On Racism

After paying for my groceries at the store yesterday, I headed for the exit. Naturally. As I made my way to the exit, there was an elderly black man walking in front of me. Off to the left, there was a middle-aged white man standing at the end of a check-out lane while the cashier rang up his groceries. I noticed the white man noticing the black man, except he wasn’t really noticing the black man as much as he was gaping at him, contempt filling his ugly face (which was only ugly to me because of the sheer disgust he had for another man simply because he was black).

Aside: I’m assuming these two didn’t know each other. When I go to the store I rarely run into someone I know, whether I like that person or not. So I feel safe with this assumption. I’m also assuming something else didn’t happen between them at the store beforehand (like the black man cutting off the white man in the parking lot or something). It simply felt like the disgust was due to skin color.

The black man sauntered by with nary a glance at the man who was regarding him with open contempt. I don’t know whether he simply didn’t notice the scornful look or that he’s just used to it. The latter is truly disturbing.

Racism sometimes still amazes me, and not at all in a good way. I mean, here was a white man, just staring at a black man with no attempt to hide the hatred on his face. The other man’s crime, so far as I could tell, was being black. He wasn’t making a scene or behaving unusually. He was doing nothing to provoke the vile look of hostility he was receiving. The man had quietly paid for his merchandise, and was calmly exiting the store.

It’s just another reminder to me that, even as far as we’ve come in race relations, we still have a long way to go.

I just don’t understand how you can you hate someone you don’t even know. How can you hate someone when you don’t know their name? Their politics? Their religion? Their beliefs? Their history? Their sense of humor? Their likes? Their dislikes? How can you completely judge someone based on appearance alone? Hell, not even appearance, but skin color. What did the color of this black man’s skin say to the white man? What evil things had he been taught about black people?

I consider myself lucky to have been raised in a home in which hatred was not taught. There was some intolerance, sure, but no hatred. I grew up idolizing black athletes such as Eric Davis and Isiah Thomas. No one ever told me I should hate them because they aren’t white, and for that I am extremely grateful.

It wasn’t until my senior year in a Louisville high school that I encountered racism. I worked at a pizza joint after school, busing tables and washing dishes. I often stayed until midnight or later to help close the place up (which was quite illegal), but always got a ride home from the closing manager as a way of thanking me for staying (and not reporting them for labor violations).

One particular night the store manager closed (which was a rarity) and he gave me a ride home. The first thing I noticed on his car were the Dixie flags. Some people see this as an expression of state’s rights, but I’m not one of those people. I, however, decided not to comment on it.

After we were in the car and buckled in, he pulled a night stick out from under the driver’s seat. It was dark and I didn’t immediately recognize what it was, so naturally I inquired.

“That’s my nigger beater,” he replied, a twisted grin on his face.

I sat there in shock for a moment. That word was not foreign to me. After all, I listened to hip hop exclusively at the time. That was, however, the first time I had heard that word outside the lyrics of a rap song. It was also the first time I had heard it used in a derogatory context. That man was the first person I had ever encountered who openly made a racist comment in front of me. If I had ever met a racist before then I was not aware of it.

I was having no part of his opinion. I politely (he was my boss, after all) let him know I didn’t appreciate his comment. He, in turn, did not appreciate my retort. Our discussion continued, much of it I can’t recall, but at some point he asked me point-blank, “So are you telling me you would date a black woman?”

I’m unsure why he thought that question was relevant to anything we were discussing, but I answered him anyhow. “Yes, I would.”

“I have just lost all respect for you,” he announced, like that somehow would ruin my day. I can assure you, sir, having the respect of an ignorant racist is NOT on my bucket list.

“Yeah, well, I have just lost all respect for YOU!” I retorted. And I had. I have never had tolerance for any sort of bigotry, even when I was 17 years old. Luckily, the ride home was short and that was the conclusion of our conversation. Not long afterward, I quit that job with no notice.

Race, as much as many conservative white folks claim otherwise, is still a divisive issue in our society. If you have any doubt about that then I suggest you Google Donald Sterling, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Riley Cooper, or, as of yesterday, Bruce Levinson.

I still cannot fathom how one can form an opinion on another person based on appearance alone. It truly boggles my mind. In fact, it infuriates me. I was incensed by the white man gawking at the black man yesterday with unhidden scorn on his face. I was appalled by the blatant racist statements of my former boss. I am further disgusted by the attempts of Fox News and their ilk claiming that race was not an issue in Ferguson. I am tired of hatred, and the disingenuous excuses for it. It’s all bullshit.

When I was a wee lad, I would often scoff when food I had never tried before ended up on my plate. I would refuse to eat it and claim I didn’t like it. “Have you tried it?” was the standard response of whichever parent happened to be present at the time.

“Well, no,” would always be my sheepish response. Always.

“Well, then how do you know you don’t like it?” they would ask. How indeed?

I never had an answer for them.

Perhaps this isn’t an apt analogy, but it’s the one I’m running with. How do you know, racists, whether or not someone is a decent human being if you don’t take the time to get to know them?

How indeed?

