The Negro Made Becky Drop Her Latte
“And then this,” she takes a pause to scan who’s in earshot before lowering her voice to say the word, “Black,” and immediately continues at her normal speech level, “Guy…bumped into Ashley and knocked her latte out of her hand.”
This Georgia girl and I had been flirting, as best as I could figure it, at this rooftop birthday party in Greenpoint. When we first started talking about 15 minutes ago, I opened with my usual, “Yeah, I might vote for Trump” to gauge what kind of guilty white person I was dealing with. However, instead of the usual look of abject horror that rips across liberal white girls face’s when I say that, I found…curiosity.
Now, to be clear, she says she, “abhors Trump,” but as she’s relating this tale of the black man knocking her friend’s latte out of her hand I find it’s delivered with an antebellum entitlement that makes me glad we’re not within jogging distance of the Mason-Dixon line. Her pompous authority, which is emboldened only by the Police State currently occupying New York City, tops any of the bigotry you’d find in your Trump headline du jour that we were all supposed to be outraged by. Her and all the other gentrifying rich kids from the middle-of-fucking-no-where-Ohio were doing far more damage to the black community than any redneck who felt slighted by 8 years of Jon Stewart could ever dream of.
But, She Felt the Burn: A cure all for the guilty liberal conscience.
“Can you believe that?” she repeats. “Bumped right into Ashley — -and you know what?”
“What?” I ask flatly, staring at her tits, sipping the watermelon jalapeño infused concoction being served from the Ikea drink thing.
“I walked right up to him and said, ‘Watch. Where. You’re. Going.” she says proudly.
As she’s finishing this tale and the skyline of midtown weeps in the distance, her friend standing beside her, also from Georgia, smiles politely without offering much to the story. It’s unclear what her politics are as she alternates between guffawing at a Trump presidency and making some, “Well, y’know” head nods. The main Georgia girl continues to rattle off her story and if she’d just throw the word Nigger in there at some point it’d feel a lot more complete. Unfortunately, she abstains. I feel cheated.
“If this was 15 years ago,” another sip of my cocktail. “He would of beaten, shot and raped you. In that order,” I say just as the conversational white noise of the party drops to zero, my words hanging in the air. I summon a smile to inject some levity. It has the opposite desired effect and the two girls drift over to the vegan pasta salad.
This party has been a series of conversations like this. These people getting hard-ons talking about real estate opportunities and how Harlem wasn’t “that bad anymore.” For approximately 25 years, I’d been humoring this Herculean level of delusion but I felt my human mask slipping. I used to be able to keep all this inside. Or more importantly, I just didn’t care about gentrification and social justice. Wasn’t my bag. My family was fine for the most part and the only people I knew who were “mistreated” by the police were assholes who deserved it. Selling crack to kids and saying despicable things to my female cousins as we’d walk past the bodega on 137th. But of course, this was before The Becky’s From Ohio so there were no cops to enforce the law. Just us. Now, as a Sophisticated Nigger with a few more miles of the odometer, I was realizing I had a responsibility to the family I didn’t much speak to anymore.
On the Uber ride home, my driver with a more than 4 syllable first name is playing some haunting Baroque era music. I’m slumped low into the back seat of the Prius, riding along I-278 and for a moment, between two warehouses, I see the Statue of Liberty flash before my eyes before disappearing again. We get off the highway and pull up in front of a new condo that has a Dippin’ Dots (the ice cream of the future) in the lobby and we wait for the fellow pool rider named “Kelsey.”
After several minutes, she still hasn’t arrived and the driver turns around to look at me and says in a thick Croat accent, “Out of information?”
“What?” I ask.
He points to his dashboard mounted Android phone. “Out, of information.”
“Oh,” I say. “We’re going somewhere else now.”