His name is Kalim. Isn't he cute? I was babysitting him during the day while his Mama got some work done, and decided to take him for a walk in his stroller around Lake Merrit. Then I remembered the Oakland "bird sanctuary" (pigeon slum) on the south side of the path and decided the risk of bird flu was much too high. It would be even better to walk him over to Lakeshore Avenue, where I could obtain both a giant piece of pizza and a hearty sense of accomplishment.
As I wheeled the stroller through a small crowd of people taking in the oboe stylings of a one-legged clown and past the hoards of jobless coffee sippers in front of Peet's, I noticed that some people were looking at me funny. Not "so, you're a stripper" funny, but a weird, eye-darting puzzlement that slowly dissolved into a glare. I put on my large pink sunglasses so I could observe undetected.
A man craned his neck to see in the stroller, but was trying not to look obvious about it, so I just halted right in front of him and fake pushed a bunch of buttons on my phone. Don't mind me, just sending a very important text message to the Viceroy of Guam! lmk if u want me 2 pick up knishes for tuesday potluck bingo nite. The man looked at Kalim sleeping in the stroller, then up at me. Then he looked at my... hand? What was he looking for, a ring? Finally, the glare. I walked passed the bagel shop. Same deal, but a woman, this time. Stroller, me, ring finger. Duuuude... it suddenly dawned on me that people thought Kalim was my interracial love child. And they were totally offended! Oh man, this was gonna be an awesome walk. I sighed dramatically and pushed the hood back a few inches on the stroller so passers-by could get a better look at Kalim's mini-halfro.
Many years ago, when Rodney King was still wearing Grant Hill Filas, I jumped into a garbage truck to escape the special school for wayward girls I was attending and hitchhiked to Oakland. It was here I befriended a "living statue" named Kevin. When he took off his silver body paint at night, he became just another a black man in duct tape overalls and silver glitter hi-tops, carrying a jeweled ghetto blaster. We were walking down the street together one evening and noticed that all these black chicks were staring at us, looking displeased.
"What gives?" I asked.
"Well, you know... they're upset seeing us together. There's not a lot of good black men out there, and they don't want to see any of them fall into the wrong hands."
"Good?" I scoffed. "I was thinking it was because I'm so much better looking than you."
Well, it turns out we were both right. I can't WAIT to take Kalim for another Lakeshore stroll. I still have some food stamps leftover from my brief commitment to an urban yurt collective back in 2005, and I'm going to conspicuously take them out of my Lewis Vuittron wallet to pay for my pizza. Hopefully, there will be a long line of good black men behind me. That's what she said! JENNI, OUT!
2 months ago