Sunday, September 6, 2020

Reverse Discrimination? "Do You Live In This Neighborhood?" & Poem: "Waiting At Ueno Station"

 Did she really say that to me?

Yes, a middle-aged African-American woman did ask me whether I lived in her neighborhood, a northern section of Mount Baker a few blocks east of Martin Luther King Way South.  Why was she inquiring, what made her ask this question?  Because I had parked my cab half-way in front of her house on 31st Avenue South, intent on leaving it there no more than 15 minutes. Were there other parking places close by?  Yes.  Was there one directly across the street from her house?  Yes.  Was I parked legally, allowing me to be there for a full 24-hour day?  Yes, I was.  Since I was not doing anything wrong, what prompted her response?  

She did angrily say she was "paying $12.000 per year in property taxes," implying she must get something for all of that wasted money, even if it's only the ability to park in front of the house.  But it could also be that I was driving a cab, making me a kind of socio-economic sub-species, and white too, an insult to her injury, a caucasian lower-caste cipher staining her neighborhood?  It isn't the first time I encountered objections to my parked cab, something about the color yellow maddening to the upper-middle class mind.  

And now this black woman questioning me like she and other blacks would be questioned in most white American neighborhoods.  "What are you doing here?" she would be asked, with local police soon arriving to take her away, or worse, shoot her.    She asked what I was doing.  I still can't believe she stepped over that line, implying I was less than her.  Welcome to America, is all I can say---red, white, black, brown, yellow or blue---welcome to the simmering racial zoo.

Poem: "Waiting at Ueno Station" based on the novel, "Tokyo Ueno Station" by Korean-Japanese writer Yu Miri

                                        Kazu is waiting for me on page 172.

                                        Is he dying?   

                                        I will soon to know, the book concluding on page 180.

                                        It's raining in Tokyo.  He's homeless.  He's alone.

                                        If I hurry I can keep him company for a few remaining minutes,

                                       assessing the damage of a muted life disappearing from casual view, 

                                       mist obscuring yet another very personal history absorbed into

                                       a cemetery night.







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