It has occurred to me recently that perhaps there are a lot of white people out there who don't always recognize racism when they hear it. I can't speak for others, but I really think that a lot of otherwise well meaning white people simply don't understand what they hear. You see, when you live with racism directed at one group or another, over time you might tend to become immune to certain subtle remarks or words that are thrown around here and there. I'm not talking about the blatant use of the "n" word or outward distain for some ethnic group, I'm talking about small subtle remarks or words that set the stage and transfix one's thinking without sounding like anything bad.
So I thought I'd mention a few of these things in my postings so that others who might not have realized what they were hearing will perhaps in the future recognize these covert racist remarks.
Subtleties of story telling:
How many times have I heard a "true story" about some dumb person or idiotic event framed with a descriptor of race or color? Many of them start out like this:
A doctor friend of mine was working in the ER of a hospital in Chicago when this middle aged black woman came in complaining of. . . .
Back in the 60s my grandfather owned a big full service gas station in Tulsa, OK. One day this car load of Indians pulled in and asked. . . .
My father was a country doctor in Tennessee back in the 50s. One night he was called to the home of a poor rural black family to deliver a baby. . .
Ya get the idea? You know this is going to be some story of hilarious ignorance or pitiful stupidity. The stage is set between some well to do or highly educated white person and a poor dumb ignorant minority. But it's subtle, because race is only thrown in that one time in the beginning. "Why," the story teller will declare, "it's not about the person's race, it's only about a true story my uncle told me."
Then why the fuck did you even have to mention the person's race? You know damn well why. You have preyed upon whatever stereotype is lurking in the minds of your audience. Sure, it might be a funny story. It might be fucking hilarious all by itself without the racial descriptor. So why did the story tell even use the racial descriptor?
The reality is, it's just another way to take a stab at one minority group or another. Hell, I don't think a lot of the people who have told me these stupid stories even realize what they are doing. They are simply ignorant of the subtleties of prejudice around race, class, color and ethnicity. When they become shocked and indignant over being called on their bullshit, they really are so because of their own ignorance.
Should you call people on their stupid remarks? Hell yes. Stop them in their tracks. Ask them up front "does this person's race have something to do with the story?" If they say "no," ask them why they included it in the story. Be confrontational. It is up to everyone with a thinking mind to put an end to racism and it needs to be ferreted out wherever we find it.
So folks, think before you open your mouth. Realize that there is lots of racism ingrained in our society. Be prepared for it.