Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The most annoying kid I have ever met

About a year ago, I met this kid named Bob (pseudo-name) at my local church.  This is when I had just moved to a small, racially homogeneous town.  Bob was white.  He was in his early twenties.  Our introductory conversation, where we shook hands and exchanged names, would prove to be our first and last normal interaction. 

On our second interaction, we, along with another kid, somehow get into a conversation about whether Asians could sport cornrows in their hair (Don’t ask me how we get on this topic).   I mention that I’ve seen several Asians with cornrows before and that some of them looked ok.  Bob responds, “Well, Asians just look weird anyway.”  It was one of those statements that are so absurd that you automatically sense sarcasm… or so I thought.  He then gave me a sideways glance, looking at me from the corners of his eyes, and flashing a really dumb grin (hereafter, I will call this “the dumb look”).  The other kid and I exchange looks that say, “Huh? What did he just say?”  Without words, it is understood that we do not want to turn an awkward statement into an awkward moment, so we continue with the conversation.   

Interaction number three.  I went out on a date with this one girl at church.  This girl was good friends with Bob.  At church, I am sitting with this girl when Bob approaches us.  After some brief chit chat, Bob nudges the girl with his elbow and says, “So why are you going out with this Asian guy?”  Again, it seems to be one of those comments where humor is found in the absurdity.  And again, he gives me “the dumb look.”  So, we all have a good, awkward chuckle.

The problem with the above two interactions is what often occurs with apparently facetious statements about race.  Because race has become a sensitive topic in America, it is difficult to state one’s negative opinions of another race.  To get around this, racial commentary is delivered with a clever punch line (not that either of the above comments had any real punch line, but they were obviously meant to be humorous).  Humor and wit serve as a mask for people’s hatred or prejudices.  And incidentally it is hard to combat it because voicing objection to such speech is viewed as ultra-sensitive.  

But let’s keep things in perspective.  If a racial comment is made in jest, I will treat it as any other comment made in the same manner—I will laugh.  But--and this is a big but--the joke has to be relevant, good-natured, and diplomatically delivered.  And so logically, just like any other joke, the context and content must be appropriate; if I don’t know you well enough or if you just made fun of my momma, then maybe I will get a little sensitive. 

Continuing with my interactions with Bob, numbers four to about a dozen.  The weeks go by and I see Bob at church or at some church function pretty much once or twice a week.  However, we never have any real conversations.  Without exception, when the kid sees me in the hallway or when I enter the room, he shouts out, “Hey, it’s the Asian kid!” or “Hey, the Asian guy is here!”  And every time he says this, he has “the dumb look,” and it’s always in front of several other people.  Because of the joking manner in which he says this, and the fact that we always have an audience, not to mention the fact that what he is saying is not in any way false (Well, whaddya know, I am the Asian guy!), it is difficult to ever call him out and risk looking like the uptight minority kid.  I don’t want to make a scene, especially for something that is meant to be a joke, at least in Bob’s mind.  I should also probably mention that most people who hear his comments have no positive or negative reaction.  Most of them are expressionless like they don’t know what hit them.  Some of them grin or laugh, and some who are possibly a little more socially aware give Bob a raised eyebrow.  There are a couple of times where I respond with something like, “Hey, look it’s another white guy.”  That’s actually when the onlookers would laugh the most.  But in no way do I ever smile back or humor the kid.  I think most onlookers would agree that I looked a little bothered.  

Interspersed between the constant “Hey, it’s the Asian guy” comments, are a couple of other more notable comments.  However, each instance is nowhere egregious enough for me to call him out.  There is at least one time he says, “Oh, who invited the Asian guy?”  But again, it was in conjunction with “the dumb look.”  And there is another time where he mentions something about Asians and ping pong; a pretty harmless comment, but combined with everything else, I am becoming very irritated.  I start to see that he doesn’t think of me as a normal human being.  He only sees me as some kind of talking point, like I am a walking target for racial commentary. 

There is a swirl of emotions that run through me when I am constantly pointed out as the Asian guy.  I mean, it is already quite apparent that I look physically different from everyone else around me; is there really any reason to point out the obvious?  Is there really any reason to make me feel any more different than I already do? “Hey everyone. Look at me! My name is Jang, and I’m from a different planet!” 

