“Nobody wins when the family feuds”- Jay Z
Top: Ross (3x), Jeans: Torrid (24s) Lipstick (Colorpop- Crystal Ball)
Happy Hump Day Everyone! I hope that you all are doing well! I have debated back and forth about how I wanted to word this conversation. I don’t want to say the wrong things or be insensitive or dismissive in any way but this is a conversation that needs to be had. As you all know, I try to showcase my style while discussing some social or cultural issue that is important to me. My goal as a blogger is to mix beauty with substance. I want to relate to my audience but I always want to challenge you. I want you to walk away from my blog and think about life and the world.
For months, I begged Maribel and Blake to visit Slim & Huskies Pizza Beeria in North Nashville. On Saturday, the finally obliged me. We stood in the long line with the rest of the customers. Anyone with eyes can see that Nashville is going through a shift, gentrification. Historically poor, and minority areas are being overtaken and the residents are being forced out. What’s left is a tension between the old and the new. Slim and Huskies sits up the street from Buchanan St. and a few blocks away from both Germantown and the new Nashville Sounds Stadium. Let’s be real, the projects is less that a quick walk away from Slim & Huskies. One of the employees came out and informed us of the business’s plans to expand. As the guy headed back into the building, one of the customers in line, said something and then called him homie. This guy was with his family and the looked like they came from Brentwood or Hendersonville. It’s baffling to me that middle to upper class white people are willing coming to the hood but don’t give a flip about the people there. This young white guy thought it was cool to address the young black waiter as homie. Once he said that, I knew that this would not be a regular dinning experience. Now, this is my third time eating at Slim & Huskies, but it was by far the most interesting, important experience that I’ve had at that establishment.
I noticed an older black men in line with a woman with whom I am assuming was his wife. What I love about Slim & Huskies, is that it is a black business, created by TSU alumni. These guys opened their business down the street from the projects, in a poor area, that is experiencing the clash between the new white, and the old black. They are building an empire in an area that has been overlooked and the residents, sorely ignored. That’s why I ride so hard for this business. While the pizza and service is phenomenal, this business if very black. There are pizza’s named after hip hop and rnb songs and artist. The bathrooms have black caricatures with box top cuts and afros. When I came the last time, they were showing Juice, as a dedication to Tupac when All Eyes On Me was released. This time, we watched a Martin Marathon. The employees are black. Everything about this business is a representation of the culture. They could have moved anywhere, but they picked an area where the people needed a place like that.
The news portrays black people a certain way, especially poor blacks. I take pride in the fact that this black business is booming just a few blocks away from where I went to school. I love that the residents of that area can walk down the street and get a good meal, and dine in a place where they are respected.
The first time I went, I went alone. The second time, I went with an all of my girls, who happened to all be black. The last time, I went with Maribel and Blake. As we finally secured a table in the busy restaurant, the white guy that called the black waiter, homie, spoke to the old man that was in line behind him, and called him buddy. Now I missed the majority of their interactions during my time there, but calling an elder buddy is disrespectful, particularly when you are referencing a older black man as a young white guy. It was always a nice way of him calling that older man, boy.
The man and his wife sat down next to Maribel, Blake and me about 15 minutes into our conversation. We were discussing the areas in which Slim & Huskies was planning to expand. Blake said that he thought the greeter said that they were interested in opening a sect in Green Hills. Maribel questioned how well the business would do, in a predominantly affluent white area. Prior to this, I was gushing over how much I loved the blackness of Slim & Huskies. Here we sat, discussing race and class. I kept saying that Slim & Huskies would do great in Green Hills because of the product and the hype. The white people who visit aren’t coming because they love the culture, which I might add is super sad, but they like the product. The black population of green hills, I hope, will appreciate the element of culture that the restaurant will bring, if, in fact, that’s where they are planning to expand. Several other areas were named as well as expansion territories.
