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Snapshots from the Rail

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Scroll down for notes from the WayOut experience. If we don't study ourselves, we get studied. Often, with a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation. We're side launching a community ethnographic endeavor-- out of the ivory tower and into the grassroots. The snapshots below are excerpts from written and audio field notes. Join the research. Not as subjects, but as intellectuals. Post your reactions, insights, analysis and similar experiences. 

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"Where ya going in those flip flops, girl?"

 

Mike and I decide to leave the kids at the campsite and go foraging. The day before we spotted some chanterelle mushrooms from a distance so we wanted to head a little deeper into the brush to see if we could find enough to cook.  As we are walking we hear a loud voice, “Where ya going in those flip flops, girl?” Mike and I look back and see a woman and two men. It was the woman who had called out in a sort of I’m playing but I’m saying manner. “Not worried about getting a little mud on my feet,” I yell back. “ It’s not the mud, but you’re going to have to run if you see something wild out here.”  “You right.” I say.  “That’s real talk.”  We continue the loud banter back and forth a couple more times before our conversation comes to an easy end.

It felt so familiar being yelled at from down the way. For a second, I felt like I was back home in Brooklyn. I had never experienced this cultural familiarity at any other campground we had stayed in in our 20+ years of camping. Seeing a person out walking in flip flops through muddy terrain, many would have just whispered to their friend- Why she out here in those?”  Instead, although we never met, this woman simply calls out to me like she knew me which starts our shouting banter back and forth. Underneath her advice is not criticism, it’s just love, a feeling of just looking out for you.

Would she have called out to me in that way if I wasn’t Black? I don’t know. Were we both at more ease with a stranger because we were outdoors? I don’t know.  All I know is that by the end of our three days camping and helping the farmowners harvest, Mike and I both agreed that this was the most safe and at home we ever felt camping. It also happened to be the first Black-owned campground we ever stayed at.

“He’s not white, y’all. He’s Black!”
"Oh! The cops are here."
 

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Friday, 09 December 2022