After about six months of this, I tell my brother about Bob.  I tell him that the next stupid thing Bob says, I’m going to punch the dude in the stomach.  I am pretty set on doing this.  For the life of me, I cannot think of a way to handle this in a civil manner.  It is one of those things where I thought commonsense would not get through this kid’s thick skull.  I thought that all my puzzled looks and snappy responses back to him would have finally made him realize that what he was saying was rude and racist.  I am fully convinced that a beat-down is the only way to get this kid to understand.  But my brother talks some sense into me.  He tells me that as soon as word got out of what I had done, the neighborhood would label me as the minority thug.  Not to mention that this kid would probably call the police on me—“angry Asian man gone berserk!”

So another month goes by and nothing changes.  Then the final interaction... or should I say confrontation?  

I go to a pool party at someone’s house.  When I arrive, there are probably 15 or so people playing volleyball in the pool.  Bob is there, too.  As soon as I enter the water, Bob says the usual, “Oh, when did the Asian guy get here?”  I let it slide once again.  We play volleyball for about 10 minutes.   And then Bob passes me the ball.  As he does this, he calls out, “Hey, little Asian man!”

Ooooh, man… no he didn’t!  That was IT!  I've had enough of this kid.  This comment put me over the top.  And while I know the first comment six months ago was already over the top, this one really does it for me because he didn’t have a joking tone.  And more than anything else, now he is getting dangerously close to calling me a racial epithet.  This Bob character is not any bigger or stronger than I, by even a little bit.  If anything, I am probably taller than he is.  So for him to call me “little” is not for endearing purposes, and is more likely based on the stereotype that Asians are smaller.  I am so furious at this point.  But I manage to calmly take myself out of the game.  I go over to the hot tub, and mull over what has just happened and what is about to happen.  I sit in the hot tub almost incapacitated with anger.  To the two other people in the hot tub, I say, as I point over to Bob, “You see that kid over there? Well, the next stupid thing that kid says, I’m gon’ smack him in the face.”  Both of them are a little confused and ask what was up. I briefly explain the situation but they have no idea what I am talking about.  Unfortunately, now that I have witnesses I feel forced to make good on my word.    

So, eventually, just as expected, Bob enters the hot tub.  A bunch of others also follow him.  So there are probably up to ten people in there.  I sit there just hoping, and knowing, that this kid is going to say something stupid.  And within a few minutes, he does.  He says, “Hey, Jang.  What’s it like being Asian? You must like Asian food. Do you like it more than American food?”  I methodically get up from my seat, stand in the middle of the hot tub, and announce for all to hear, “Ok, I want everybody to witness this!” 

At this point, according to witnesses who told me afterward, my New Yawk accent is in full effect.  I slowly walk over to Bob.  I put my face to probably a foot away from his face.  I point my finger at his eyes, and I yell, “WATCH YO’ MOUTH!”  He responds in disbelief, “Are you serious?”  I answer, “Yeah, I’m serious!”  I continue in full volume, “Ever since I met you, all you been talking about is me being Asian. Talk about something else!” I turn around and face the crowd, and ask, “Everyone’s heard it, right? Everyone’s heard him say this stuff, right?” I couldn’t get an Amen if I were a preacher.  In fact, everyone has their heads down, trying to avoid eye contact.  Bob responds with, “Um, I was just joking. I talk like that to all my black friends and Mexican friends.”  A couple of his friends support him on this by saying that they joke the same way, and acknowledge that Bob is just that kind of guy—“That’s the way he is, dude.”  I yell back in Bob’s face, “Yo, but I ain’t yo’ friend!”  He says, “Sorry, dude.”  Now, while all of this is going on, Bob never removes the stupid grin off his face.  So I say, “Well, if you’re sorry, then wipe that smile off your face!”  I continue, “So, the next stupid thing you say, I’m gon’ smack you! I’m gon’ smack you in the face.”  And I’m not sure what Bob was thinking but he responds, “Well, why don’t you smack me right now?” 

I had a split second decision to make.  Do I get the satisfaction of hitting this dude, in front of all these people who have no idea why I’m mad, and then get labeled the super sensitive Asian guy and the thug of the town?  Or do I stay calm and salvage any respect that I have left with these kids?  The repercussions of hitting someone and getting into a brawl in the middle of a hot tub, at none other than a church activity, just does not seem worth it to me.  So I chicken out.  I return to my seat, and I say exasperatingly, “Whatever, man” as I roll my eyes and shrug my shoulders. 

