The races tend not to look at each other in public places full frontally in the United States, certainly in large coastal cities.
In the small towns and villages surrounding Philadelphia, everyone looks at everyone, it seems to me.
My own colleagues of long standing have passed by me on the street without looking at me or greeting me. The only thing they noted was the colour of my skin (‘black’) and my position relative to theirs on the pavement.
Some of my neighbours, likewise. Except those who were not born in the United States: they greet me.
I Refuse to Be Invisible, 2011, acrylic, charcoal, and xerox transfer on paper.
Njideka Akynyili Crosby, American born Nigeria 1983. Photo from the net
I am not speaking of friends. Friendship, I suppose, has the exact same characteristics everywhere in the world.
This is not to say that the races in north America do not see each other. In a public place, everyone notes exactly where everyone is with special attention to race.
Just in case something untoward happens and everyone has to flee…….
Die. American People Series #20, oil on canvas, 1967, and details.
Faith Ringgold, born 1930, American. MOMA, NY
Attentive human presence being the most vivifying of Sapiens’ gifts, the negative consequences of this seeing-not-looking can be imagined for those too young, too angry to know that this is not to be taken personally.
It speaks to a history not fully acknowledged in present conduct.
Visible because invisible and vice versa.
Sometimes when I am tired of all this, I wear a burqa and go out.
I become both anonymous and visible.
So enjoyable. Sensuous to be enveloped in that soft silkiness.
A grill over the eyes, heavily kohled, of course, to see and not be seen: like a secret power.
But then, of course, the enjoyment is also because I don’t have to wear a burqa.
The proprietor of this blog in an Afghani burqa
There has been a change in the generations of the Millenials and Generation Y. Many of them both see and look and often greet.
We shall see.