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About Twindaddy (328 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

84 Comments on On Racism

  1. Bravo. This is quite brilliant and I applaud you.

    HOW INDEED 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Or a republican? Or an illegal immigrant? Or a transgender? Or a holy roller?
    Our society is inundated with judgements based on pre-conceived notions and stereotypes. And assumptions…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done! It’s a sad, scary world we live in these days.

    Like

  4. I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe. And talked to people whose ignorance made me angry to the point of restraining myself from violence.
    Don’t even get me started.

    Like

  5. So sad but true! 😦

    Like

  6. How? Because Fox News says so, and you know Fox never lies.
    P.S. You know, for years I used to think that all stormtroopers were evil and should be shot on sight – before I met you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. amen, brother! xox

    Like

  8. Well said.

    I grew up in a very white community. There was one black girl in my high school class and I was terribly afraid that I might be a racist because I couldn’t stand her. It kept me up some nights. But ultimately I realized that I didn’t like her because she was obnoxious — skin color had nothing to do with it. That said, I was never unkind to her. In fact, no one was, which either speaks well of my classmates or shows that folks who were racists were at least polite enough to keep it to themselves.

    In the intervening 40 (god help me) years, I have had black friends and there have been blacks whom I didn’t like or liked less well. Skin color was not the reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Other than Lovie and commented:
    brilliant post on racism. fucking racism.

    Like

  10. Well said TD.

    Like

  11. Wow, it’s so weird that those things still happen… And that remark of your boss then is completely nuts. Seriously, wow.
    As it seems, people are getting more or less tolerant here. I mean, maybe it’s just more hidden because you are supposed to be tolerant, but at least it’s something that they don’t stare at black people. There is, and most likely will be quite some time still, a sort of distrust for a part. Mostly depending on the context I suppose. I don’t think people here think a black guy who goes to university is any less than a white guy. But during the night in a dark street, yeah, that might be somewhat else.

    Sad thing! We should try to raise the coming generations with more tolerance. Tough job.

    Like

    • I can only control how my children are raised. And they are definitely not taught to hate. Quite the opposite, actually.

      The problem is that the people who hate think their hate is justified and the way things should be. It’s hard to undo that.

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      • Exactly – which is why we won’t get rid of the hate soon. And when people are being hated for such a stupid thing as a skin colour, they will react against it (sometimes), to which the haters will respond with more hate.

        I think of racism as a sort of self fulfilling prophecy, and a circle that you can hardly leave.

        Like

  12. People can be fucking assholes. That’s why it’s so great when you come across the decent ones.

    Like

  13. I’m totally with you on this one, TD. In the Army we have a saying: “Everyone bleeds red.” Kinda sums it up for me.

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  14. As a non Caucasian who grew up amongst racism in white schools nice the age of 10, I am proud of you for writing this post. Everything you have written is the truth. Our presumptions are shaped and taught by our parents, teachers and experiences. It is frustrating when one is looking it face on!

    Like

  15. Heartbreaking. I, as well, have been asked if I would ever date a black man. This seems to be a canned response by the A typical ignorant bigot.

    Like

  16. Having the time to read this is possibly the only good thing about having a six-hour medical appointment today (ugh). Having another little one has me facing anew all the questions I did when my older son was born. Once again, I find myself astonished that there are people who would hate my sons without knowing them, on the basis of something so superfluous to who they really are. I see how people–including policemen!–respond to my husband and find myself thankful my sons’ skin is so light … and then horrified by the thought. What kind of consolation is that, when others continue to suffer so greatly?

    Like

    • A six-hour medical appointment?? Wow. Are you okay?

      It’s sad that you feel relief about the lightness of your children’s skin. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but I understand why you do.

      It’s so messed up.

      Like

  17. It sometimes surprises me too, and it’s a sad thing all around. This is a good post, my friend.

    Like

  18. Unfortunately as long as there is difference we will have racism. I’m not trying to be cynical, but I know this will never be a utopia. And I noticed you only referred to whites being racists to blacks. I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but here in this part of FL we have a lot of racist black people. And yeah, it may be hate, but deep down it’s more of a fear of the unknown. If you have never experienced another person’s culture and only been taught to loathe them as a group because of the lies you have been fed, then you’re ignorant and maybe one day something will happen that will open that ignorant person’s eyes. Maybe not. But I am the type of person that is all about living and let live. If a person wants to be ignorant, let them. As long as they’re not hurting anyone they’re allowed to their views, opinions and feelings. And you know neither man’s story. Some racist people are that way for reasons I don’t even want to know — ugly experiences they have had in their lives. We never know.

    Great post, gave a lot to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know very well that racism goes in every which direction. The examples cited were just two that I witnessed.

      No, I don’t know the story of either of those two men, but I can’t think of any reason that would justify hating an entire race. I once knew a white woman who would only date black men because she was raped by a white men. While that’s certainly understandable, it’s also kind of insulting to us white men who would NEVER treat a woman like that.

      Things happen. People hurt us. We need to realize, though, that an entire race cannot be defined by the actions of one, two, or even a small group of people. I mean, what if all white people were judged by the actions of the KKK? That would SUCK.