For a few seconds everyone just sits there.  Someone in the group makes a poor but noble attempt at breaking the awkward silence by asking me, “Hey, so where are you from?”  Although it feels like one of those cheesy moments in a Mormon Church commercial that encourage you to embrace those who are different, I don’t want to make things more awkward by not answering, so I say, “New York.”  Then the inevitable follow-up question is, “Where in NY?”  I reluctantly say, “The Bronx.”  I know what everyone was thinking at this point—“Oh, that’s why this guy is so violent….”

 So after a little more awkward chit chat, Bob leaves the hot tub.  He appears to be feeling very dumb and out of place.  He just stands outside of the hot tub for like 20 minutes, looking at his phone, and pretending to be preoccupied with a thought.  Eventually, he says, “Well, bye everyone.” Then he leaves.

Even while I was in the middle of my tirade I was feeling regret for handling the situation like I had.  Now, I am feeling embarrassment.                                     

The next morning I receive a call from an unknown phone.  I don’t answer.  It calls back another two times.  I assume it is Bob.  I still don’t answer.  A few hours later I receive a text message.  It is a 4 page text from Bob.  I don’t remember the content very well, but it says something like, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know that it bothered you. I thought I was able to joke like that because we were friends and because you’re unique. And blah blah blah.”  It is sincere. Naïve, but sincere.  And I know that he is making a real effort to make amends, and I can’t take that away from him.  So I reply with a text, stating that his apology is accepted and that one day I will sit down and explain to him why his actions were inappropriate. 

Unfortunately, that day did not ever happen.  Many months have gone by since the incident, and other than an acknowledging head nod whenever we happen to make eye contact, we don’t ever interact.  I know I may have missed a great opportunity to educate someone, but honestly, I just wanted to let the whole thing go.  And I almost feel like there was no need for any sensitivity training, because Bob ended up calming down in all respects.  He was a pretty obnoxious guy overall, but after the incident, I have not heard a peep out of him.  At least when I am in the room, he is completely reserved, and it almost seems like he has gone into a hermit shell.  Is it because of me?  I don’t know.  But I can guarantee you he will think twice before making another so-called joke.                                       

23 comments:

  1. wow...good on ya for not losing your cool when in all rights you were entitled to...isn't it difficult to address someone who is saying offensive things, when as soon as you do they either retreat and begin the defensive or take it as fuel to fire their need to cause a scene...shame on the " others " who do the easier thing and avoid eye contact and don't take advantage of a chance to educate someone or others who may not be hip to the whole social scene where the world in their mind isn't as big as their back yard...

    ReplyDelete
  2. ARGH! I'm so sick of such Utahrdedness! (I know I'm stereotyping, but I don't mean all Utahns are like that.. u know what I mean, tough, right?) I'm happy that I'm now in Chicago where all my coworkers are raised and educated to see human as human. They don't see me differently even with my accent. Rather they respect me because I'm a bilingual. I'm afraid to say this, but every time I'm at church, I feel like I'm in Utah all over again
    Don't be embarrassed at all! I'm so proud of you and your guts! Sometimes education is most effective in weird ways.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree- I think you'll find a lot of that attitude in Utah. People feel like because they have one minority friend they're entitled to treat all minorities the same way they treat their one friend. Just because some of his black or Mexican friends are willing to listen to Bob's disrespectful comments doesn't automatically mean that every minority will be comfortable with that disrespect. Do I treat all my white friends the same? No. Because everyone's different. Oh, and I loved the other people's justification for Bob, that his jokes were okay because THEY all joke the same way with their minority friends. Great one guys. We're not in grade school, we aren't justified because "everyone else is doing it."

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jigga-
    You should have punched him in the mouth :) J/K However, based upon his reaction post tongue lashing, it sounds like "Bob" actually looked up to you and thought you were cool because you were different. The comments appear to be his attempts to find ways to start a conversation with you - despite the fact that they came out horribly racist. My final comment from my counter-point soap box is that it would probably have been wise to speak with him one on one before blowing up on him and playing the role of the "Crazy Azian." In fact, a little one on one talk to help the socially handicapped may still be in order.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think you handled the situation about as best as you could for maximum effect with minimal damage (literally, it seems). In situations like this, I've tried to "play the game" back in a somewhat satirical manner. For instance, in this situation I would find one distinguishing characteristic and use it in my return salutation. Depending on what tone you want to carry, you can either use a characteristic that is probably negative or something innocuous to amplify the sarcasm: "Hey, it's the guy with the big nose!" or "Hey, it's the guy with the blonde hair!", respectively.

