The Ebony Alert
One night after my cardio hip hop class, I decide to run into my neighborhood grocery store for a cup of lentil soup. I’m still wearing my sweat-soaked Lululemon gear. While I’m standing in line to check out, the “gentleman” behind me decides to strike up a conversation…
Gentleman: “Hey, Fitness Body. If you keep it up, your body is going to be just right by July…July-August.”
I guess I should be flattered because at least he didn’t say, “November…November-December” or “With a few more years of hard work, a trainer, and a good surgeon…”
Gentleman: “You look great.” Rubbing his round belly, “I need to get myself together too.”
I just stare at him, which is obviously a sign that he should continue:
Gentleman: “By the way, what side of 3rd St. do you live on?”
Me: “Why, [serial killer]?”
Gentleman: “Because if you lived on this side of 3rd, I would have seen you before.”
(He’s clearly one of those self-appointed “I’m the mayor of these three blocks” types.)
A few days later, I’m reading a book and drinking my green juice on the patio of the same grocery store where “July-August-gate” occurred when a man yells at me from the passenger seat of a car that is sitting at the light…
Concerned Citizen: “WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT OBAMA RELEASING THOSE SIX MASS MURDERERS INTO COMPTON?”
He has a very “Tea Party/Westboro Baptist” tone.
Driver: “Leave her alone.”
Concerned Citizen: “Whaaat? She might have something to say about it!”
What’s happening, world? I’m just trying to drink my green juice.
A week later, I’m accosted at my neighborhood grocery store yet again. (Clearly, I need to shop elsewhere.) This time it’s by a Ugandan taxi driver who is standing in line paying for his groceries when I walk in. When he sees me, he hops out of line before getting his change and runs over to introduce himself.
He wants me to know, among other things, all of the following:
– the benefits of veganism
– the surprising number of male prostitutes in Atlanta
– how black women in LA only date white men (* crickets *)
– that Whole Foods has gone to the dogs, and
– Jesus is an illusion.
He also complained that black women don’t speak to him. (I’m thinking, I didn’t speak to you either.)
But when he asked me…
Crazy Nutjob: “When did you move to the neighborhood? I’ve never seen you before…”
It hit me.
I must be the only black woman living within a 1-mile radius.
I knew shit was strange when I moved into my new apartment building a few months ago, and I was the only woman or person of color that I saw in my building for weeks. It felt like I moved into the set of The Mindy Project.
But when I thought about it, I realized that I haven’t really seen any other black women in my neighborhood in the three months that I’ve lived here.
Apparently, as a black woman, I’m so rare a find in my neighborhood that people can loosely approximate when I arrived.
And my neighbors are all like, “WE GOT ONE!”
Unfortunately, I don’t suffer from bitchy resting face.
I have a penchant for conducting all of my affairs in Lululemon yoga pants.
And although I wouldn’t describe myself as friendly, evidently I have a welcoming disposition, as evidenced by all of the people who feel welcomed to approach me.
As a result, my neighbors are like, This is our chance to cast all of our hopes, dreams, and fears upon her! We’re finally going to get to lay our burdens down – everything we’ve been wanting to ask and meaning to say: “Who do you date?” “How often do you work out?” “What do you call your hair?” “What do you think about [various Obama Administration policies]?” “Can you sing because my band is looking for black backup singers who have a Motown sound?” (These are actual questions. All of them.)
Once I was sitting at a coffee shop waiting for my carry out order to be ready when a white woman started waving aggressively at me as she approached.
Me: “Umm, I think you’re looking for someone else…”
Tacky Woman: “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were my friend…The friend I’m meeting is black.”
This lady was so confident that there wasn’t more than one black woman in my neighborhood that she literally ignored her own two eyes.
Apparently, she didn’t receive the Ebony Alert1 on her phone that another black woman had moved into the neighborhood.
It’s like every day with this shit.
A young white dude yells at me from his car window as I’m walking to church, “HEY! You’re beautiful!”
An old black guy wants me to have his number just because it “just seems appropriate” that he should know me.
When I’m wearing one of my pink Lululemon running jackets, multiple white women stop me to say, “Great jacket…Not everyone can pull that off!” I’m thinking, I’m wearing a pink running jacket, not this:
One time, a blind white lady holding a white cane in the locker room at my gym asked me what products I use in my hair…
Chick, I thought you were blind.
It gets even wilder when I’m hanging out in my neighborhood with a girlfriend who generally fits my same description. Then there are TWO black women in my neighborhood. And folks lose their collective shit. Strangers want to hold court. Drinks are on the house. People send over food. Once it was a bowl of pasta compliments of some dude who had a girlfriend but wished he could hang out with us because we looked like so much fun. Restaurant owners, managers, and staff walk us out and wave from the curb as we drive away.
C’mon, team. CALM YOURSELVES.
My life has become a never-ending string of awkward pick up attempts, inappropriate questions, weird and offensive compliments, and random free shit.
Under different circumstances, I guess maybe someone “might could” find all of this attention flattering. I don’t.
However, to clear up any confusion, I think my Neighborhood Association should disseminate an Ebony Alert to every resident’s cell phone any time a new black woman moves into the neighborhood. The emergency notification should be complete with the new black woman’s name, picture, and whether or not she’s interested in being approached:
For those who missed the reference, an “Ebony Alert” is a term that I just made up as a play on the “Amber alert system,” the U.S. emergency response system that disseminates information about a missing person (usually a child) by media broadcasting, electronic roadway signs, and/or alerts sent directly to the cell phones of residents in a particular geographic region. ↩