Sunday, August 5, 2007

Express On the Way Up

See, here is the thing. Every time I make a post about how our team is doing, we immediately go the other direction. This is by far the streakiest team I have ever been a part of. We will win three in a row, then drop three of our next four. We will play well for a week, and then begin to resemble the Bad News Bears. It's incredible. I mean, I feel like we are really riding an Express train, which has evidently turned into a tumultuous roller coaster ride. So I say this with much hesitation...wait for it...we have won two in a row. Our record has improved to 12-18 and we are comfortably sitting in 4th place. With only twelve games left until the playoffs begin, we have pretty much cemented ourselves in the 4th vs. 5th seed game. But, as this whole paragraph implies, who really knows?

There is one topic that I have been meaning to write about lately. It is concerning discrimination in Israel. You see, in Israel, and more specifically on the campus where we live, there are many nationalities. Among them are Ethiopian Jews. They are descendants of Be'er Sheba, an Ethiopian queen who heard about the wisdom that good 'ole King Solomon provided and decided to take advantage of his services, in more ways than one. The two eventually wed and so began a lineage of Ethiopian Jews. While here, I have befriended two of them, both women, and at one point even asked them to come out with us for a night on the town. Everything was great until we arrived at our destination, a bar/dance club called Golina located at the port in Tel Aviv. When we got to the entrance, my friends and I were let in without hesitation, but when the girls got to the front, they were stopped faster than a yellow Ferrari traveling 140 mph. I could not understand what the problem was. These were beautiful women who wanted to enter a club. What was the issue?
After immediately leaving, one of the girls, Hadas, explained to me the bigotry and racism that plagues the dark black-skinned population in Israel on a daily basis. She told me that black people were not allowed in certain clubs, were not treated well in restaurants, and didn't have all of the opportunities as other Israeli's. I couldn't believe it. I felt like I was having a conversation in Mobile, Alabama in 1956. Amazingly, white Israeli's have no problems hiding their feelings.
On Friday night, some friends and I went our for Sushi, and after, visited Hadas at her work. She is a bartender at a bar called "R and B" in the outskirts of Tel Aviv. When we asked our white waitress at the sushi bar if she had ever been, she gave us a look of discontent right out of hell. "I would never go there, it's not for people like me," she said. Well, I had no idea what she was talking about until we got there.
The dimly lit "R and B" sign was only visible as we pulled up to the joint. When we got to the door, three out of shape security guards quickly folded their arms and protruded their chests at us. Only until I talked to the third one was I able to convey the message that as four white men, we meant no harm and were only there to visit our friend. As we entered and passed through two more security guards, a metal detector, and another guard at the top of the stairs, it dawned on me that we probably weren't their regular customers. This was an Ethiopian club, with no white people in sight. Nevertheless, we entered reluctantly and found a table.
For the next hour, I felt more uncomfortable than a whore in church at the Vatican. We received more looks than Pamela Anderson would walking down Santa Monica Blvd. Except our looks were those of confusion and assumption, not of content. We were the big elephant in the middle of the room. When I eventually tried to start a conversation with one of the girls in the club, I was brushed off like paint on a canvas. It was incredible. People would point, stare, and point again. I'm talking reverse racism at its finest. After two rounds we couldn't handle it anymore so I said goodbye to my bartender friend and we left. But not before the security guard at the top of the stairs attempted to prevent us from leaving for another half hour.
Looking back on this experience, I'm not quite sure how to and/or from which angle I should look at it. Is this how black people in the states feel on an everyday basis when among a room full of white people? Were we just getting the treatment that Ethiopian Jews get when they attempt to enter a white club in Tel Aviv? Or did we just come on a bad night? Either way, I can now add prejudiced to my list of emotions felt.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow.. incredible post jess.. miss you and i cant wait to see you in 2 weeks when you finally come home. love you