    I wouldn't get hung up on the missed opportunity to educate this guy. Not worth anyone's time, imho.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! Jang, this was a riveting read. I totally want to punch Bob for you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My life has changed in the last couple of years where I almost never stay quiet. Its hard to speak up at first because we naturally want to avoid contention and uncomfortable situations. It gets easier and it makes me feel good to speak up and educate. We are a product of our environent so I feel obligated to educate ignorance because not everybody is truly aware of how racist they may be. I also feel everybody deserves a ,one on one, civil discussion of differences before a beat down.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Racial humor and wit are not necessarily a mask for hatred and prejudice, although there are attempts to use humor that way. Granted, in the beginning, you gave Bob the benefit of a doubt in recognizing his poor attempt at humor in an absurd remark. I don't blame you for perceiving ill will in Bob when such comments continued at every subsequent meeting. However, I think Bob was sincerely intending to build a relationship through what he thought was friendly banter. Bob's behavior indicates a broader underlying deficiency of social intelligence such that he probably did not realize he was behaving inappropriately. His lengthy apology is evidence of this. (sidebar: the same problem manifests itself in the workplace when men make sexual jokes about, or directed at women without realizing or caring that it is unwelcome and offensive. However, the same "humor as a mask" concept can apply here as well.)

    Although Bob probably learned his lesson, he was subjected to enormous embarrassment in the process, and it will take extraordinary strength of character (fortunately not related to social intelligence) for him to go on with his life without some sort of resentment about the confrontation. How broad the scope of that resentment is depends on Bob. Hopefully he is able to look at the situation from your perspective and understand the reasons for your response. I don't fault you for how you handled the situation. I would not have been able to keep such a cool head.

    Don't blame the "Utahrds" though, they are a product of their own limited exposure to society. Many don't even know enough to know how much they don't know, let alone correct that deficiency. Bob just didn't realize that his attempt at humor was ineffective for all the reasons you stated above in "let's keep things in perspective". I would not be surprised to find out that Bob makes other socially awkward non-racial comments, but everyone just lets it slide because, well, "thats just the way Bob is, Dude"

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jang, I can't see your pupils.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nice blog Jang. Myung told me about your racial rants. I'm going to have to keep following your blog. It seems pretty interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Jang I love the story. I would have used a different name for that stupid Utard like Gunner or Jeb.

    Saerome--stay in Chicago we don't want you here, right?

    ReplyDelete
  12. If Church didn't open his eyes, your blog won't do much to open his mind.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Minerva: I kept thinking that I needed a good white friend who could back me up. Unfortunately, I was still new in town and didn't know many people.

    Saerome: Education works wonders... but don't be surprised when you meet a highly educated person who says something really dumb.

    Jackie: Glad you were able to see that point that you shouldn't base your interactions with people just people it is "ok" with other people. Treat everyone as a unique person.

    Cougbuck: Agreed. I should have spoke to him before blowing up.

    Racehappened: Great to hear from you again! Yes, I tried to employ the strategy to say funny but slightly rude things back to him. I'll make sure to do it better next time.

    Grant Olsen: I wish you were there with me!

    Jung: Yes, the whole incident was a lesson to me that you need to speak your mind in a timely and diplomatic manner. It gets easier the more you do it.

    Asylum: I really appreciate all of your points. I agree that Bob's actions were more a product of social deficiency than any real hatred towards Asians. But unfortunately, that was very difficult to tell until after I blew up on him. But you know what? I'm not going to let him off the hook that easy because in all reality, he probably does have some major prejudices against Asians. You don't make racial "jokes" for six months without harboring some biases and stereotypes.

    Very good point about the sexual comments.

    It took great courage and humility for Bob to apologize to me, and so I believe he has already shown that strength of character.

    Nate Kiser: Thanks for the foreshadowing of a future post.

    PSC: I like how you characterize my commentary as "racial rants." Stay tuned for more ranting. It's only going to get better and more bitter.

    Brostar: I was almost going to use the name Brody.

    Sunny: Good point. That's why I yelled at him, instead.

    ReplyDelete
  14. um...video reenactment??? words don't do this justice hahaha

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hey Jang,

    Great post! I easpecially like the part where Bob's friends go "he treats all his black and mexican friends like that". What they were really saying is "Bob treats the one Mexican and one Black guy he knows like this. They aren't his friends either, and probably think he is a moron."

