Negotiating Public Space.

Jessica Castillo

December 2012

Discover New York- Professor Nicole Hala


Negotiating Public Spaces

            Thanksgiving is notorious to bring even the worst families together. Many people around the states travel hundred and thousands of miles to be together with their loved ones. The love for food brings everyone together, while food comas mean only one thing, ‘stories from long ago’. For others, Thanksgiving means getting together and planning your Christmas shopping list. Black Friday, ironically is the day after Thanksgiving, where most Americans say things they are already thankful for. Yet they still find the time to get on these ridiculously long lines over night to get their Christmas shopping done. This year I not only got to experience a lovely dinner with my family, but also got to experience the craze of the Back Friday shopping.

            We had spent a wonderful dinner at home, and honestly I was ready to sleep at about 11pm that night thanks to the food coma. Just as I head upstairs to my room I’m informed that we are going out to buy an unnecessary television for the basement. Notorious for great Black Friday specials, Walmart had a great deal on a flat screen LED television, and my brother had his eyes all over it. He convinced my father and sooner rather than later we appeared at the huge line at the Gateway Mall Shopping Center. I decided to tag along not just for the experience but rather thought it would be a great place to observe the crowd for my DNY assignment.

            Observing people really isn’t my thing. Yea here and there we all do it in order to be cautious of our surroundings but I have noticed people really don’t like to be looked at in this city. I decided I had to go about this in a very discrete manner and I thought I accomplished my goal quite well. On line, I noticed a lot of minorities especially African Americans. They didn’t look the type to be from a high class in fact I’d say they were probably low middle class. They kept mentioning how great it would be if they could use their ‘food stamps’ in their shopping’s. The clothing the men wore was quite stereotypical. Big, chunky, flashy chains with baggy jeans that revealed there preferred boxers for the day, and the Ralph Lauren tee or sweater. The women were more of the tight jeans that made some either look like they had the best body in town, or a stuffed sausage. They seemed more concerned with their hair more than anything. Most had their hair bright red, typical after Rihanna introduced the craze. The people behind me made small talk with me. They looked like they were in there forties and explained they were only there for the fun of it. They told me their story about how the got to this country and how the land of new opportunities wasn’t meeting their expectations. My background ‘music’ was the sound of hoodlums shouting and cursing, and I saw the disgust in the men’s faces. I knew they were still not used to that behavior, while for me it’s more of a norm even though I despise it. Once inside I saw something that quite shocked me. Two young African American males making quick cash. Not only did they have about 15 flat screen TVs but sold each one to desperate consumers in the chaos inside. The TVs were hard to get a hold of, and people did just about everything to buy one that day. Nonetheless, people were bound to go to these two young males and pay the price to have it in order to actually purchase it.

            At the end of the day we were lucky to find the television my brother wanted without paying the guys extra cash just to actually purchase it at the register. Everyone at Walmart was going crazy, and not only was it annoying to hear people scream but the feeling of someone’s breath was quite irritating as well. This was perhaps the first and only black Friday experience I will ever have. I decided that the reactions of many people weren’t much to my liking, and for me standing on long lines for something just doesn’t cut it. 


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