Wednesday, January 24, 2007

still thinking race

I am going to go out on a limb and tell you something that may make some of you very angry at me for even uttering the words. Are you ready? Here goes.

I'm a prejudiced, bigoted racist.

I didn't used to be. I was raised to accept people of different races and cultures and beliefs and to view them as just people with the same thoughts, feelings and desires as myself. Well, maybe not the same, but similar. You get my point.

Ok, then a funny thing happened. I moved to a highly racially-charged town. Now, I remember hearing about race riots occuring back in the early 90s, but that was a long time ago, and I pretty much figured that it was because of the Rodney King trial and had nothing to do with the town itself. Wow, was I wrong.

After living there for over two years, I can tell you that racial tensions are high because of the blatant bigotry and racism exhibited by the city council (raising their salaries, refusing to increase police patrols in “at risk” neighborhoods, kicking the last remaining black man off the city council, etc.) And because of the perceived racism by the "priveleged" class in town. It is almost a "I'll get you before you get me" mentality.

Now, not realizing the racial undertones in the community, I went about my business as I had always done. However, it did not take me long to realize that something was amiss. As groups of black middle school students would walk down my street, a tense silence was all that my cheery hello elicited. On one occassion, a black boy was scattering paper from a folder every few steps and had created a minor paper snow bank for over a block and a half. When he got to the area in front of my house, I said, "Hey, why are you doing that?" The other middle school kids that were with him ignored me completely, and he only looked at me with the utmost contempt before telling me, "Shut up, cowgirl." You can imagine my shock. I'm not used to kids acting like this!

Over the two plus years I lived there, I came to feel resentment and frustration as groups of young black kids roamed basically at-will throughout the neighborhood, harassing the younger kids, stealing anything that was left unattended in someone's yard, and raising general havoc. My house was hit with paintballs and eggs. My bike, Birkenstocks, basketball, and various other items were all stolen right out of my yard. My car was broken into twice. My children couldn't even go to the park that was in our neighborhood because of the large groups of unaccompanied minors behaving badly. I began to feel like a prisoner in my own home. I couldn't wait to get out of that town.

So, in the course of living there, I came to be prejudiced. I learned that young black kids had no respect for me. They would steal from me, ignore me, and tell me to shut up. They would vandalize my house. And in all of these interactions, parents were no where to be seen.

It wasn't just the kids. The adults were just as bad. I had a scary incident outside my home where a truck came to a screeching halt and tried to drag a woman into it. I called the police immediately and ran outside to see if I could help. The woman, who apparently knew the man, refused to acknowledge my offer for help and the guy jumped back in his truck and drove away. About fifteen minutes later the cops trolled on by in response to my call.

If I were black living in that town, I might resent the white people, too. After all, there's a long history there. However, I guess there comes a point where a person is responsible for their own behavior regardless of what other people might think about them based on the color of their skin. They don't have to roam unaccompanied or steal or sneak into my yard at night or yell profanities up and down the street or go by with their stereo cranked up and "nigga" being thumped out for all the world to hear. These are cultural behaviors that are being virtually ignored by the elder blacks in the community. I didn't see any black adults or parents correcting these kids or taking notice of their behavior. So, if the kids are this way, they'll eventually grow into adults and then how are they going to act?

I don't believe it is right to judge someone by the color of their skin. But when a particular race continues to act in a certain way, it becomes characteristic of that race. So now when I see a black person, I have certain expectations about their behavior based on these experiences. And because these experiences have been for the most part bad, my expectations are wary at best. And that, folks, makes me a bigoted, prejudiced racist.

9 comments:

Donkey said...

I believe thay we base our instincts and what we believe based on what we come in contact with. For instance, I hate tomatoes. I refuse to eat them. But I do like tomato products (sauce, kechup, etc.) but not the actual fruit. I hated them since I was a kid. So that means that some point in my childhood I tried (or was forced to try) one and decided right then and there that I don't like them.
I think that happens to us now as adults. If we have a bad expierance that image in burned into our mind and that is what remember. Sadly this case happens to be toward black people. I admit that I make snap judgements of people when I see them dressed like a "gangsta". So we all do it. Not everyone wants to admit/accept it but it's true.
If people don't want that image burnt into others mind then shock us. Act like a decent human being. Be the person that helps others and is respectful. Parents, teach your children that no matter how wrong it is people WILL be judging them. Make sure that they know that so they can make a POSITIVE impression on people.
I don't think expierence is something to use against you Bunny. I think you are simply a normal person that has accepted your views. I just hope you don't allow that as an excuse to retaliate.

shortensweet said...

