I was going to turn this into a rant about all the crazy things the police have been up to recently. But I decided to save that for later. Here's a few thoughts about racism instead. I recently filed a report on insulting behaviour, as well as for petty theft, against one of our regulars - likely the most criminally active elderly woman in the country. I've arrested her countless times before all across town, and usually she doesn't say much at all - but this time, she was apparently in a bad enough mood to make more than a couple of offensive statements regarding the shade of my skin. The police officers who arrived at the scene were also in a good enough mood to crank the charges up to molestation, which is a much more severe crime. Now, formally speaking, I actually am white. I have in my possession a copy of my birth certificate, of which I also keep a photo in my phone. Basically, what it certifies is that having been born right at the end of a military dictatorship, in a country with a history of racial segregation (as well as miscegenation, of course) arguably more severe than even the US, I actually qualify as a white guy. I also told the aforementioned arrestee this very fact, to which she responded that I "wasn't white in her eyes". I can't really say that I'm surprised, but I truly am surprised sometimes at how people can't just open their eyes and see what's right in front of them. These days, whenever I'm asking for something in a store, or ordering something at a restaurant, I usually have to repeat myself, sometimes two or three times. It doesn't matter if I'm buying clothes in a hipster-infested inner city neighborhood, or ordering shawarma out somewhere in a random suburban ghetto - people always seem to have a hard time hearing what I say. You'd think that this has something to do with me speaking too quickly or having a slurred speech pattern of some sort, if it wasn't for two simple facts - one; I never have this problem with people who know me, and two; I never have this problem when talking on the phone - not even when I'm talking to a complete stranger for the first time ever. The simple explanation to this phenomenon, is that when people see me, they expect me to sound like Achmed the Dead terrorist whenever I'm talking, or someone who regularly gets the crap beaten out of him by Jack Bauer in defense of freedom and democracy. When I don't, they simply can't believe or fathom what they're actually hearing me say. Adding to this is the fact that I regularly get mistaken for a professional thief myself - even in stores where I've worked for years. It's especially prevalent around May and June, when most stores hire new, younger employees to compensate for the regular staff going on vacation. The strange thing however, is that this wasn't nearly as common before 2011 as it is now. And more often than not, it's blonde girls around 20 that seem to be the most suspicious of me...despite the fact that I've always put in effort to dress and carry myself in a completely different manner than most guys from the Middle East and North Africa do around here. (Which includes two of my four former bosses, I might add.) What my job boils down to a lot of the time is being prejudiced as all hell about other people based on looks alone. But I really do believe that I've managed fairly well to shape my prejudice into something of a precision tool. Whenever you tell people that you feel Pac and Biggie to be two of the most overrated rappers of all time, there are usually two possible outcomes. One is that people will pick a fight with you. The second goes somewhere along the lines of "yeah, well, maybe Pac wasn't the most talented rapper out there, but he possessed an unique ability to describe 'the pain', you know, the anguish of being a victim of institutionalized racism all your life and having to live as a thug to make ends meet and being screwed over for life by the system and Dear Mama and blah blah blah blah..." Well, even if that were true I'd still call him overrated, but I can definitely agree on the idea of "the pain". Take, for instance, the previous resident of the apartment which I now inhabit. Despite him being a black man from Baltimore with an almost uncanny resemblance to a young OJ Simpson, there is no way in hell I would ever have scoped him out for more than a second if I had ever encountered him while on the job. Everything about him just exudes kindness and harmony in a way that is quite rare to see these days, even among people born into far more well-off families than he was. Happy and content people don't steal stuff - that much I feel like I can state with certainty, what with something like 5 000 arrests under my belt. But once you've learned to recognize "the pain", you're able to identify it in people from all conceivable walks of life. It manifests differently in people of different ethnicities and/or social classes, but at the core it remains the same - though I'm not always so sure if it's due to them feeling that society owes them something, or the other way around - that they feel that they don't owe society anything. I like to think that this would be a completely different world, if people in general took the time out to actually observe others before passing judgement on them. It's the small details that enable you to tell apart the true manipulative psychopath from the fundamentally decent guy who was dealt a bad hand by life. As it is, however, it seems that this digitalized age has made it increasingly difficult for people sitting behind their screens all day to actually see the discrepancy between what people say they are, and what they really are. "I'm a good person", the bad person says. And everyone else just says "Ok! Who's hungry? I'm making pork sliders!" Or as En Vogue once put it, "before you can read me you've got to learn how to see me."