Some where along my discussion with them about race and class, the older gentleman, in anger, interjected himself into our conversation. He screamed at me at the top of his lungs. He was cursing at me and outright pissed off. Initially, I was shaken, because I didn’t even realized that he had listened to bits and pieces of our conversation. Maribel, instantly went into mom mode, when he started yelling at me. She turned blood red. After I was able to gather myself, I asked him to explain to me what I said or did wrong. He told me that I’ve never experienced racism and and that I’ll never know what I was doing wrong. I knew exactly what upset him, but I wanted him to admit it.
He was upset, that I was a black woman, discussing race and class issues, with who he assumed to be, two white people. He talked about the civil rights movement, and how awful white people have been. Maribel told him that her parents are immigrants from Mexico, and that she does understand oppression. After she said that, the conversation changed a bit. I told him that he is supposed to be an elder and wise, and that instead of publicly cursing and screaming at me, he could have politely told me how he felt. He assumed that I was some coon , shuffling my feet for white people. I will never experience racism in the way that my grandparents and ancestors have, but to dismiss my experience as a poor black woman in this world is not fair.
Often, we discuss the disconnect between the older generation and the youth. This disconnect was further separated by gender. I felt that it was easier for him to take out his frustration with white people on me, that it was for him to tell that young white boy to stop calling him Buddy. it was easier for him to unload and curse at me, when he’s upset about the gentrification in his area.
Just like after a hard day at work, you may come home and unload on your spouse, or release the anger on a loved one who really didn’t hurt you, he came at me as if I was a white person, persecuting him, as if I was that white boy, calling him buddy or calling the other guy homie
He hurt me so bad, because I’ve struggled my entire life with being too black for the white kids I was in school with, and not being black enough for the black kids. People automatically view Maribel as white, because of her skin color, and dismiss her experiences as a Mexican American. I view the elderly as our teachers. If I had done something wrong, he could have told me. He didn’t have to make a spectacle of me because I was sitting with, who he assumed to be, two white people.
He kept saying that they would’t understand, that they don’t give a shit about what I was saying. He felt that I shouldn’t have discussed race and class issues with the oppressors. He ended the conversation by talking about Jesus being persecuted, and everyone needing to love.
Honestly, I left the conversation extremely sad and angry. This man knew nothing about me, Maribel or Blake but assumed so much. Blake thought that the young white guy in the line really triggered him and that he unleashed on me because it was easy.
I never want to dismiss how white people and racism have influenced his life. Still, I don’t think that he has an elder, or a man, should have approached me that way. Without a doubt, I think that this incident was necessary because at some point we have to talk about the racial and class tensions in Nashville. We dance around it so much, but its evident, living and breathing still.
I don’t think that everything he said was wrong. For some of the conversation, I don’t think that I was saying was truly being understood. But why not have the conversation any? We can’t understand if we don’t discuss.
A house divided can not stand. Nobody wins when the family feuds. That man didn’t know that my grandmother raised me, and told me about her experiences as a black woman that lived through the 1920s-2000s. He acted as if black youth today are living freely. We are still fighting for our lives.
It will never be to the same degree that it was in the past. To some degree things have changed and in another way things are still the same as before. If we as a community aren’t discussing, how will thing progress? I do you reconnect after a disconnect? I felt unprotected and attacked by someone that looks like me. India Arie said it best, no one has the power to hurt you like your kin. I left feeling even more isolated and ostracized.
This interaction left me conflicted. Was I wrong for discussing race and class with my friends who happened to be Mexican and White? That man had every right to be prejudice. I don’t deny that.
I just am confused by the message of love. He didn’t love me when he was screaming and cursing at me, or assuming he knew me or when he initially refused to explained to me what I did to offend him. I refuse to bash black men, but sometimes I feel disconnected from them. It was easier for him to bash me, the black youth, than to say something to the white boy that was disrespecting him.
Was I wrong for having this conversation with my friends? Should I only discuss black issues with black people? Will non-black people really ever understand? Am I wrong for connecting with minorities that have experienced and are experiencing oppression? Someone tell me what I did wrong? I wouldn’t have had that conversation with just any old person off the street. I had it with people that I know well, and with whom I am confirmable.
Do you think that I an naive or foolish? What are your thoughts on the interaction? I love black people. The situation left me very heartbroken.
Tell me what you all think.
Until next time,