Thursday, April 13, 2006

racial profiling

Guess who likes my scooter best besides me? No, not indie boys or sporty dykes, or even full on vespa enthusiasts. Nope, the typical fan of my scooter is a 50 year old black male driving a conversion van. How do I know this? Because without fail, 99% of the time someone yells out to me while I am stopped at a red light, or parked in the gas station, it is a person who fits this description.

Seven years now I have been riding this bike and for seven years this maxim has held true. Last week it was a city worker who was driving a giant street cleaning machine by UDF. Liv and I pulled up to get gas and a middle aged black man yells to me over his roaring machine "where'd you get those bikes?" His vehicle was so loud I couldn't hear him, so he turned it off, took off his headphones and yelled again. We chatted for a few minutes, he cooed over the bikes and we went our separate ways.

Now, you might think as I have, that the shiny chrome or the fly white walls or the overall vintage styling of the scooter are the reasons that older black men like my bike so much. And that may be true because the line between a 1980 P200E and a 78 Cadillac are not that far off in terms of style.
But, the thing that fascinates me most about this re-curring experience is that I know there are plenty of indie boys and sporty dykes and hard core vespa enthusiasts who ooh and ahh over my bike from afar (the time I came out from a movie and found a woman straddling my bike while her boyfriend snapped pictures is proof enough), but the thing that makes it different is that the black men take the time to talk to me. Despite all the power of our everyday racisms that might keep an older black man from rolling up next to a white stranger on a scooter, it happens again and again, truly without fail. Sometimes it's ironic how life works.


pixelville said...

Damn. My girlfriend's smart.
(and she rides a scooter) :)

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