Wednesday, September 29, 2004

First of all, you should take Dave's, aka illscientist's poll and let him know that mustaches are so over, had their time with faux-hawks and white belts, and that I would look Grade A stupid with one. For some reason though, he thinks otherwise. Or maybe he doesn't and just wants to laugh at me. Either way, tell him no.

Second of all, it is dreary today after yesterday's monsoon weather. Do you know what that means? Morrissey weather! I had the foresight to bring Morrissey with me yesterday to work and it was the perfect music to listen to as I scurried from place to place under my umbrella - my umbrella which was blown all over the place, which failed to protect me from the sidways rain. The remnants of some hurricane.

I listened to Morrissey as I headed all the way out to Franklin Avenue on the 4 train in Brooklyn, where a police station was located, and where I was to examine photographs of black males between 30 and 35 years of age. One of the police officers set up a computer for me to look at photos, which I did for about five minutes, getting terribly depressed looking at all these mugshots of black males. The computer froze up and I went to the room he was in and told him so. He was watching a reality show on Fox about boxing with a few other cops. He sort of grunted and said that I could just look at them in this room, since he obviously did not want to miss any of the show. He set up the program on one of the computers in this room, half his back turned to watch the tv, and I again looked at mugshots of various black males, all of them becoming a blur, while the tv was blaring in the background along with commentary of all the white cops talking about boxing. I saw a guy that sort of looked like the mugger, but then I looked at the next page and saw another guy who sort of looked like the mugger. I then went back to the last page to compare the two photos to see that really they did not look that much alike, and I asked myself what I was doing there, asked myself if I was part of the problem.

It sounds horrible to say, but I was having trouble distinguishing between all these mugshots of black males, and I asked myself, I ask myself: If it had been a white mugger would I have had an easier time identifying him? I am pretty sure I know what the answer to that, and the answer doesn't sit very well with me, didn't sit very well with me last night, and I was getting increasingly uncomfortable with my inability to recall for certain what the guy looked like and after looking through all the photos in that program, I told the cop that I didn't see him and that I was just going to go home. "Giving up that easy?" he said, ready to show me more photos, and I told him that yes, I couldn't do it anymore, that it was all blurring together and that I was tired. He seemed disappointed with me, and as such I was reluctant to ask for a ride home (even though the other day, they told me if I came out, they would drive me home), and so I hurried out of the station back into the pouring rain. Shoes soaked, socks splashing with each step, made it through this black neighborhood to the station where everyone waiting for the train was black also, and I am not sure I would have been so aware of this normally, but after just looking at all those photos, I was acutely aware of racial distinctions, felt a little uncomfortable waiting there for the train, a little unsafe to be totally honest.

I put on my headphones, put on Morrissey and felt a lot more comfortable, got on the train. Three trains total to get home. Two transfers. The rain was wicked at the Broadway Junction stop where I waited for the L. I can say I live in a diverse neighborhood, can mention Poles, Italians, Puerto Ricans, and Hasidic Jews. On those three trains I rode, waited for, I saw that I live in a really white neighborhood. When people ask me which train I got robbed on, they are always shocked when I tell them, and they say, "You got mugged on the L?" Prior to this, I don't think I had really been aware (or as hyper-aware) of the racial dynamics of various train lines, that the L is a pretty white train line, especially in comparison to the other train lines that run through Brooklyn. It is pretty shocking, the contrast, the segregation.

And maybe it won't be a Morrissey day. The sun is now breaking through, and I can see a slight glare off the roof outside my window.

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