This was the topic of a 20-hour block seminar this weekend. 15 one-hour student presentations. I’m wiped. We all are. Yesterday most of us went to bed before 22.30. My presentation went ok – my first presentation using Prezi, so that impressed most people. I don’t wanna talk about the two profs at all cos I’ve ranted enough about them this weekend.
At the bus stop a stranger also waiting for the bus asked, ‘Darf ich Ihnen etwas fragen?’ – Am I allowed to ask you something? Such politeness is rare, and he struck me as a very conscientious young man. Prefacing a question with such a question naturally hinted that he wanted to ask something personal. And it was obvious what it would be, so I said yes. He wanted to know where I was from, and when I said ‘Aus Kanada,’ his face registered a little surprised and he said, ‘Oh, I would have thought China or something.’ We chatted a bit on the bus, just about what we were both doing in Hamburg, and as I climbed out of the bus he bade me a friendly ‘Have fun!’
Nicest Hamburger stranger I’ve met thus far, probably!
Then just before I got home a man stopped me on the sidewalk with a polite ‘Entschuldigung…’ to ask for directions to the main station. That was really awesome… when people on campus and the streets hand out flyers and ask if you want to subscribe to a newspaper, every time I walk past them I dread both that they will hand a flyer or try to talk to everyone else rushing past them except me. Because there is some probability that they ignore me because I look Asian and therefore probably don’t speak German. Of course, it’s perfectly possible that just by random selection that they didn’t ask me. But, as an interview on racial discrimination so rightly put, random acts of violence (to take one example of a random act) are put down to random by people in the majority. A white person who is the victim of such an act will put it down to just that: random. A racialised/non-white/minority person, on the other hand, who is the victim of the same act has a mental checklist of reasons why it may have happened to them. Could it be because I’m gay? Because I’m black? Because I’m muslim?
So yes, when someone doesn’t hand me a flyer when they’re handing one out to every single person walking by them on the street, I might put it down to my race. I entertain the possibility.
That’s why I’m so happy when strangers stop me to ask for directions.
So yeah, two good things happening this evening. But for some reason I feel like shit. I think it’s cos the professor I talked to about the seminar paper basically said I’m not very familiar with axiomatic methods. And he’s right, I’m not… compared to an economics student. But compared to the average PEP student, I’m not too shabby. I’m not taking offense… just a little hurt, is all. I thought I did a pretty good job on the presentation.
So I feel like shit, but have to go to a classmate’s place to socialise. Normally I’d just bail, but I not only told a bunch of people I’d be there, but CONFIRMED it with three people (including the host) within the past hour. Damn it.