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Friday, November 19, 2010

Eye Contact

I have noticed this phenomenon before ...

I meet or casually walk past another Black person on the street in a place where there aren't many Black people (in this case, Warsaw) and we acknowledge each other. The acknowledgement takes the form of a nod or smile or even a "Hello". I must admit it is somewhat comforting. On days when I feel like "I stick out like a sore thumb", seeing someone that appears like me on the outside is soothing.

However, there are times when the Black person purposefully diverts his/her eyes from mine. This is what I call the "slave mentality". It is almost as if we are not suppose to acknowledge each other lest "master" sees us form a bond. This may sound far fetched, but it is a perception that pops into my head when this happens.

I have a racial program in me that plays itself out no matter where I go in the world. Those who think race and racism is a thing of the past cannot or will not see the long lasting and deep effect systematic and often covert racism has on the afflicted.

I must rid myself of this program ...


  1. Hi and welcome

    There's another side to this. When I used to see a black guy in Warsaw, I always used to wonder: "Is he British?"; "How's he getting on?"; "Is he finding it a bit tough? - as many white Brits do when they first come here; "Would he like to hear a friendly English voice?". I decided not to do anything and just walked on. After going through this a couple of times, I realised that I was staring at black people and thought that they probably got this all the time and might not like it - I once worked in an office in Kielce, where it was clear that everyone wanted to meet a mate of mine who came over to visit: they had never met a black man before. I then tried not to look directly at them (you). I don't know what the right balance is.

    I don't know if you know about the blogger meeting today (Saturday). Its at Legends from 2:00pm to late: see I hope to be there, although I won't be staying late. It would be good to see you.


  2. You know, that doesn't have to be necessarily a race thing - maybe the other Black person is entrenched in Polish culture where it's not customary to smile at strangers.

  3. I try not to do the "Hey we both have brown skin" thing while I'm here in Thailand, but it's soooo hard. Outside of Bangkok, there are few of African decent people walking around and I just can't help to give the nod. I usually forget what I look like after I shave in the morning, but the moment I see them, it reminds me that I am a rare breed of human here. The nod is cool. People thinking I'm anything like them because of my skin color is not. Why black people think race and culture is the same thing worldwide is beyond me.... btw from an American's point of view, life in Poland and Thailand are quite the same. I'm really enjoying your story.