Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Do we really look alike?



When I first arrived in Sacramento, I was mistaken for an aspiring politician running for political office in San Francisco. Before she went so far as to offer up the microphone to let me speak at an event, I had to pull her aside every so subtly and inform her that this was a classic case of mistaken identity. Her response:

"Damn, well you know us Black folks all look alike..."

My response: nervous laughter.

A few weeks ago, I was approached at the copy machine in the hallway and asked a few questions about some random issue. I had never worked on the issue before. I will probably never work on the issue in the future. I asked the young lady who she thought I was. Her response:

"Eric."

My response: "Nope, he's not me and I'm not him. I'm Dontae. But it's a pleasure to meet you anyway."

She felt awkward. But I began to worry. Do Black people all really look alike?



The same thing has been said many times over about all other groups of people. White people all look alike. Brown people all look alike. Yellow people all look alike. You name a type of people and I can guarantee you that others will say that they all look alike.

But as these repeat offenses continue to take place, I am growing increasingly concerned. I need reader feedback on this one.

1) Do Black people all really look alike?
2) If so, what can I do to make myself look more distinct?
3) Why the heck can't people just air on the side of caution and refrain from sparking up conversations with people if they aren't 100% certain of their identity?

I'll be looking forward to your responses.

1 comment:

Andy Orin said...

guess what? races are identifiable by slight physiognomical distinctions. can you tell if someone is asian? yes, because asian people (i'm thinking towards the eastern side of asia) have uniquely shaped eyes and faces. likewise, can you tell if someone is from india? mexico? sweden? you could sure wager a guess... because people of a specific race ALL LOOK ALIKE! to some degree. and it's likely easier for people to identify the subtleties within one's own group and typical to stereotype the distinct traits of other groups. there's nothing inherently offensive about it.

personally, i'm a lovely cafe au lait of various races.