are people ever ashamed of their carelessness with other people, in general? I’d say keep your head up, sister, but you seem to have it covered.


    Thanks for the enlightened post.

  3. First of all: Andy. Hilarity. Would it be equally irresponsible to therefore charge you with the mental emancipation of your phenotype-brethren?
    Second of all: I shall have to blog my response.

  4. Pingback: Fun Times With Race « Prune Candy

  5. Oh and um. Please understand that not seeing my race while I’m still “feeling” it (ie society!) is kind of … enRAGING??

  6. Jen

    Timbre – thanks! 🙂
    You know, I’d like to think that enlightenment comes to some of those people, but the cynic in me doubts it.

  7. Jen

    EnRAGING sounds about right. Capital letters included. I’ve had so many people cluck their tongues at me and “feel sorry for me” because I am so “caught up” in race. Meanwhile they can turn a blind eye to it all.
    How nice for them. *hums a happy tune*

  8. meg

    …I HAVE TO KNOW!!! Who said it? Wait, let me guess, it was every single person there, am I right?
    I don’t have much else to say cause everything you’re saying is so right and there’s seemingly nothing I can do about stupid white people. I’d just like you to know that I’ll never stop thinking you’re black, ever, and also I don’t think Bethany looks like whitney housten. Sorry Bethany, I just don’t.

  9. Jen

    I didn’t ask for names but my co-workers have said that it was several people who made the mistake.

  10. Meg. I have *breaks down…composes herself* I have been doing crack around the clock, HOPING that I could stop just looking like Whitney to white people… but literally impersonate her entire life. … Thanks, Meg. Just. Thanks.

  11. meg

    SEVERAL !!!! yeah, nice. and can I just mention that people are morons most of the time? I’m just sayin… oh and also…Bethany, I was wrong in my last comment, I don’t know what came over me. When I look at you, all I can see is crack addict Whitney look a like. there, I said it!

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