- This topic has 115 replies, 15 voices, and was last updated 5 years, 11 months ago by absurdfiction.
August 19, 2015 at 4:16 pm #372634bittergaymarkGuest
I’ve never had anybody open a conversation with me about how white I am. There are plenty of other things to talk about. To use that as an opening gambit is just fucking creepy. And strange. Imagine how off people would think I was if I came in here talking all about how I always opened conversation at Starbucks with variations on “Hey, Mr Asian. Nice day!”
In Thailand and Bali, I had locals ask me where I was from, sure. But that has as much to do with me being obviously American as anything else — that and the fact that I always had a giant camera around my neck. I am so clearly a tourist. Same questions were asked me all over Mexico and Europe… But when you are traveling, it’s not so odd as it might be when you are just at your corner starbucks… After all, abroad you are a stranger in a stranger land. And just your accent alone can have people politely enquiring as to where you are from..August 19, 2015 at 4:31 pm #372638Ele4phantGuest
Bgm – the coffee shop comment did not invoke race. Mim0sa assumed they did. If I recall she said “You don’t go to school around here do you?”. She assumed it was because her race (and I don’t know it’s possible she’s on the money) but maybe the person asked because they’re one of those chatty folks and they don’t like students cause they’re not schlepping backpacks. Or they’re not regulars so the barista is making conversation. The assumption of race was mim0sa’sAugust 19, 2015 at 4:40 pm #372641veracitybGuest
Re. linked articles – no one is arguing that because of history and the current social structures privileging majorities that slurs slung by minorities have the same weight of history on majorities, but why does that mean their experience of bad behaviour mean nothing? Surely, a refusal to acknowledge that it happens or has ANY sort of significance ignores in some way what such instances could teach us about racism? Maybe such micro aggressions are a way to attempt to retrieve some personal power against a backdrop of wider loss of socio-economic power? And in any case, as Mim0sa is not white, what possible bad blood could black people have against her? Oh what’s that? The debate is wider than just black and white? What? Never..August 19, 2015 at 4:45 pm #372643bittergaymarkGuest
Well, fine. Maybe I’ll just run around town pointing out to random minorities that “They don’t go to school around here” and see how comfortable that makes them feel as a test. I’ll report back my results. 😉August 19, 2015 at 4:47 pm #372644mertlejParticipant
Along the lines of BGM’s comments – I’ve had people call me out on my race before, or make assumptions about me based on my race (I’m white), and it can run the gamut from completely innocuous to threatening. It all depends on the circumstance and the tone.
Example: I live in Chicago, and when my husband and I first moved here, we lived in Hyde Park (south side). We cluelessly went wandering around trying to find a library, and went pretty far south, which was in a not so great neighborhood. A black woman came up to us, said something along the lines of “um, are you guys lost? you clearly aren’t from around here”, and then walked us to the library and told us to hurry home. Super nice, very friendly, and we went about our day without getting all worked up about our new neighborhood.
Counter example: some guy getting up in my face and yelling at me that I was a “white cracker bitch” as I walked past him. Not fun, not friendly, very threatening.
totally different. and even if the first question was based on race (and not based on the fact that we were wandering around looking lost), so what? I don’t get how that is anything to be nervous about.August 19, 2015 at 4:57 pm #372650veracitybGuest
In the context of a town experiencing racial tensions due to gentrification, it’s not a far leap to see the pointing out of outsider status as not exactly friendly. I think as a minority who has likely experienced racism before, Mim0sa might be able to tell the difference.August 19, 2015 at 5:06 pm #372655lee3Guest
I want to thank everyone for this thought provoking discussion. I wish you could read some of the witty responses I’ve made in a compilation of cut & paste from various posts. Darn this inadequate technology I’m working with–several posts have vanished into the void. <g>
One thought I’d like to leave you with is: the sociological meme that all our society is mired in racism and that all white people are racists because they have benefited from white privilege has apparently been around about 30 years in the mainstream. Change in perspective and language can take many decades. We’ll get there someday. The meme also includes that black people can’t ever be racist. I guess they can be bigots. And passive agressive. Or just plain human.
All of us white folk who don’t truly understand how beneficial our white privilege has been will learn and grow.
We have to: check the census projections for the next hundred years. I do feel *some* of my white privilege is offset by being short, fat and not terribly talented or clever. Maybe next time around.
Thanks again. I appreciate you. Mimosa, I especially appreciate you for not running away!August 20, 2015 at 8:20 am #372712absurdfictionGuest
Echoing lee3… while I was definitely grinding my teeth a bit while reading some of the posts, I still think this was a good discussion. Conversations like these are important because even if no one changes their worldview, it’s helpful to understand other peoples’ thoughts and attitudes about race and racism. And to top it off, we all managed to stay pretty civil. More proof that DW fosters a fab community!