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Gumbo

[Disclaimer: a rare, Realisa rant]

It is often too easy to make assumptions about people. If you are a minority, you have suffered some kind of profiling. A man of color knows what it means to have a white woman cross a street or clutch her handbag irregardless of if he is wear gang colors or a hand tailored Italian suit. I white guy covered in tattoos and wearing a leather vest is perceived as dangerous and possibly violent. A blonde woman with big tits is a bubble head dunce and can’t be taken seriously. No one hears a word that comes out of her mouth. Even other woman dismiss her. Within an ethnic group, there is stratification. Fair skin vs dark skin. Good hair vs bad hair. Latino and from an island vs Latino from the continent. In my hometown of Cutler Ridge (an area now called Cutler Bay in south Dade) there was a distinct division between Cubans than came after Batista vs those that came on the Mariel boat lift. Even among supposed “white people”….we layer out. The sediment is based on geography, education, housing.

I have a wonderful friend who is Greek and he taunts me about being so white and having no ethnicity. It makes me a bit defensive, because I don’t feel like white bread. I balk at this notion that I have no “group”. I dislike that we should aggregate and cluster into defined circles. It compounds my fear that I don’t belong because I have no card to carry. Yet, in my heart I am many things. ALL of those things. It is the source of empathy (for me and for everyone). When you can see yourself in another person’s position. I may not be an obvious ethnicity, but don’t assume I know nothing of racial strife or discrimination. My parents LEFT Alabama and moved to Miami…one of the best gumbo cities in the South (and when they moved there it was still Southern). I went to public school in Miami. The Mariel boatlift and the Central American coupes led to an exodus into Miami that saturated our infrastructure.  And just because I am college educated, a physician and business owner don’t assume I don’t know struggle. I am the daughter of the FIRST person in my family lineage to get a college degree (two generations ago, they were white POOR sharecroppers in Mississippi).

I rant (maybe) because I am disheartened by the lack of compromise and cooperation I witness in the seats of governments. I am despondent about these people we elect to “represent us”. They assume they know us based on our current zip codes and census data. It is a dangerous assumption. And as much as I am a composite score arrived at by the tally and totalling of my life experiences, I am more than a number. I am more than a party affiliation. And I do vote. The best thing about bread (even white bread) is that is sops up all kinds of goodness. And it stops being white bread.

I don’t eat off a plate with compartments, never letting my food touch. I like gumbo. I like stew. I like soup and casserole. Take a look at my Thanksgiving plate.

Our “leaders” best check themselves and stop assuming they know us and that they can predict what we want. My tastes and interests are diverse. My opinions are not fixed or rigid. I am a dynamic individual and……I change. I change fashion. I change hobbies. I changed my marital status. I changed age brackets. I might one day like drinking bourbon. I rule nothing out. I evolve. So don’t count me as an egg in your basket YET. I am not yet done.

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