    Somewhat relatedly, do we know that Bob is from Utah? As a Utahrd myself (albeit a minority Utahrd)I have attended wards in both Utah and other states and can discern no real difference in the amount of racial sensitivity. In my experience, people who complain of racism is Utah often do so in the context of church. Many students allege racism at BYU or in singles wards where (I think) most students are not actually from Utah. Maybe we should say "Ugh, racist Mormons" or better, "Ugh, racist white mormons". Of course, that would not be a politically correct thing to say, but is likely the factually correct thing to say. This is especially apparent in Saerome's comment "I feel like I am back in Utah" Obviously a chunk of Utah has not travelled to Chicago (although many of the ward might originally be from utah, which begs the question 'when does somebody begin to be a Utahrd?') but Mormon culture has followed her.

    The only reason I point this out is to illustrate that the problem may be Mormons rather than Utahns. It is easy to dismiss the problem of racism if we marginalize it to Utahns. But if we enlarge it to include a demographic of which we are a part (ie Mormons)our sense of duty to rectify the problem might change. In other words, you can say "Oh those racist Utahrds, glad I'm not one of them" or you can say "Wow, there seem to be a lot of racially insensitive Mormons." The latter is more likely to compel you to act.

    Just my 2 yuan. Keep it up, Jang!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Jang, you've experienced different forms of racism throughout your life. Some of your early accounts from New York involve direct ethnic slurs and the threat of violence:
    "It was a pretty regular occurrence for complete strangers to see us and immediately say, 'Yo, chink!' More often, it would be in an instance like when we passed by some kids playing baseball and...they would yell something like, 'Yo chink, get the ball!'"
    So now you share a story about a really annoying jerk who currently lives in Utah, and people like Saerome jump all over it as if Utah is the last stronghold for racism and the source of all racial injustice in the world. True, just like any other place on earth, there are ignorant people here in Utah. And there are even cruel and malicious people here. But you'll find racism and ignorance everywhere.

    Due to the general lack of racial diversity here, I think you get more of the ignorant and bumbling racism here...people who mean well but say incredibly stupid and offensive things. But is that really the worst thing in the world? Those of you who are minorities, have you ever felt physically threatened here because of your race? Have you ever been attacked? Bottom line: we can all say stupid things, but Utah is not the last haven of racism. And Chicago is not some racial utopia...every city and every state has its own problems.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jay:
    Will you play me in the video reenactment, since you are like the Asian Will Smith?

    Oliver:
    Yes, the funny thing I kept thinking about was that these black and Mexican friends are probably not his friends.

    Initially, I would agree with you that it is more of a problem with Mormons than with Utahns. But then I thought that that is pretty unfair as well. I really don't believe Mormons are any more racist than any other subset of people. Since I'm living in Utah, I will have a disproportionate number of stories that involves Utahns and Mormons, so characterizing either group is just not fair. And I really don't want to paint an unjust picture for all of the readers who are not in Utah and not Mormon. But I do agree that a better approach to rectify the problem of racism and intolerance is to feel that you are part of part of the problem.

    Grant:
    The main reason I posted stories from my childhood was to let everyone know that racism is not isolated to Utah or Mormons. I think I may need to send out another reminder by telling more New York stories.

    And yes, racism in Utah is more about of an ignorant and innocent nature, rather than malicious.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Nice rejoinder Jang. I didn't mean to imply that Mormons have a disproportionately larger amount of insensitivity than other groups. Apologies.

    One question about your experience: One of the fist things that popped into my head was "Why not just pull this guy aside and ask him to stop?" Now, I'm not suggesting your response was unjustified. On the contrary, you had every right to respond the way you did. He made his comments publicly and you owed him nothing. I applaud your courage.

    But is there a reason you didn't go about it privately? You sort of alluded that you didn't think a "commonsense" approach would work, but was there something more? Any regrets on not having pulled him aside? Or do you feel that society benefits more when racism is confronted in a more public manner? Just curious.

