(1000+ posts) Thu Oct-30-08 08:01 AM
FYI for our White Friends: Here's a form of discrimination you probably have no idea exists
Edited on Thu Oct-30-08 08:51 AM by HamdenRice
I realize it's bad form to start a new thread in response to an existing thread, but I want to make a slightly broader point than is being raised in the existing thread. The existing thread is ejbr's thread "I just went OFF in a Starbucks":
The responses in that thread I think reveal the gulf between black and white experience -- no, not a gulf, a grand canyon of difference between our experiences and perceptions.
Like most people who responded to his post, I thought ejbr's reaction was insanely over the top -- until he mentioned down in post 94 that he is African American, and then it made perfect sense.
You see, in addition to not being followed around in stores and not experiencing other forms of day to day racial harassment, you probably have not experienced a particular kind of racial harassment that ejbr was reacting to, one that has been on a drastic increase since Obama became the nominee, since he became the likely winner of the election, and that will undoubtedly increase exponentially when he becomes president. Let's call it the "passive aggressive political commentary."
If you are African American and occasionally are in public places where conversation takes place -- especially places like cafes, bars and restaurants -- you become used to racists suddenly engaging in spirited discussion of social and political issues relating to race within earshot.
It goes something like this: You sit down to have a beer, and the guys at the next stool who were discussing the Yankees suddenly begin discussing "welfare" or OJ Simpson. Whereas the conversation about the Yankees was private, the conversation about welfare is suddenly loud enough for you to hear. In ejbr's case it was a conversation that switched from pick up lines to the problem of all
of Obama's supporters being idiots. (Now what do you think is the likelihood that the person ejbr "overheard" knew that ejbr was an Obama supporter because of his skin color? And how would your assumption change if ejbr were a white man?)
Now, if you're white you probably think I (and ejbr) are being paranoid. But, of course, you haven't had the same experience, so you don't have the same perception. And that experience is the frequency with which "private" conversations between white people "just happen" to switch to welfare, African American crime rates, or now Obama (or more specifically the stupidity of all Obama supporters
), in our presence and the peculiar way that the volume of those conversations increases in such a way that, what sounded from a certain distance like mumbling background noise when the conversation was about the Yankees becomes almost shouted disquisitions about race matters from the same distance.
But perhaps we are being paranoid. If so, my gosh, it's amazing how often white people discuss racial matters in bars and coffee shops, because we must just be listening in on a "random sample" of their conversational topics! How can we be having a racial divide in this country when white people seem to be discussing racial matters almost all the time?
On the other hand, if our perception is accurately shaped by experience then ejbr's explosion was justified, because, as I said, it's a form of "passive aggressive" behavior; it may be passive, but it's still aggression. Its basic point is: I can insult you by pretending to have a private conversation, and you can't insult me back. It may have seemed like a private conversation, but it wasn't.
And don't tell me to "do what Obama would do." We're not running for the presidency, and we don't have to pretend to like everyone, nor do we have to try to convert anyone to our cause. Our day to day "job" is to defend our own dignity and protect our sanity, which in part is accomplished by not bottling up our rage at when we encounter racists.
And oh yeah, anyone who does this kind of passive aggressive thing isn't going to vote for Obama anyway.