Sunday, June 06, 2004

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

I just went to the gym for the first time in almost three weeks; it was my first full workout in two weeks. Ahhhhh. The world is right again. I feel 100% better. I didn't do a full workout, I did 30 min elliptical, 15 min running, 5 min cool down, and 2 sets of 10 reps biceps and triceps. I didn't want to run for too long because I'm afraid that I'll be too sore to workout again tomorrow. I tried to actually join the gym, which isn't that great but it is right down the street, but the woman at the desk had no idea what to do and referred me to the "membership coordinator" who will call me tomorrow morning. Well I sure hope so.
Ok, so just now, the fire alarm started going off. A few people trickled outside, everyone else apparently just sat and waited for the annoying alarm to stop. Once we got outside, everyone got in their cars and drove away. It was amusing. No one wanted to stand outside like a tool so everyone just took a drive. Ha.

Friday, only myself and one other intern were in the office for the last few hours of the day. We headed out early because we had accomplished the discrete tasks that we were capable of doing ourselves without the supervision of the attorney. Thus, I was able to make it back into the city for happy hour. Happy hour is the thing to do here. This is new for me. I met up with my friend K, who lives near Marine barracks. yum. She told me that one particular outdoor-seating bar is generally crawling with young recruits, but oh no, it had to rain and no one was in the bar. Oh well! Merriment ensued nonetheless. We had $3 mojitos (mmmmm) and fried calamari and hushpuppies. So very, very good. Then we walked past the Marine barracks on our way back to her house. Apparently, the Marines have a parade in their little courtyard area every Friday during the summer, which explained why the sidewalks were teeming with people and why, every 15 feet, there was a Marine welcoming us to the barracks. Oh, those dress uniforms are to die for. So hot. Because it was drizzling, two Marines offered to give us an umbrella escort to the end of the block. How sweet. K's Marine was all flirty, and mine was old and stodgy. K has a girlfriend! This is unfair! I want the flirty Marine!! He was hot, too. Gosh, I love this city. $3 mojitos and Marine escorts.

On my way back from K's house, I passed a group of young white kids, one of whom had an "Ithaca is Gorges" t-shirt. I saw another one today, actually. Oh, how I love those shirts. Feels like home. It made me so happy to see it. Then, about a block further down, I passed a cop car that had a black male pinned to it, while the police officer was rummaging through a wallet. I had to stare. One thing that has become abundantly clear to me in the two weeks that I've been here is that there is overwhelming, so-thick-you-could-cut-it-with-a-knife, racism in this city. I'm delighted to be here because of the diversity it offers. I grew up among very diverse populations as an Air Force brat. My family's best friends were two black families. My first two boyfriends were black. There was an overwhelming Vietnamese population in one of the cities I lived in, and I was friends with many Vietnamese girls in my class. My 6th grade math teacher had one arm. I grew up accustomed to accepting people's differences. I moved to NH while I was in junior high, and managed to avoid encountering the social stratification regarding race that occurs, presumably, in high school, when all of those random social rules start to appear. So, re-entering a diverse population, I'm entering with the same idealist, "we're all just part of the human race," 12 year old mentality. My understanding of race and social interactions has been stunted at sixth grade. At first I thought that it hindered me, as I have a lot to learn as to what is expected of me in interactions. However, having to witness the rampant racism and appalling segregation in this city, I think that my ignorance as to these realities might serve to benefit me. It angers me to see that this is the way things are, but I'm so deeply appreciative of the opportunity to immerse myself in a diverse client population, a diverse citizenry, and a diverse summer class. Despite my struggle with the guilt of white privilege, I think it's going to be difficult to leave this community at the end of the summer. It's already hard for me to leave the kids at the end of the day.

Anyway, having spent two weeks being trained in regards to criminal defense, and having witnessed firsthand the effects of racism in the criminal system, I was immediately suspicious of the incident that I witnessed. I, of course, was ready to walk up to the officer and demand the basis of probable cause. I got caught staring, probably because I had slowed down to try to eavesdrop on the conversation, so I just went on my way. Two weeks ago, I wonder if I would have been as suspicious of the detention/arrest that I witnessed.

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