Racism and Prejudice are still things.
They aren’t everything or the only things, but they are still things, and mentioning them
as a possible reason for unpleasantness is not the same thing as summoning the bogeyman.
We’re not talking about Voldemort, ya’ll.
You’re not raising a specter when you wonder if something that happened was racially motivated,
because that’s as valid a possibility as anything else.
Except mole people.
Mole people attacks are invalid.
I was, quite recently, shunned.
Alright, perhaps shunned is a strong word, but that adequately describes the way that I felt when, in a group of a number of individuals, I was the only person not greeted and verbally engaged by the leader of that group.
This leader and I had never met.
This leader approached every single person in the group, introduced herself, laughed, joked, and was generally charming, locked eyes with me, and… moved on.
I’m going to record a needle scratch and simply play it on my phone when such moments occur, because everyone should hear what is going on in my mind.
The leader did not introduce herself, did not say hello, did not laugh or joke, and nor was she generally charming to me… and only me. She then proceeded to barely acknowledge me in any way, while continuing to be generally charming to everyone else.
Now, this is usually the point when someone (perhaps someone who has never been snubbed) says, “Well, why didn’t you speak to her?”
I have two reasons:
1) I was shocked. I tend to freeze and retreat when I’m shocked. As my mind starts trying to process, other vital systems begin to shut down to conserve energy.
2) I tend to avoid forcing myself on people. If I develop the idea, based on observed behaviors, that someone doesn’t particularly want to make a connection with me, I’ll make both of us happy and disappear forthwith.
This truly delightful (alert: sarcasm) experience brought me back to a conversation I’ve been having with myself for a while.
Yes, I do that.
I talk to myself.
Contrary to common belief, I’m a glorious conversationalist. Just not when other people are involved.
As I ran through my mental list of things about myself that could have triggered such a bizarrely pointed response, I considered my skin color, and a little voice in my head immediately asked, “Does everything have to be about race?”
No. Of course not. Everything isn’t about race… but that doesn’t mean that nothing ever is.
Why are we so quick to insist that racism is an invalid reason for unpleasantness?
When someone asks, “Prejudice?” why do we chastise that person for even bringing up the subject, instead of admitting, “Well, that’s technically as possible as anything else”?
In the case of the rude group leader, I have no idea what her reasons were… and they’re none of my nevermind, really.
I’m not going to ask her about it, and the only label that I have assigned to her is that of “Oddly Rude Person in Leadership”, because that is the only label that I can prove. I couldn’t possibly be less interested in the possible justifications for her behavior, be it a terrible morning commute, a deeply rooted dislike of hipster glasses, or that people of particular color (whatever color that might be) set the gears a’grindin’ and whatever the reason, rudeness is rarely an acceptable reaction… but there’s always an extra layer of discomfort when someone is rude to you and you exclusively, out of a room full of equally vulnerable targets. That extra layer prompts all sorts of itchy questions, like: “Why me, specifically? What is different about me? What is it about me that this person doesn’t like? Could it be my perfume? My style of dress? Is my smile not pleasing?”
Generally speaking, society allows those questions to be asked, whether they are proved to be true or not. If a woman suspects that another woman doesn’t like her because of her hair, no matter how ridiculous that assertion might sound, no one drops the hammer. We might think, “Your hair? Really? That’s irrational”, but we don’t leap atop said woman’s back and accuse her of being obsessed with hairism. However, should you ever include in your list of possible reasons behind a rude person’s rudeness, the question “Is my skin color possibly offensive to this curiously rude person?”, one is automatically accused of resurrecting old issues.
Well, we’ll agree that the issue is certainly old, but one can’t resurrect something that is not dead (you don’t have to take my word for it).
Racism and prejudice never actually died. They may have changed form, size, intensity, aroma, etc., but they still live, and we know this because people of all races and assorted colors still run into those things.
If you haven’t, maseltov.
You are all fortune, fair winds, and fairy magic, good sir. I am genuinely happy for you… and if you start trying to extrapolate your experiences to the rest of the world, I’m going to tell you to get back in your box, Lucky Charms. Your (perfectly valid) experiences do not, by value of their validity, invalidate another person’s opposite experience. The solution to racial issues is not to take race entirely off the table and out of the conversation… it’s to talk about it like rational adult humanoid type creatures.
To sum up:
1) Schmuckish behavior is inappropriate, regardless of whatever reason you might have for it.
2) Racial issues are just as possible a reason for someone to behave like a schmuck as any of the other thousands of reasons that we’re more comfortable with.
3) As for me, I personally don’t consider you to be more of a schmuck if you’re a racist schmuck, because a schmuck is a schmuck is a schmuck.
4) I’M TEAM ANTI-SCHMUCK. Grr.