Oh man...could I go on and on about this..however I won't, just say a few words.
One, I deal with those kind of people EVERY SINGLE DAY! I happen to be the only whitey on all black staff and our black customers treat them with respect and me with disgust. Now, if you know me, you'll know that I'm not a mean person, or rude, mostly certianly not deserving of that treatment. NOW, there is an exception, these same people who are rude, come to ME when they have an issue that needs to be solved, and the very next time they come in, they go back to being rude.
Secondly, there are exceptions to the rule. The elderly are mostly very sweet and kind, and most of the men are sweet to me too.
The sad thing is, most children are raised by only their Moms in this community, which means, chances are, this problem is not only going to continue, but will also get worse.

VeeFlower said...

I have also had bad experiences that have soured me on black culture and what they are NOT teaching their children. When I lived in a small town with a sizeable black population, I didn't think or feel prejudiced. But after I moved here, I slowly became prejudiced, and then angry. I get the feeling there are a lot of black people out there who want to make whitey's life as miserable as possible, and they have done it in many ways large and small. I didn't choose to be white any more than they chose to be black. Nor am I personally responsible for whatever it is that makes them so mean. And I am tired of feeling that I am somehow responsible for paying a debt I don't owe. I am talking about people of color who have a vendetta, not the decent ones who are just trying to get along in life they same way we are.

DCveR said...

Are you sure? Ok, maybe you are racist. But then again... maybe we all are? Furthermore, from my experience black people can be even more racist than white people. The Jews? Gosh, even the Japanese and their stance of moral superiority!
This is a very tricky issue, cuz when you scan it down to detail we all tend to regard those different from us as a potential danger... but given the situation of you meeting a black person in an environment where that person does not pose a threat, how will you regard that person? I've always had friends from different races, since I was a kid. Yet plenty of times I've been accused of racism.

Bonnie Blithe said...

I'm glad to see you posting again! I hate this topic. There are asshole black people and asshole white people and asshole yellow people. Unfortunately they all seem to clump together.

bunnyjo georg said...

Ms. Blithe, I love your asshole-clumping theory! It sure do explain a lot!

Radmila said...

I prefer to see myself as a classist.
Since I have the same feelings that you do for the things that you describe...but I've seen white teenagers do it too!
I think that perhaps it has more to do with manners and class than it actually has to do with race.
Boorishness comes in all nationalities and races.
I agree that it's a tricky subject though.

bunnyjo georg said...

Hi Radmilla! I tend to agree with you. The problem is, where do we get our manners and "class"? We certainly are not born with them, even if we are born into a "priveleged" home. Behaving with manners and class is a learned behavior. We learn the behavior by having it modeled for us and by the rewards and consequences we receive from our environment when we exhibit said manners and "class." Unfortunately, the problem I see is that the only thing being modeled for a lot of kids is the thuggy behavior of their favorite hip-hop star. So does the problem originate in race? Probably not. It most certainly, however, originates in a culture that does not value manners and class!

Yoob said...

I beleive any time an ethnic group is singled out by offer of special dispansation in any way it is racism. There are associations in this country that by their nature are contradictory and have hatefull messages lying just below the surface.

United Negro College Fund:
Black parents do not care enough or are too lazy to send their kids to college.

Miss Black America:
Black women can not compete head to head with other races?

These are examples of oganizations desguised as knights in shining armor, there to protect, uphold, right some wrong or make up for lack in the lives of Black people but to me, these are nothing less than a means of achieving and maintaining power for a select few purchased with pain and continued suffering by the many.
There should be another race riot, the one where black people realized they have been duped by some of their own for generations. Perhaps if there were less greedy assholes telling them how bad it is they would realize that it is not all that bad after all, maybe they would step back into mainstream society and live normal lives and act like us everyday schmucks. Perhaps if they were not stripped of their pride by years of spoon fed entitlements and lies they would rediscover their pride and become proud parents.

These people are not victims, stop treating them as though they are moronic shuffle butts stinging from the white mans whip, lest we forget that slavery began with the sale of men captured during tribal wars to european traders, in other words it was a two way street, Open slavery ended long ago but you continue to enslave your people by hanging chains of misery about their necks, you promise hope but deliver despair and rage. Stop targeting your own race with phony concern while you hand out excuses to fail! it's shameful to offer help that does little else than screem silent volumes proclaiming the shortcommings, motivational and intelectual lack amongst your own people.

If Operation Caucasion came knocking on my door I would be pissed and offended, I don't need your help to succeed.
For too many years the black community has tolerated the pandering of such greedy evil doers. Dr. Martin Luther King got it right and was killed for it, he did not beleive in handing out fish, he taught people to fish! He did not subscribe to hands out but hands up.
Have you ever wondered why a sniper chose to perch across that alley knowing it would require the oft chance Dr. King would step out there. Who was with him that day, who among those led him out to that balcony? In the years since who has became wealthy and powerful? Makes you wonder does it not?