Just got back from the American Mexico that is Cancun’s Hotel Zone.
I don’t mean that as a compliment.
I admit it. I went and immersed myself in the food, sun and playa that is Gulf-side Mexico over spring break. To do it, I put the critical part of my brain on pause. Instead of asking some basic questions about why all the men working at the resort felt compelled to flirt shamelessly with me but were very careful to also keep their distance because a touch could have them fired. Or why dollars were easier to find and use than pesos. Or why the Cancun party district looked a lot like frat row on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights–blond, buxom and inebriated. Or why a young, white man decided to yell in verrrrrry slooooow English at one of the servers who pretended not to understand his oh so appropriate question, “HOW much do YOU get PAID to WORK HERE?” (We later dubbed him, King of the Douchebags)
Instead, I self-policed and silenced myself, because I was busy enjoying the benefits and privileges of empire.
If I’d asked those questions, I would have had to admit that my presence along contributed to the strange hodge-podge of neo-colonial excess. I’d have to ask about my own position of relative economic comfort compared to my peers stateside. I’d have to trouble my brain, again, with the parameters of brown male privilege and the hypervisibility (and globalized sexuality) of the black female body (in a fine azzed bikini, I might add). I’d have to scold myself for not stepping on King of the Douchebags toes, afraid someone, somewhere, would complain and someone, somewhere, would lose their job.
And I’m more troubled than ever.