Stephanie Victoria: "I'm a say this lil story then I'm gon' let'chall get back to tweeting...: Recently, I discovered a grocery story even bougie-er than Whole Foods in my new 'hood. My addition to the list of 'approved negroes after 6PM' recently went through so my neighbors have stopped staring at me & the resident coons only give disapproving looks on trash day instead of their usual 'don't start no trouble' slave talks in the hallway...
...The store didn't even look like a grocery store but a boutique for food. But discovering this grocery store gem struck a nerve at Sundowntown HQ; my approval form didn't include this in the safe radius. The first time I went I experienced guffaws, a few elbow bumps, and stares. This time I was prepared and brought my tote bags, a tenet of membership. In true, "we got money & hate niggas fashion" the staff is all POC so, although a few are surly, most are helpful, peeped game and go out of their way to assist me and give me "extras" or special treatment.
Today, a young BM cashier opened his register for me and immediately an older WW gets in line behind me. Now, when I saw her behind me I knew what it was; I've met her before. She's a gatekeeper and her job was to both size me up and report back to Sundown Town HQ. She looked in my cart, saw my total and was disgusted. Buying an item or 2 means you wandered in. Making weekly grocery level purchases and a matching set of tote bags makes you a regular. I've triggered HQ and they've dispatched an agent. She interrupted my convo w/ the cashier & started talking about her mother living through the Depression & all the [nasty ass] recipes she created w/ no seasoning to feed her 88 kids. I listen slightly bemused as a scholar and observant to add to my #Ypipofieldnotes.
Once she saw I was #unbothered, she probes further: "Are you from around here?" This is a question of place: you must not know that this is not your place, surely you wandered in. Allow me to redirect you". I oblige her curiosity & tell her I grew up here. She reloads and cocks. "Oh, I thought maybe you were from out of state. I thought I overhead you saying you were buying all these groceries for an event and assumed you were visiting". Translation: how can you afford to shop here? An item or two is understandable but a week's worth of groceries?
Me: Nope, originally from GA but grew up here.
I dare not say that I live here. I didn't want her head to explode or, worse, she attempt to follow me home. Sundowntown hasn't remained racially monolithic w/o extreme & surreptitious tactics such as surveillance & intimidation.
Me: I said nothing about an event. He [the cashier] and I were discussing meals on the go. I like to cook but I work alot and don't have time.
Her: You know, they have these great meals by Lean Cuisine that are only like $2 at Safeway.
Now, this may seem innocuous but in 1 sentence she redirected me to "my place" by suggesting Safeway & providing me w/ a dollar amount for food. I had a decision to make: A. Smile & thank her B. Draw enough blood for her to take back to HQ & remember the name. I went w/ option B
Me: Tempting but those foods are filled w/ sodium which is very unhealthy & could lead to hypertension & heart disease. I would strongly caution you to avoid such foods. If cost is a factor, you can buy a bag of beans, boil them w/ salt & have a healthy and cost-effective meal.
The cashier who had been watching this exchange tried not to laugh but also wanted to clap like, "yeah, sis! Do it for the culture!". I grabbed my cart, said my signature, "Y'all take care, now." and he winked at me like "I see you & thank you!".
She was silent, wondering how she would report back to HQ: "Mission failed. No further surveillance." My entry for #ypipofieldnotes: "White supremacy extends to food. Food-its quality and proximity-is becoming an indicator of status." Close data set. Label: Can a nigga live? No...