Constance’s father and I discuss skin color continuously because strangers can’t stop reminding us about it.
The first time Constance’s father and I took a trip together, we went to Mexico. We were walking down a street that had restaurants and bars with a wall open to the gulf coast. Suddenly, a man came running out of a bar after me. He yelled to me, “I am English too! I am from Suffolk!” I kept walking. Constance’s father looked at me and teased, “Wow, all white people really do know each other.” I joked back, “Yeah, that’s the real reason that cities pay for stadiums. It’s where the white people hold their meetings.” We both laughed.
White men have taken my photograph without my permission when I’m with Constance’s father. It is a kind of objectification that never happens when I am alone. Men of color tend to make eye contact, give a head nod, and say “hey” to Constance’s father when they seem him. My impression is that he appreciates that. People like being seen in a way that is based on mutual respect.
For Constance, being seen was complicated by people who avert their gaze when they look at a person with a disability. Constance’s appearance and behaviors meant that people didn’t know what her background was or what her challenges where. She was triply invisible or policed depending on the stranger.
Knowing that there are people out there who read this blog makes me feel seen and less alone. Thank you.