Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Discrimination Continues

       Since mid summer I have made the decision to stop wearing shoes. Initially what prompted this was a need to have more grip on my feet at my job and before that as a competitive sailor. Barefoot was always a part of my life but until recently limited only to the summer. I also suffered from chronic back pain but strangely only during the school year. Interestingly enough the only time my shoes were on. So this summer I stopped wearing shoes and started my first year at college continuing this practice. My back pain has disappeared and I feel healthier than ever. From day one however, I had people calling me crazy, freak, asking me if I was on drugs, and all sorts of ignorant stupid things. At least though I had around the same amount of people cheering me on. They said what I was doing was "badass" or "awesome." My teachers luckily have all shown great interest and support to my lifestyle so I am allowed to move throughout the college with bare feet. In some of the dining halls however I am forced to wear shoes which brings back my back pain very quickly within about 10 minutes of walking around.

        I did some research and it turns out in my state and in the state my weekend job is in there are no laws against being ANYWHERE without shoes on. Very often I am asked to leave or put on shoes, why? Today I was at the RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) museum and after paying for a ticket, passing through 4 or 5 exhibits passing numerous security guards curiously eyeing my feet this large heavyset black man said "Excuse me."In the raspy voice of a long time smoker he said "Excuse me." again as I continued past him. As I turned he said I have to leave because I was not wearing shoes. There was no place there even serving food! Why should I wear shoes? Long periods of standing and walking in shoes is not comfortable, I PAID to get in. What the hell gives him the right to kick me out. I was not being disruptive I was quietly observing the art.

         As I was going down in the elevator with a classmate two RISD students were very curious and supportive of not wearing shoes. They thought it was very cool. As I zipped through the streets of Providence on my Ripstik G, I stopped at an intersection where two shriveled up old ladies both holding cigars pointed at me and said "Whats wrong with you?" I ignored these crippled old hags and continued down the road towards JWU. A man stepped out of a door behind me and yelled "Wow you are wild man!" and I responded "Yeah thats me." We had a very pleasant conversation about why I do it and he was very intrigued. Eventually he got to his destination we exchanged our "Have a good one."s and went our separate ways.

      I printed out legal documents from the Department of Health stating that shoes are not required and I will pull it out every time some ignorant drone tells me I don't have the right to walk comfortably and treat my body as it was designed to work. Thats all for now. I am going out for a walk through the city. Its really a very beautiful place.


  1. Hi.
    I ran across this blog and am happy to see more barefooters out there.

    I have been going without shoes for a few years now and although I am lucky that in California, where I live, I don't run in to discrimination all that often though even here I am not immune from it, If you stick to being a barefooter as a way of life eventually the confrontations you run into don't bother you anymore and you just shrug them off.
    I have found that 99% when someone, be it an employee or a security guard, confronts me and makes an issue with me about my lack of shoes, that if I talk to a Manger or person in charge it gets cleared up after I explain I don't wear shoes for health and religious reasons (religious because it is how I live my life now)
    It seems most of the time it's just some busybody or someone on a powertrip that wants to make up their own non existent rule and is probably expecting you to just say oh OK and leave rather than go to the manger which is what I do.

    Anyway stand strong, we barefooters are a growing breed but our numbers are small.
    Hopefully in the near future discrimination will ease for us as more positive things like the barefoot book and "The Sole Man" documentary shine a positive light on barefooting.

  2. Ha thanks a lot. Do you have a blog or anything on the issue?

  3. Fellow Providence BarefooterDecember 4, 2011 at 7:38 AM

    This article put a smile on my face. Ive been barefooting for a few years now, but until this year my barefoot adventures were constrained mainly to the summer because it didn't go over very well at my high school. Im currently attending RISD and haven't worn shoes since I got here, except for in the dining hall when they threaten to kick me out. Every time I go into the RISD museum though someone always notices and manages to try and kick me out, and i always tell them to calm down and pull out my pair of leather sandals from my bag before they throw a fit. I totally relate...especially to all the ignorant comments I get. The people who support it are few, strangely enough, and most of the people that comment are strangers on the street...yesterday i was walking downtown and this man drove up beside me in this huge truck and asked me if i was cold, and when i shook my head no, he asked if i wanted to come home with him to take a shower and he'd clean me up real nicely. he proceeded to laugh and drive off. UGH. disgusting perverts.

  4. Thats crazy! If you like we can try to both go to the RISD museum? Strength in numbers!