Friday, November 3, 2017

Arkansas: Lake Catherine State Park, Part 2: "Two White Boys Nervous ... "

Lake Catherine State Park, Arkansas. October 2017.

October 2017
On the way to Missouri

At Arkansas' Lake Catherine State Park, I encountered a couple who had recently moved to a private development on the lake. Young, robust retirees with two sons in and just-out of college. When they learned I'd lately come from El Paso, the wife shared that their younger son had been there in early September for the Sun City Music Festival!

Cool, I thought! Along with a wistful wish that I might still be in El Paso.

Then the wife remarked that her son and his friend had tried out one of the famous eateries in El Paso - one that Food Network had spotlighted - Chico's Tacos.

I asked how they liked it, and her response startled me.

Her son had described the visit, and as she related it to me, his story began with "two white boys nervous about" going in to Chico's.


This statement has stuck with me. "Two white boys nervous about ...."

What the holy fuck did these two young, upper-middle class, presumably educated men think might happen when they visited this restaurant?

It's a myth that only the so-called "uneducated" carry irrational fears about people, places, and things which represent the unknown, the Other.

I'm using the word "irrational" as a bucket to hold: statistically unlikely, untrue, untested, uninformed, racist (conscious or unconscious), classist, and, yes, thoughtlessly stupid.

Through my domestic and international travels, I've observed that irrational fears are not bound by education, socio-economic status, race, culture, religious beliefs, age, gender, and no, not even by allegedly-enlightening travels.

Irrational fear is a terrible, terrible thing. We exclude people we fear. We demonize people we fear. We de-humanize people we fear. We denigrate people we fear. We kill people we fear.

Out of fear, we imprison ourselves in enclaves - in bubbles - of pretend safety. We deny ourselves access to the entire banquet table that life offers us, partaking only of certain foodstuffs available in one small section of the buffet.

"Two white boys nervous" about going to Chico's Tacos in El Paso. 

Jesus. Such statements believed and uttered by men who, in their future professional lives, will likely make decisions that impact dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in their circles of influence.

Such things just make me want to cry.

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