my underwear is white
Georges Haddad & Tanya Traboulsi
For the average citizen of Beirut maneuvering its streets is not so simple. There are obstructions of different kinds from trees, to cars, to stairs, construction or its scaffolding and sometimes even trash. Sidewalk ramps are blocked if they exist. Overall, inconvenience should be expected. A smooth walk is seldom to come by on the streets of Beirut. The pedestrian is never given priority over a vehicle nor while crossing the street.
By experiencing this on a daily basis one can become frustrated. How do families get by with strollers? How does a cyclist with a bike to their side maneuver their path in such chaos? Or considering our long history with wars, how does a person on a wheelchair get through Beirut’s version of an obstacle course? Surely there are a significant number of handicapped in the city but rarely accommodations considered for their public access.
Also, the maneuvering of this city otherwise is challenging even for the local native Beiruti. So any resident is constantly too inconvenienced by red tape, corruption, their political/religious denomination, and a seeming anarchical style of functioning. One must get by on what they have and based on what sort of social connections they have made. This system changes based on what may arise in ones way, as on the sidewalk. One does not always know what to expect. The challenges and obstacles that lie ahead are expected but may sometimes be unknown.
The sidewalk encounter is an allegory and white a symbol of surrendering. In order to get by over here a person had better “speak softly and carry a big stick”, surrender to the many forces that be, and brace themselves. Since this is not so much a visible decision, hence the name My Underwear is White.