      Like

      • Look at the Middle East right now. Those people are all being looked at suspiciously because of Al Qaida and what not. It’s sad, but it happens and the media feeds it. And white people will always be judged, look at the history of our country. I don’t live with any guilt, but some races believe we should.

        Like

        • I’m definitely not implying that we should live with guilt. I don’t either. I didn’t commit any of those crimes. But there are white people out there keeping minorities down and mistreating them. It’s happening. And it sucks.

          But like I said, it sometimes goes the other way. Just today I saw a video (well, I saw the headline – I refused to watch the video) of a white person getting the shit totally kicked out of him by black people simply because that person was white. I remember reading about a similar case after Trayvon Martin was murdered. A group of four black men beat a white man (almost to death) because he was white. Witnesses reported hearing the men say that it was “justice for Trayvon” like some random white jogger had anything to do with it.

          Overall, though, in a lot of places there is a systemic racial bias from whites with power to all minorities. Admitting it makes me uncomfortable simply because I don’t feel that way, but it’s getting harder to ignore.

          Like

  19. Maybe the dude had on a terrible shirt or a Miami Heat jersey? I hate the Heat too. Lol. I hope there was some sort of action that led to the disdain, and not just the skin color, but it’s out there for sure. When people are so up front with it, that’s really something. I remember when I was bagging groceries in the lat 80’s. Many many old men would make small talk about the Cardinals and say something ignorant about the black players. I was all, “dude, I totally love Ozzie and Willie so shut it old man!” lol. In my head anyway. I needed the job.

    Like

    • I don’t know. The dude was just wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. The white guy wasn’t even looking at the guy’s clothes. Was just staring intently at his face. It was kinda disturbing.

      Like

  20. Great post. I concur with the ending. How do you know if you don’t like it if you never tried it? And how do you know if you like so and so if you never knew them? The problem with racists is that they judge from the color of their skin but if they just saw through the persons life. They’ll might find out that – that same person they called a racial epithet could be some of the nicest people that person has ever met.

    Like

  21. Dafuq is right. The fact that this still happens is another reason I want off this planet. Sad thing is this would happen there as well, I’m sure.

    Like

  22. Living where I live, my actual response to this would be an entire post long…….
    But ultimatly I blieve in respect of all human beings no matter what race. I dislike racism. And I understand your discust at it.

    Like

  23. Well said, TD. Unfortunately, racism/bigotry/intolerance are hallmarks of the ignorant. The entrenched position held by those who hate others based on colour/religion/sexual persuasion etc is often fed from the home, imbibed with baby milk and hard to change. But there are changes. The very fact that we can now be shocked by what was once deemed acceptable is evidence of this. Sadly, it takes a long time for change to filter through the generations, for new thought to replace the old. As long as people speak up and out against narrow-mindedness there is hope. You’ve given more today.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hate that it takes so long, but I like that we’re making progress. It still baffles me that people can hate people they’ve never met, for whatever reason. Race, orientation, gender, age, religion. As Rants said above, we all bleed red.

      Like

  24. I am tempted to ask if you didn’t just imagine that white man’s face but I know better. I know that, sadly, your powers of observation are as sharp as ever.

    I hate to be a Gloomy Gus at 7:00 in the a.m. but I feel there are certain constants. There will never be peace in the Middle East and there will always be racism. It has been greatly diminished but I don’t think it’ll ever be completely eradicated from the face of the earth.

    We are all pretty similar. From our pal Shakespeare spoken through Shylock:

    “Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die?”

    Like

  25. Brilliant post. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Living in a country where racism divided us for so long (and even still, 20 odd years into ‘democracy) I can so relate to watching people and their blatant racism so evident in their mannerisms, comments and even looks on their faces. Really well written.

    Like

    • Thanks, hon. It’s been roughly 50 years here since desegregation, and a little over 150 since slavery was abolished. Yet race still divides so many of us. All I can do is scratch my head and wonder why we hate each other’s differences instead of celebrating them.

      Like

  26. Hate is never acceptable. Unless you hurt my family and then all bets are off. I believe you can dislike someone for their actions and/or their attitude, but never hate. Race, religion, gender, sexual orientation….whose business is it. Certainly not mine. It’s ridiculous and not a good reason to dislike anyone, let alone hate. Dig, people! Look at the PERSON underneath the IDEA that you hate.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I knew you weren’t a stupid man and that you wouldn’t be the racist type, but even still, this is a great post. I can’t figure it out myself. Recently I had a talk with my dad about it, because every now and then he throws out that dirty word and I told him I don’t like it. I’ve told him before, but he forgets sometimes. And I know deep down he’s not a racist, but for some reason he feels like he can use that word. And I actually think he thinks it isn’t as shitty a word as it is. Along with the places he uses it, a few people I work with use it the same way. Always to describe an asshole who happens to be black. So I say, “If a white man did that, you’d call him an asshole. Why not just call the black man that? Seems only right.” They never have a response. I can’t stand that shit. Racism is stupidity mixed with hatred. There’s never a good reason for it, and chances are those who are racist aren’t just racist, they’re also terrible people in many more areas. Fuck racists.

    Like

  28. Sing it louder, TD! I concur (like a doctor) with all that you have said.

    Liked by 1 person

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