All things come to a beginning

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's in your eyes (part trois)

I haven't come up with a name for it yet but for now I'll call it the "Public Transportation Rating". Your PTR refers to your desirability as someone to sit next to on the bus or train. I have a very high rating. It happens regularly that out of all the empty seats, people choose the one next to me. I don't take up more space than my own seat, I'm usually reading and minding my own business, no loud music blasting out of my head phones, I try to monitor my BO, I'm a young woman...and all of that put together apparently makes me entirely non-threatening to the average passenger.

And more than anything, the fact that I'm white, blonde and blue-eyed. I took the bus home Friday night, rush hour, pretty packed, and sat down next to a black man. I looked around and noticed that the four or five empty seats left in the bus all just happened to be next to the four or five black passengers on the bus. As the bus drove on, more and more people got on, looked around, got visibly uncomfortable...and decided to stand. In that little space in front of the doors. I couldn't believe my eyes. The absurdity of having four, five people choosing to stand up for a good half hour when there were available seats in front of their nose - it was such a blatant rejection of human beings, I felt like bursting into tears. I was embarrassed and frustrated, but too much of a coward to say anything. Fuck. I'm not claiming Rosa Parks status or that I'm free of prejudice or racism myself, but it's been a day and I still can't wrap my head around what I saw.

"De culturele diversiteit van ons land, als we ze goed beleven, is een geweldige troef", aldus koning Albert.


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