Conversations Across the Racial Divide

“Well it was cuz the court said so. I was 17, and we had a record at that point, so that sealed the deal. It took like 6 months to get out.”

“Woah! You had a record? That’s so cool! At such a young age, too. What kind of music was it?”

“Hah. Um, well, you know, a lot of people just assume that we were rappers. That’s just what people assume when they see us. But they’re wrong. We’re jazz musicians. Free jazz.”

“Oh, cool! What instruments did you play?”

“Well, I played the knife-“

“The knife? What kind of instrument is that?”

“And my brother played the ski mask. We usually played liquor stores in East Oakland. We got really popular.”

“What?”

***

“So I guess I’m getting on disability, too.”

“What! No way, that’s great! Are you going to get one of those little handicap placards, too, so you can get hella close parking?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe.”

“I had one of those when I busted my knee. It was hella cool, and all I thought was, ‘This must be what white privilege is like.’ I just cut to the front of the line every time, just like white people get to do all the time. Man, it was nice being white.”

***

“Why don’t you like that bar?”

“That bar was built by rich, white out of towners for other rich, white out of towners. And now rich, white out of towners are congregating in Downtown, and the rich, white out of towners are getting richer.”

“But the out of towners are bringing money to Oakland.”

“Nah, you know, these rich people got a grant from the City to build this bar, and they came in without any concern for the locals and the local community. It’s a colonial outpost that is actively working against the local black and brown community. And they’re getting rich doing it.”

“Fuck yeah, they’re gonna get rich doing it. I mean, I wouldn’t mind being that guy, making all that money.”

“But you never will be, because you’re not white. You’re Mexican, and you’ll always be Mexican.”

“No way, I could make that money. I could own that bar, and other bars, and I’d show them. I’d just do what the white people do. But still be Mexican.”

“Yeah. That’s what [local Mexican bar owner] did, and we fucking love him because he’s a part of the community and he gives back to the community. And he’s the exact opposite of a white, rich out of towner, so, yeah, you’ll never be that rich, white, out of town bar owner.”