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I Kan't Spell



Friday, November 12, 2004

 
My Racist Experience of the Day

So I work in downtown Baltimore. Baltimore as a city, is very ethnic. It is about 65% African-American and the rest of the city, despite the middle-class college kid sections, are arrayed with blocks of ethno-centric circles. You can walk down streets in Baltimore and pick out Jewish blocks, Greek blocks, Italian blocks etc... The city is not as racist as some southern cities I have visited but it still is raised in a rather foggy southern backdrop. Growing up white and having your parents be lower middle class means that there is always blame of some sort. And since most people blame what they don't understand or that which is different from themselves, you become accustomed to all kinds of racial slurs. Because for some reason when I grew up I could have sworn it was all the black people in the world that made my father drink and gamble too much. At least that's what he said it was in one way or another.

As you grow older you sort of grow out of all the racist mumbo jumbo and just hate everyone. Despite the occasional racial joke still heard, you start to realize that all that crap you grew up around is pretty much bull shit. As you become more acclimated to the world you realize that everyone is to blame for your father's drinking and gambling, and not just the one's with the accents or the different colored skin.

Actually you come to realize that there are only two races; the rich and the poor. The poor, assuming the poor I'm talking about care, cling to things such as art, music, literature and friendship. These things are easily obtained and only take self-perseverance and dedication of the soul to allow into the life. The rich, while also attaining these things do it on a higher level and also involve leisure and power into the mix. It's the power and money that allow independence. It's the independence that allows the breaking of the chains of answering to someone else's beckon call. And their lies the difference; the poor answer to the call of the rich. So if you ever need to ask yourself which class you belong to, just think about whom it is you answer to. When you think of it that way it doesn't really have much to do with money does it?

Today I was standing in line at Song's chicken next to a strange sight. There was a white man next to me in a suit and tie. Song's chicken is located on the "Block" in Baltimore. "The Block" is the part of the city where people in ties don't go until it's after dark and they want to see some naked women. So he's standing next to me, and since he's wearing a tie and is of my same ethnic background I feel more comfortable in engaging him. Usually I just go in there, say "hello" and "thank you" in Korean and take my two thighs and a breast and scoot on back to work. But today I thought I would share an observation with this man:
    Me: "Oh man it's 12:00. We are going to get last night's chicken"
    Whitey: "Yeah."
    Me: "I hate that. You see how the wings are golden brown and my breast there is just turd brown?"
    Cracker: "I hate when they do that. Hey you look like a smart guy. Where do you work?"
    Me: "Umm around the corner."
    Casper: "Fucking Ni***rs can't get anything right can they."
    - - - My eyes lifted: Not only in confusion/anger about what he said but in fear that I may get smoked because this was a predominantly black establishment. As a matter of fact I had never seen another white patron in here besides myself. And secondly it was all Koreans that worked here. - - -
    Me: "Dude, these are all Asian people working here. Koreans actually. "
    Peckerwood: "Oh yeah. I bet they got a couple jigs in the back though."
    Me: "Hey guy (in a rather exasperated tone), man...are you from around here?"
    Honkey: "Nope I'm from PA (actually said the letters P - A)."
    Me: "Yeah well, good luck out there man. I’d probably keep that tongue inside your mouth until it gets a tad more cipher out."
    Dead Honkey: "Hey, take care buddy."
    Me: "Uh huh."

It wasn't the racial slur reference that really got to me. It was this comment
    "I hate when they do that. Hey you look like a smart guy."
You see far too often white people, when placed in an awkward situation that involves them as the minority will search out for another white face to find comfort in. All races do this. But, I find that more oft then not, my piss poor race will often use strange code language such as illustrated above. When attempting to build that bridge of solidarity and comfort between another person of his assumed ilk you will often catch these pseudonyms.
"I hate when they do that" = "I hate anyone not like you or I"
"Hey you look like a smart guy" = "Hey you are white so that means we can equally share our deep seeded prejudices without feeling awkward and at the same time we can find comfort in each other because we seem to be out numbered by the darkies."

Anyway, it made me think about some stuff. I don't consider myself a racist person. I grew up in an environment laced with hate and unfortunately as a child one of the reasons for that hate was apparently people of other races. Now, while I don't believe it now, you are still filled with all the stereotypes and analogies that accompany racism. Those things are hard to erase or change. Fortunately, I have people like Whitey, which today reminded me just how different I really am sometimes.


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