Friday, July 10, 2009

"Subtle" Racism..........

Today if you asked most people point blank if they were racist they would emphatically say, NO! However, sometimes racism rears it's ugly head in such subtle ways that eCheck Spellingven the person that is being racist still thinks they are not. Circumstances are constantly arising in my family's daily life that brings about what I call "subtle racism" in people. It's racism none the less, but one would never admit it. I have sooooo many examples I don't know where to begin, but since I am blogging and not writing a book I will just list a few. =) For many, many years my husband and I banked at Wells Fargo. We owned a store right up the street so I was there every single day, and we were a staple in the community (that's another story....you can read about it here). www.themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com/2009/06/through-good-times-and-bad-and-why-i.html One day Jamie went to the bank to deposit a check that was fairly large, but nothing out of the ordinary. After he made the deposit he called me and told me that the bank put a 7 day hold on it. I said, "What, they never, ever hold our checks no matter how big they are." Of course because he was a black man, depositing a large check, they assumed right away there would be an issue. Needless to say I went to the bank and asked them why they held the check. They asked who deposited it and I told them my husband did, and then went on to describe him to the teller that originally helped him. The teller turned red, apologized, and said, "Oh, he should have just told us he was your husband and we wouldn't have held it." Wow, really!? Black man, large check....better hold it, white woman, business owner, go ahead and cash it....."subtle racism." Another time, my husband was making a delivery for our store and he was driving my car that had the business magnets with the store name and address on the car. He was only a few blocks from our house as the delivery was in our neighborhood. There was a women at a stop light that rolled down her window and yelled at him to slow down in "her neighborhood!" Yes, she actually said "her neighborhood!" Of course she assumed he was an employee/delivery driver vs. one of the owners, and he couldn't possibly live in "HER neighborhood." Again, "subtle racism." Then there are always the elevator stories. I am sure there are "bazillions" of black men that can relate. One time Jamie was on an elevator and a white woman was waiting to get on the elevator going to the next floor. When the doors opened and she saw Jamie she said she would just wait for the next one! Wow, wow, wow! Now if you asked her if she was racist, I am sure she would tell you no, but talk about "subtle racism" at it's best! You know exactly what she was thinking.....large "scary" black man on the elevator, something might happen to me if I get on there with him! First of all, don't flatter yourself, second of all, if she only knew what a teddy bear he truly is she would have run onto the elevator with open arms! Okay I am being a little dramatic....but you get my point. "Subtle racism" is just racism wrapped in a pretty little bow called "justification."

7 comments:

Jay Steffers said...

Despite the liberal image the Dutch have, I too noted "subtle racism" Being a white guy with a mixed BFF (Best Female Friend), more than once we got the dreaded
"colored this, colored that, but eh not You, you are all right".....grrr.. Or in shops, when shop-assistants start to talk in this sort of "simpleton language" reserved for non-dutch speaking immigrants..Until my BFF opens her mouth, and a full Northern Dutch dialect starts rolling out.. Their faces..One can do no more than laugh it off i guess..

Amy said...

Hi Jay,

Good to hear from you again. Funny how we both live in "liberal" areas...me in California and you in the Netherlands, yet we still experience "subtle racism" in all its forms. I used to laugh it off but now I pretty much hit it head on....kind of like when I went back to the bank and described my husband. The teller knew exactly why she CHOSE not to deposit the check right away. It would not have been a question if it was me depositing it. My hope is that person by person, and incident by incident, things will change just a little more each day. I have to keep in mind how far we have come even though we still have a very long way to go. It brings me back to my post about being taught to be a bigot...we all know that nobody is born that way!

Thanks again for reading!

Amy

Amélie said...

I've come upon this blog through facebook, the problem I'm having is my family isn't accepting my boyfriend of 5 years because he is black. They refuse to meet him, now that's not very subtle, it's very in your face, but what can I really do? I love both sides very much, but do I really have to choose one or another????

Amy said...

Amelie,

I am so happy you have found my blog but so sad to hear of your situation. You have been with your boyfriend for 5 years and he has never met your family?! I would never give the advice to choose one over the other because clearly you love both. You must find a way to show your family that your boyfriend makes you happy and fills you with love just like they do. Read my post "Melting Pot" for a little more insight. Maybe even show your family the "Melting Pot" post or the entire blog for that matter. They might see that it is just about love and nothing else. We have been through it all and there were lots of tears but in the end what TRULY matters is that you are happy. I would hope your family can one day see JUST that. It's not about skin color it's about the heart and soul of the person, period.

http://themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com/2009/06/melting-pot.html

I wish you much luck....Amy

Ann said...

I wonder if Amelie's parents object because her boyfriend is black or because he is not part of their culture (not that there's a huge difference). Are your parents immigrants, Amelie? I know that for Americanized children of immigrants, it can be very difficult navigating traditional family expectations (which can be anything but subtle). There are no easy answers. I'm sure it will require some tough choices. Just try not to betray yourself as you work through it.

Amélie said...

Thanks Amy and Ann!! It's a little bit of both, I moved here with my family when I was a teenager, they are very traditional and I grew up with all different races. It's really difficult to talk to them about this issue as they won't listen at all. At least they let me continue to see him but there may be a chance that he will never meet them. I tried to tell my family to just see him once so at least they know what he looks like and all, they just say no, not a chance. And another problem I have to deal with is from the boyfriend side since he isn't accepted in my family, he's frustrated too because he values family the most and being in this situation just pushes him over the edge. It's so hard because I know he has to deal with racism on a daily basis, I don't want to bring it into our home. AHHHHHHHHH

Amy said...

Amelie,

Oh I just feel your pain. I can hear it in your post. I am so sorry. When my husband and I first got together and even after we married I had still never met his Mom. It took years for her to accept me...I mean years. What you have to do is just live your life with the person you love while still respecting your parents. They are coming from a very different world. Hopefully your boyfriend will understand that. I pray that one day they will see why he should be a part of their lives but until then just stay strong. Don't ever give up, minds can be changed even the most traditional ones. Does his family accept you?