Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"We're All Ambassadors"

This was the main idea of a great conversation I had with a Taxi driver (and no it wasn't on some Taxi Cab Confession foolishness). We were speaking about racial profiling in regards to hailing taxis.

Unlike #beige New Yorkers who can just put there hand out and get one I need the aid of a woman (usually #beige). She puts her hand out and when the taxi stops she opens the door and I come running from behind a lamp post and dive in.

I thought it was a miracle that I was able to hail this taxi without using my normal method. I let the driver know how I felt and thanked him and that's when the conversation started. He told me he takes everyone and gives everyone a chance despite the common (mis)beliefs of his colleagues. He says he does so because he believes that "We're all ambassadors" and if we don't do a good job representing whatever it is we represent it hurts us more than it does anyone else.

For him that means picking up every possible fare so that people don't build a negative perception of taxi drivers. For me it was to not only pay my fare, but tip on top of it so that young black dudes wearing bookbags (my description that night lol) have a chance of getting a cab.

This concept is not new to me at all. I've been taught that while I'm a representation of myself, I'm also a representation of others like: my race, gender, affiliations, what have you. Its always nice to get that reminder though and I appreciated the driver for giving it to me in a new way, telling me I'm an ambassador. He said that we must do the best we can to be the best ambassador possible. I agreed.

It made me think of some of my stringent beliefs when i was younger. I believed that those of us who "make it" have the responsibility of being an outstanding example of our race. We must work the hardest, look and dress the best, know the most and so on. The most important thing I believed was that we must never, never do anything that would cast our race in a negative light, support a stereotype or give #thebeige confirmation. I came to realize that it's impossible to do this all the time (Malcolm X is probably the closest to doing it) and way too much pressure. We're human and we like to have fun.

I know all about this lol. I do my best to be that outstanding example but I fall short a lot. I get drunk, laugh obnoxiously loud, eat fried chicken, say nigga, bob my head when I hear a baseline, jump out of my seat when someone spins on the baseline and throws down a ridiculous dunk, whatever. In any of those moments I'm a poor ambassador. Does it mean that I'm not a good one overall? No. I'm just a young black dude having fun lol. However in most instances I'm aware of my responsibility as an ambassador, and I do my best to represent. At the very least we should all be aware of this. And at best we should try to be the best ambassadors we can.

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