    Keep fightin' the good fight.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oliver:
    The main reason I did not confront him sooner and in a more private manner is because I was uncomfortable doing it--plain and simple. I have a problem with talking to people about these things in a rational way, and so I often let things slide, because of the time it's really no big deal. Obviously, I learned just as big of a lesson from the whole ordeal as Bob did. So yes, talking to him in private would have been a lot better... but I do think polite words would not have been very convincing for him. Nevertheless, civility should always be the first option.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great comment, Grant. Both the ignorant bumbling racism and the intentional malicious racism are often combined under the same label of racist. But one is at least an order of magnitude more blameworthy than the other.

    It has been demonstrated on this blogthat Race is not the only avenue of expression for prejudicial stereotypes. (Prejudicial 2: leading to premature judgment or unwarranted opinion. Merriam-Webster) It is safe to say that no Race, religion, or geographic region has a monopoly on racism. Bob is not that way because he is White, Mormon, or Utahn any more than Jang is "so violent" because he is from the Bronx. There may be some strong correlation between Utahns and bumbling racist comments, but correlation is not causation. Kudos to Jang for not making such an inference in his story and later clarifying that he wishes to avoid such stereotypes.

    ReplyDelete
  21. By saying "Sometimes education is effective in weird ways", I wanted to say that Bob probably had a moment of education right then and when he decided to send 4pg text apology, even though you hadn't sat down with him and talked to him. He'll probably think at least twice before making any racial comments, hopefully.

    I feel like I sounded dumb by stereotyping, but I just wanted to express how I sometimes feel about some Mormons who happen to be utarded. I'll think twice before leaving comments here. ;) I love many aspects of Utah, including the people. I myself married to one from Utah ( who isn't utarded ;p ).
    Racism out of ignorance is not as bad as intentional racism, but Ignorance is certainly not bliss.
    I feel more careful to write comments here, since many readers are very intelligent, and the subject itself is quite sensitive.
    It's an excellent opportunity to expand my understanding and intelligence. I really enjoy reading the blog and the comments.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Asylum:

    But, I AM violent... haha. A friend asked me the other day if I had ever punched someone in the face, and I responded in the negative. That reminds me that I left out an interesting part of the hot tub incident. When I finished yelling at Bob, I said something like, "I want everyone to know that I'm not really like this; I have never hit anyone..."

    Unfortunately, it seems to be human nature to confuse correlation with causation.

    Saerome:
    Yes, I too am starting to see how intelligent the readers of this blog are. You must check and recheck every comment before posting. ;)

    Hey, hope you keep posting!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I was trying to explain the sensitivity the other day in a race discussion I was facilitating at a local high school where tensions can mount because it is very diverse.

    For me it paralels the egg shell plaintiff rule. As I understand it and for the purposes of this discussion, an offender takes responsibility for the damage done even if the offendee was already damaged before an incident...what I was trying to explain unsuccessfully is that after a lifetime of studpid comments and dumb looks there is already damage and all it takes is for one person to add another stupid comment or dumb look and it's on (throwing salt in an open wound). But Bob takes the cake especially w/ the "little Asian man comment". And the after akward communication is no shame cuz had more than six months to check his convo and not doing it means he single handedly opened up a wound not willing to be responsible for evoking a reaction...

    can someone really think that humorous behaviour will shame someone else into silence?

    The where do we go from here is what I have been focusing on lately...especially on a social front can law or policy affect race relations? Courts have argued over this for decades, racists have brandished the statment that law and policy can not affect social change successfully...I'm not really concrete on my response yet but this much I know,,,

    Bob was counting on the fact that socially you would be too (blank) to respond to his "joking" racial remarks...
    In Plessy v. Ferguson 1898 the US Supreme Court tackles separate but equal...a Black man who was 1/8th Black was arrested for sitting on the White car...the Louisiana law said that if a White employee saw a Black passenger and did not report it the White employee could be penalized w/ a fine. The court wrongly decided that Separate but equal was constitutional and this decision spread across every aspect of American life far broader than public transportation. The little nugget I want to focus on here is a twist on the White employee being penalized for not saying anything about a Black passenger riding in the White car...

    If we are silent about racial comments or simply negligent in commenting when demeaning looks or words are perpetrated then those who wield them become powerful...beyond sensitivity responding challenges the purveyor of racial humor to think about what they are saying and doing...Asking what do you mean when you say that puts the focus back on them...it's not always the easiest thing to do especially because White Americans have been so empowered to this point in verbal assaults but if not we start down a slippery slope...I can say this to him so I can say it to the next...you are the bomb because I bet Bob's Black and Mexican friends don't appreciate it much either if he really has any...

    Great Post!

    ReplyDelete