Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Racial Occurence I Noticed While Attending A Dinner Party...

On Tuesday evening I attended a dinner for accepted law students at the home of the Dean of Rutgers-Newark University (where I will be attending this fall). Since I arrived straight from work, my attire consisted of a suit and tie (blue suit, red tie. Refined, charming and sophisticated I must say, but I digress…).

I arrived at the home of the dean and found that I was not alone: many of the newly-minted JD candidates were funky fresh, dressed to impress, ready to party (or at least ready to dine and enjoy good conversation). To be specific, the black and latino candidates were the individuals clothed in their Sunday best, while most of the white candidates arrived in jeans, sneakers, and (gasp!) some even wore baseball caps. The best-dressed Caucasian individual wore wrinkled khakis and a white Izod shirt.

Does this mean that the white folks in attendance do not know the meaning of style? No, not at all. (Alert: generalization on the horizon) I know this because most of them used enough product in their hair to create a small hole in the ozone layer right above us. People who use product in their hair know style (or they at least know a version of style). Besides, their footwear was fashionable…

I believe that this episode in my life and times shows more about the respective approaches to law school. If I had to guess, those of us sporting minority status seemed less sure of ourselves (in general) entering law school than our white compatriots, and therefore felt the need to put our best foot forward, so to speak. This opinion is based both on conversations I overheard as well as the dress of everyone in attendance. This certainly does not suggest that one group is more intelligent than the other, nor does it propose one group wanting to succeed more than the other. It does point to a difference in confidence between the two.

Would you agree?

6 comments:

Brother Smartness said...

The real question is whether it would be possible for minority candidates to ever feel confident in a room with white counterparts. Even in a setting where minorities are dressed in formal attire, you concluded that those dressed to the nines lacked confidence and those that did not had an abundance of it. And interestingly enough, I would have thought the same exact thing.

But looking at the whole picture, I wonder when the time will come when minorities are comfortable in their/our own skin and unfettered by thoughts that diminish our sense of self worth.

Brother Lightness said...

Du Bois calls it "double consciousness": "“this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity”, and of a two-ness, of being "an American, a Negro; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."

solgenique said...

What was the Dean wearing?

Brother Spotless said...

Work casual. Khakis, shirt, shoes.

Anonymous said...

It simply seems to me that this stems from the premise that "we" all have heard at one time or another "when you are black you have to be twice as good". It's not a matter of us simply believing because we often know it, but its about displaying that to other folks......No one remembers what the White kids in the room wore, but I bet you they will always remember what you wore, whether good or bad........

Anonymous said...

Be yourself and stand out. Though true is also that "the very rich" like to wear torn clothes just for fun and fashion. (Then if you are not like this: be yourself and stand out.)