Saturday, March 03, 2007

The National Brotherhood of Skiiers

I forgot to mention that after all of the lily white skiiers from Westchester, Fairfield County and Manhattan left Steamboat (except for us and the other stragglers who had originally planned to leave for the East Coast on Sunday, when the airports decided that there would be no flights to the East Coast on Sunday), Steamboat became the site of the 2007 Summit of the National Brotherhood of Skiiers.

I have to be honest, it never occurred to me until Sunday, that as a general matter, I never see anyone of color on the slopes. And I mean, literally, never. As in, not a single person who doesn't look like me, albeit taller. So, I was quite taken aback when starting on Saturday, I began to see, here and there, a number of extremely well-dressed (think Spyder, rather than Columbia, if you are a skiier) skiiers with skin the color of coffee. By Sunday, the mountain had, I believe (or so I was told) fourteen-hundred (1400) NBS'ers from all over the country, and I believe, a good number of members of related and partner-clubs from other countries. Or so the backpacks and jacket logos would indicate.

Since Presidents Week was over, Steamboat was relatively quiet. Thus, it was an interesting reversal for me and my friends. We found ourselves, in most instances, among a racial minority (albeit temporary and circumstantial). Quite possibly, we were also among an economic minority as well, being possibly among the least monied people on the mountain. On a shuttle bus back from Steamboat's downtown, we found ourselves in the midst of a boisterous crowd of NBS members. The loudest of all was a very well-dressed man with very large lips and a very thick London accent. He turned to me and asked me where I was from. When I got around to telling him that I lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, he raised an eyebrow and cracked, "Oh, you mean where all the rich white folks live!"

I pondered it. I had no sparkly comeback. I fumbled about and said that some poor white folks live here too. Then I felt vaguely embarassed.

Why was I trying to smooth over a racial slur made against myself?

That was the question to which I still have no answer.



Anonymous said...

How does "rich white folks" translate as a racial slur? Obnoxious, maybe, but a racial slur???

If that's your idea of a racial slur, well, I'm kind of amazed. You're lucky you're white, because I don't think you could handle being non-white.

Sorry, I don't mean to attack you, really, I don't, but to think this might be your first time on "the other side", and you react like this? Interesting, isn't it?

Debpc said...

I think it was his attempt to show off his knowledge about NYC.

"YC" said...

You know, I really don't think that I was reacting in a big way or feeling victimized in a major way. I am simply acknowledging how I have some knee-jerk belief that I have to accept certain behaviors from persons in minorities that I would never expect to be accepted BY those persons in those minorities.

Anonymous said...

I understand what you are saying, but frankly as a white woman you are a member of a majority race in this country-- despite being jewish or not unfortunately. Jews have had to deal with an incredible amount of discrimination in this country as well but at the same time folks of jewish orgin can sometimes blend in more with the majority just because of this stupid thing this country has about color. The comment that the guy made was a pretty big stereotype-- but a true one in a lot of respects. If you ever feel that someone has said something to you that is racist you should open a dialogue and speak up. Perhaps he didn't mean it the way that you took it and maybe he would have apologized if he had known that you felt slightly insulted by it.

Black people that ski are usually a pretty smart bunch of folks who would probably be open for discussion/friendly debate. It might be a different situation if you heard that comment said to you somewhere in the heart of the ghetto. Holding your tongue would let you know what it felt like for a lot of black folks who grew up in the south....

I think you did the best you could in that situation since it sounds like it took you off guard with not enough time to react in a way you would have liked.

Welcome to what it feels like to be
brown in america. I can't begin to tell you how many wierd stereotypical things are said to me as a brown person on a pretty regular basis. It's pretty scary in 2007!!!! Even in the yoga community--which if you haven't noticed is still pretty undiverse--especially ashtanga. Though maybe your studio is different being in NYC where there are so many cultures?

anyway, nice post.

Anonymous said...

wow. a "racial slur"?
the guy was only speaking an New York truth. welcome to the real world.

"YC" said...

So, if I said to him, "Yes, it's just south of where the poor, black folks livfe" that would have been okay?

Anonymous said...

sure. i've heard worse.theres truth to even that comment. sad commentary on america.

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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