The night started off well enough. I had a pleasant dinner with Mike at Naan and Curry, a Pakistani joint near North Beach. I ordered the channa masala while he ordered the palak paneer. Good food all around and cheap. Our two entrees, naan, and root beer came to a total of $14!
Mike walked me back to the station, but not before a detour through Embarcadero so that I could get a look at the pier and the Bay Bridge at night. I thoroughly enjoyed the company and set off for home in good spirits. I've met a lot of people since moving here, and in general I've found the people of San Francisco to be an interesting, intelligent, fun group of people.
As I was heading home on the Muni, a group of self-proclaimed "niggas" got on. My father is black. And he grew up in Jim Crow-era North Carolina. He and I have had discussions regarding the reclamation and transformation of the word "nigger" to "nigga." He's never liked it, and I can't say that I am psyched about the word, either. I definitely was not happy listening to the incredibly loud conversation that was punctuated with shouts of "fuck you nigga", "fuck you, gold diggin bitch", "don't front nigga", on and on ad nauseum.
I wish I was bold enough to call these guys on their behavior and make them realize all of the stereotypes they were reinforcing. But I just sat there in silence like everyone else. Finally the train got to my stop. The irritating guys made no effort to let people pass, so I had to brush by one of them. I accidentally clipped his foot. I immediately apologized as I headed for the door and got "fuck off Jap bastard" in return. *Sigh*
I posted this on the People of Color Forum of Craigslist. Here are some of the more notable replies:
"fuck off kim chee sucka"
"blacks feel that they are invisable that all people see them as you put it 'thugz' and never the person inside. So they act like they don't see anyone else because no else sees them. Black teenagers are guilty of this, they are the most likley to be sterotyped. When people look at you and see just another one of those 'thugz' you are not likley to build up normal social habits. To them nothing outside of their neighborhood is real."
"i don't believe you. i have heard blacks use all types of slang and derogatory phrases but never that one."
"Sometimes blacks can get creative too, ya know?"
"The bottom line is you aren't bold enough."
"Yeah, but I wouldn't expect a man of small stature who can't fight and is alone, for example, to put himself in a position where his health might be jeopardized over something like name-calling. "
"so, how do you insert yourself into their convo? I can't imagine how I'd step into their dynamic. 'Excuse me, but why must you live out a tired stereotype?' I seriously don't know what I'd say."
"If his foot was in the way you had no need to apologize. He should have."
A whole side thread got started questioning if I actually got called a "jap bastard" and whether or not I was a troll. So I responded and pointed people to this blog. I even got an apology from a doubter.