White Girl in Southeast DC
“Miss lady are you lost?”
“No, I know where I’m going but thank you.”
The elderly African American women walks to an empty seat on the U5 bus shaking her head. I am the only white person on the bus. I was the only white person on the metro and from the looks of it I am the only white person for several miles. I am struck every time I leave the red line how much of a white bubble myself and many AU students live in, here in Washington, DC. Being the minority is scary. As much as I would like to say that after giving numerous presentation to the far reaches of the metropolitan area I am fearless walking miles from the metro station to the location being the only white kid but each adventures creates a pit of fear that maybe this is the adventure something happens. But instead I learned life lessons that I will remember for the rest of my life. 1. Attitude is everything.
When the first thing I think of when I woke up in the morning was how much I was dreeding making the 45 minute commute to the office and then an addition hour of commuting to and from a presentation doesn’t really put you in the best of moods. I carried that dread with me all day and it showed in my presentations. Dreed = half ass presentation. On the other hand if I woke up excited about meeting a new group of kids it put me in a much better mood. Excited = alert presentation.
2. Fake it till you make it.
Pretending like you know where you’re going will help to avoid the “friendly” men to give you directions. First presentation I did I got off two bus stops early, so when I stepped off I was not standing in front of 53rd street where I needed to be. A young man clued into this and asked me where I needed to be and processed to walk me all the way to the Recreation Center. He asked me if I was married, no, then if I had a boyfriend, no, then asked from my number. Without asking my name or anything else. When I called him on it he just laughed and asked for the number again and followed my into the Rec Center…from then on I made sure to ask only metro employees for directions and pretend that I know exactly where I’m going. I walk with purpose. I carry my head high. Even when I am walking in the wrong direction I duck into a store pretending like that is exactly where I was going.
3. Keep your phone fully charged.
Smoke signals can only be seen from so far away. Telepathy seems to escape me. So thus if anything were to happen A CELL PHONE WOULD ALLOW YOU TO CALL 911.
It confuses people. You might be scared. Your inners might be sinking with panic. But if you smile the people around you have no choice but to smile back. Being the only white kid for a good ten miles holding my head high and smiling makes every put their head down as they walk by me (although they might also just be mumbling under the breath about the crazy little white girl). BUT smiling can also help you to mask your own fear until you believe in yourself, too.
Tomorrow I am finnishing off my internship with a bang, Anacostia. Words can not describe how happy I am that my trecks to Southeast will soon be over. While each presentation has had different group dynamics and I have gotten a chance to explore parts of DC I would never set foot in, I am glad to be done with it.