Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stuff White People Don't Like

#99: Respecting other people's space (ie: putting their feet on your armrests.)

Last weekend I was en route to DC on the oh-so-fancy Virgin Airlines. I settled into my nice leather seat to the soothing sounds of downtempo house music and the soft glare of neon pink and blue lights (f'real, f'real). I had a window seat -- score! I had just leaned over to glance out the window when I noticed that someone's crusty ass birkenstock-clad feet on my armrest. Apparently, the white woman sitting directly behind me, who look to be in her late twenties, thought that shit was cool.

I turn around, "Excuse me." I say in voice that was probably way too polite.

The dumb broad doesn't flinch. I call again, "Excuse me?" I say a little louder.

She finally puts down her paper, and looks at me, annoyed. "Can you please move your feet?" I ask.

She rolls her eyes and moves her feet from all up in my personal space.

Ten minutes later, she does it again.

Now I'm heated. I turn around and sternly say "Excuse me". She doesn't flinch. I pinch her feet and call out to her several more times in a voice that's so loud people in the back of the plane think I'm talking to them. She moves her newspaper to cover the space between my seat and the seat next to mine that I was looking at her from. Finally, I stand up, turn around, and look directly down at her.

"You need to move your feet", I say. "I've already asked you once."

Dumb broad: "Ugh, well, they're not touching you."

Me: I don't care. It's rude, and the last thing I want is to look at someone's feet on my seat for the next 5 hours."

DB: rolls her eyes again, mumbles some shit about how I better not move my seat back, and then moves.

I was pissed the fuck off, which is not a good thing when you're on a plane going cross-country. I was heated that this woman had the audacity to think that shit was okay. We all know that white people have a tendency to try to colonize shit when they get bored, but that wasn't what irked me the most. It was my response. I sat there for four hours as this dumb broad periodically kicked my seat, with the collective anger of all the disrespectful comments I'd heard from white people recently. And yes, this is less than a week after my run-in with Mr. "I-love-your-African-forehead." Anyone who knows me is well aware that I try to avoid confrontation like the plague, but I was two seconds from sticking my foot up this cocky bitch's ass.

More than anything, I felt helpless. I'm a soft-spoken lover, not a fighter. I was aware that my anger and frustration at this ridiculous situation had more to do with just being fed up with people taking advantage of me, period. Whether it's a white woman on a plane, a Black man saying vulgar shit to me on the street or an overpowering woman of color berating me for being shy, I was sick of it.


I decide to confront the woman when our plane lands. I wait for her at the end of the terminal and when she sees me, she immediately turns the other way to run into the bathroom. Fuck you, you shady bitch.


licious said...

Ugh...some people. I'm glad you posted this. Let it out! I'm glad that you stood up for yourself. It was so great to see you. :)

Jay said...

it was great to see you too, licious! let's do it again, soon.

kg said...

girl i wish i was on that plane with you.

Sky said...

narsty. then for me there's this whole added layer of cultural shit and feet being an avenue of respect or disrespect. It's disrespectful to touch your feet to someone, to show your feet to god, etc; you touch the feet of elders and gods to show respect and take blessings. that's why this kind of shit always carries EVEN MORE...

giles said...

white people. always running to jump on some bullshit.

Anonymous said...

hi jamilah,
im hella sorry about this sh*t sister. the entitlement and thoughtlessness many white folks are raised with is violently, viciously disturbing & hurtful. i HELLA feel u on being a lover and not a fighter, and also feeling like people can sometimes see our kindess for weakness in this land where greed, selfishness and hate not only go unpunished, but are rewarded.

just wanna let u know i see u and i respect your spirit immensely. i encourage u to remember how important we "lovers" are ina world gone crazy, and that if we are to give up and join the babylon-side, they win and we lose. keep loving. keep writing. keep on being, Jay! from the looks of the responses above, it seems like u got enough fighter/lover homies to have your back should situations like this arise again. =) Have a beautiful weekend.

with deepest respect and gratitude,
your bro C+