So today I went to a networking event hosted by my alma mater. It was a great opportunity to mix and mingle and listen to successful business people shed some knowledge.
However, what caught my attention was something that happened and that left me wondering.
During the event I met an older black lady and the first thing I noticed after shaking her hand, was that she was not shaking hands with any man that presented theirs in greeting ( at that point my friend and I were the only women that had introduced themselves). I thought it was odd, but then from my experiences around the world with both jewish and muslim cultures I just assumed it had to do with some particular beliefs.
That idea went out the window when another older black man came to greet her and her arms magically unfolded as she shook his hand.
That threw me for a loop, it was now evident that she was selectively only engaging in physical contact ( hand shake) with the black folks in the room.
I’m not sure why but that made me somewhat uncomfortable.
When I saw the contempt ( lol I’ve been watching “Lie to me” guys) on the white guys’ face that had just tried to shake her hand, and got denied, witnessing the next guy getting his (black) hand shook (he physically leaned over to see if she would) I really felt his scorn.
Come to find out the lady, went to the University when it was barely integrated and she had to endure a lot in her time, which I can’t even to begin to imagine what was that like. ( YES I grew up in Italy, YES I was the ONLY black kid from elementary to High school, on my basketball team, in my church catechism class, at the pool..ok you get the point NO it was not segregated and YES I endured racist abusive acts READ HERE) , but ( and I might be very wrong here) should she be able to look past it due to her current success and due to the fact that she overcame such a hard stage of her life? The oxymoron to me, is that she was a psychologist and in my mind I imagined she would have been the best person to know how to “move past emotional issues” or at the very least know how to not take it out on the people that have not directly caused her past pain.
Of course I don’t know what in her life brought her to such a selective social behavior, and I can’t judge what I don’t know, and wouldn’t dream to do so, but just based on my life experiences ( the link you read was only ONE of many in my first 20 years of life in Italy) I could not imagine automatically exing out all white folks because of a selective few, and if that were the case I would simply not go to an event where I knew for a fact I would be a minority( but that’s me); matter of fact I would probably go just to be all up in everyone’s face lol ( I’m that annoying I know).
Today’s incident reminded me of a book I recently read ( I have mixed feelings about this read, but there were some point I could truly relate with) “Americanah” by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie who in one perfect paragraph clarified to me why this type of incident are so hard for me (and perhaps other non American blacks) to register and identify with.
You know I had my fair share of discrimination and racially fueled incidents that had me walking around as an angry little girl 90% of the day every day for 20 years…but guess what I left Italy and welp…I’ve never looked back. All that to say…could she have not come to the event if she had that much contempt for the crowd that was the majority there?Was her behavior excusable?
Please let me know your thought and weigh in on this one, I would like to hear your voices.
Ok guys my rant was long enough,
Ciao for now,