Chinks II: Food Stamps

April 1, 2009 | By | Reply More

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Which reminds me: I was getting a pedicure. I know, so decadent (for a poverty lawyer, teehee), but I was, in this Vietnamese joint, tiny like a hallway lined with big massage chairs. A dangerously overweight, black woman walked in. No, she lumbered in with her handbag at her side, looking tired of lumbering. Titters from the nail-doers. Manicurists, I guess. They’d noticed her too: first the weight, then the skin color. Or perhaps I’m projecting. In any case, they beckoned her to a chair, malignant smiles aglow like jack-o-lanterns, and she quietly succumbed to the growing twitters, over-generous, nonsensical verbal massaging, and I cringed. I cringed visibly. I said nothing.

They asked her if she exercised often. They asked if she had a job. For many years, she said. Yes. “Food stamps? Are you on food stamps?” they asked. No, she said quietly. She was not receiving food stamps, and had never, in her life, benefited from food stamps. By now, she’d noticed me staring. I was. I was staring at her – and with her- at us in these ridiculous chairs, prisoners of racists. I could tell the woman picking at my toenails to give it a rest, put my shoes on, pay the bill, tell them all off and leave. Or I could sit there quietly and smile sympathetically at this dangerously overweight black woman who knew, I hoped, that I knew that I was a coward. She smiled at me.


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Category: Bigotry, Uncategorized

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Zoevinly is a poverty lawyer practicing in the bible belt.

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