Monday, June 27, 2011

Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

Okay, so I think we all agree that the incident on Friday was most likely about racism.

Only one problem though. I can almost guarantee the man who thought he was being asked for money instead the time does not think of himself as a racist. I bet his friends don't think of him as a racist. I wouldn't be surprised if he spent the rest of his night trying to convince himself that the way he responded wasn't based on race, and that it was all just a misunderstanding. He probably reminded himself that he has plenty of friends of color.

That's the problem.

You can't start making changes until you admit there are changes to be made.

I've thought a lot about what I wish had happened Friday night. I mean, other than it not happening at all. The best case scenario? It would have ended with an apology. It would have ended with an acknowledgment of what happened, and a new resolve not to let it happen again.

That would have been uncomfortable though.

It would have required an admission that racism still exists, even among people who don't consider themselves racist.

And no one really wants to do that, do they?

14 comments:

Cindy said...

I think acknowledging the existence of racism and of white privilege is very hard. I think I started getting around to it a year after Mihiret joined our family....oy...I am a slow learner.

Becky said...

The only time I ever got a sorry out of anyone on something like that, I had to chastise them for their racist behavior in front of my kid. I wonder - is he going to remember me later because I stood up for what was right, or because I was rude to his daddy's coworker? Either way, I'm glad I didn't keep my mouth shut.

She Said said...

I understand your frustration. There is a member of my "close" family that says racist comments out of one side of his mouth and claim that he has lots of friends out of the other. It's bullshit, and they don't like to be called out on it, but I think it is important that we do.

Jen Has A Pen said...

I live in Tallahassee which is very near the Georgia border. Racism is EXTREMELY prevalent here, which I find odd considering there is such a plethora of different races and cultures in this area.

My best friend is black and without question, she was/is treated differently than I am. She barely notices, which might be the most horrific part. She doesn't notice because that's her life. She's being treated the same as she's always been treated. It was only in the last couple of years where she was finally able to see a difference in how I was treated versus how she was treated. So disgusting.

missohkay said...

I'm going to play devil's advocate (please don't be offended). I read that story with a totally different eye. Living in Chicago, people ask me for the time or directions at least 3-4 times a day -- and then they ask me for money. Every. single. time. (Well, I can spot the difference between tourists, who I help, and panhandlers who I usually don't (because I couldn't possibly give money to everyone who asked)). So while the situation you describe does sound like racism and it's terrible - sometimes there's more than meets the eye. I might have done the same thing in that guy's situation.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

Racism or no, it was rude and unnecessary.

It's sad that we'll have to teach our kids about this in this day and age. I think our parents hoped for more. For my part, I just continue to expose Wee Burb to as many cultural differences as I can and I will hope for the best. When she gets older, all I can do is model the tolerance my parents did.

Gina said...

Sadly, those if us who are not racist tend to be aware and critical about our own thoughts and actions, but the folks who actually ARE are the ones who love to start their sentences with "I'm not racist, but" and truly believe that they are not.

Riot Kitty said...

But does he think of himself as a major asshole? That's a question I'd like to ask.

C Lo said...

The more of a grown up I become, the more I realize that grown ups have the HARDEST time with simple "i'm sorry"s. We get so caught up in......bullshit that the simplest way out is, for some reason, that hardest.

makingmonkeysoup.com said...

I have had people make racist comments to me in my workplace, before they were smart enough to look around my office and see my colorful family. Then suddenly, they were joking, or they are the "least racist person, you will ever know."

I think that is their version of "sorry," but it's no where close to the same thing.

It's wrong. It's inexcusable. It's humiliating. It should be over and done with.

Fresh Garden said...

He's a disgrace!
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.
Besides, being angry is as close as a human being can come to experiencing hell on earth.
I'm always here to support you.

Nicole said...

I think people have a misconception about what racism is and only see it as an extreme. You don't have to be a raging member of the KKK and hate every member of a certain race to be racist. You can indeed have black friends but still jump to the conclusion that the black guy asking for the time is going to beg you for money or that the black kid wearing baggy pants is going to rob you. And that is racist. It doesn't mean you hate all black people, but that is certainly a negative reaction based on someone's race. And it is indeed racist.

Michon said...

Wow. That is so true. Racism isn't just out burning crosses. It's "assuming" things about people of different races.

Granny Annie said...

I added a comment to your incident post and I'll add it here as well. Racism is an equal opportunity employer.