A young man came to me when I stopped my car for the red light. He asked, “Are you all right? Are you in need of anything?” I was confused. Why would one come up to a stranger at the traffic lights to ask such questions?
Before I could respond, Mr. Marvin Crenshaw, who was giving me a tour in South Dallas, immediately replied for me, “no, we are all right. We don’t need anything.” When I drove on with the green lights, Marvin explained to me that the young man actually asked me if I’d buy drug from him! Wow, I learned something.
And I learned more when I asked Marvin if it would be o.k. for him to show me around the neighborhood on some evening. He told me it would be fine. However, a non-black woman making her appearance in south Dallas would mean she would be either “soliciting” or looking for drug! And here “soliciting” means prostitution! So I am learning to be street smart.
Anyhow, my going back to the neighborhood has caught some attention and I am greeted with more “be careful” and “be safe.” I noticed some young men whisper to each other’s ears when I showed up. Maybe my cameras have made them nervous. Their eyes were fixed on me when I walked past them. They were stiff when I greeted them with a smile. Yet there were people who didn’t have problems with my cameras. Those who hanged around at Wah-Wah, a Chinese restaurant with a good reputation, were fine with my cameras, for example. Wah-Wah is a very interesting place and its owner, a Taiwanese woman called Wah-Wah, is a character full of stories. She speaks with an African-American accent. The way she interacted with the local black people, who seemed to adore and respect her, fascinated me. I will go back to Wah-Wah.
And despite all the rough stuff and tough people, I found a fairytale-like picture in the heart of the neighborhood.