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Wednesday, November 17, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 62

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Racism -- another reason to get a car

By Duy Dao

If there's one thing I've learned about Houston, it's this: Get a car. There are so many places to explore, but if you don't drive, expect delays.

I'm just one of a growing breed of dorm residents who rely on public transportation to get around. Anticipating rides from friends is tiresome, and besides, I like to test the waters. I know that Metro is the way to go if you can spare $2.

My Russian friend and I walked down Wheeler Street. the other day -- past smelly animal carcasses and last week's crime scene -- and stood by the signpost for the 42. The schedule said 7:25, and it was exactly 7:18. Seven minutes to go.

Thirty minutes later, I'm sitting on the ground smoking my fourth cigarette and pulling weeds out of the grass. My friend, who doesn't normally smoke, is asking me for a cigarette out of boredom.

I tell him, "Hey, let's start walking toward Scott Street. and hopefully the bus will catch us on the way."

We proceed to take a left on Scott and catch the 52 instead of the 42. We walk past leery glances, keeping wary of the situations we might come across. Night is closing in, and two foreigners in the Third Ward are deep in cracktown.

My Russian friend is quite eccentric. With his limited English, he manages to take clique verbal threats and ad-libs them with his own personal touch.

"If we get jumped, I'm going to kick the living crap out of his eyeballs," he would exclaim. "I'll rip his nose down and feed it to my dog like soup".

Continuing on, we get about four blocks down Scott before we find the next bus stop. Three young men gaze at us suspiciously and we mind our own business. This is, after all, a public place.

The bus finally pulls in and the three men rudely push us aside to ensure first dibs on seating. Pointless, considering all the seats were occupied and even finding a pole to grab onto was unlikely.

The real excitement came when we made our entrance. All eyes were on us. I felt like a stuffed pig rotating on a shish kebab stick.

We weren't exactly riding the peace train. To be quite frank, there were a lot of people on the bus who had a problem with our not being black.

Before someone thinks I have racial inclinations, let me just say that it didn't bother me at first. What bothers me is when you are made to feel different because of your color. I'm just riding the bus like everybody else who can't afford a vehicle. Poverty does not discriminate!

I have lived in poor neighborhoods all my life, and yet people have treated me like dirt. I don't understand why I can't go shopping nearby when I live on campus.

Anyway, we get to the transit station, and after the passengers stop assaulting us with their eyes, we proceed to get off the bus. A man nudges me on the way out as if to give me fair warning: You're on our turf now!

My views on racism are just as extreme as anyone who has ever felt persecuted. I believe there is hate brewing in our country, but I want to dispel the notion that it should be directed toward innocent people.

Go back in time to Montgomery, Ala., Dec. 1. A black woman, exhausted from a long work day, sits in a bus. A white passenger steps on and demands that she give up her seat. When she refuses, she is arrested because she stood her ground.

To me, this woman is a symbol of courage. She made it possible for others to refute racism. When I stepped on that bus, I could sympathize with her. In a sense, I was her.
 

Dao, a senior media production major,
can be reached at Dweevil@hotmail.com.
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