Thursday, July 13, 2006

it boils down to this

I am afraid of black people.
Seeing a black person on the street makes me paranoid. And to make it even more ridiculous, there's two distinct levels to this paranoia. Level 1- Woops, I saw them. Where do I look? Do I look? Do they think I'm staring? Is it obvious that I've noticed them? Did I look away too soon? Do they think I'm being rude? Am I being rude?
This is general social paranoia, but cranked to extreme high volume because of the persons color. It's contemptible.

Level 2-Are they gang bangers? Do they look dangerous? Do they look like crime people? Are they poor? What's their hair like? Are they dressed all flashy?


By this time of course the black person is several miles away buying roofing nails at Lowes or something.

I was taught very early on in no uncertain terms that black people were bad. My father believed it. In his words, black people hated the whites because we had all the money and they had been slaves, and only the very lowest kind of black person ever had anything to do with white people. My mother? Was raped, beaten and thrown down a flight of stairs by a black man in New York back before she was married. She didn't like them either, no.

My personal experience? Every black person I have ever known, dated (one), been friends with, worked for and worked with has been pretty much just like me, an average everyday working slob. So personally? It's a non-issue on that level. But I don't trust that. And not trusting it makes me act like a dipshit. That fear is always in the back of my mind. 'You have to be extra, extra careful around black people', is what that fear is all about. The fear that you are going to say something stupid, sooner or later, something really ignorant and thoughtless, or display some kind of cultural bias you aren't even aware you have until you get that look and realize what a goddamn cracker you sound like. Princess Klanella Ofay of Trailerparkania. Oh hell yes, I've done it, too.

I am probably living in the same town with a fair variety of genuinely bad people, criminals and deviants, face it; if only by virtue of sheer odds, and living in Sumas means that the vast majority of those are going to be white. Do I worry about white people when I pass them on the street? I don't even give them a second thought.
Fuck this.

Now, I am not looking for absolution or explanations. I know exactly why I feel the way I do; it's real obvious that the larger portion is early indoctrination and the rest is too many music videos. Maybe what I'm doing here is residual catholic confessional compulsion or something. The fact remains that here I am, middle aged, tripping when I see a black person walking down the sidewalk. I don't know. It's all stupid.

30 comments:

  1. Ha Ha Ha...that made me laugh , because its so true , and I am also scared of radical femenists and or vegetarians in exactly the same way...I just know I am going to open my mouth to put my foot in it , and open it agian to insert the other one.
    Just the thought of a black femenist vegetarian makes me almost fill my pants .....

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  2. Serb/Croat, Protestant/Catholic, Jew/Palestinian, Hutu/Tutsi,Sunni/Shiite. Blues/Country.

    I like a bit of sectarianism. Nothing beats a bit of a huddle with your own than a bit of lashing out at the other.

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  3. First, I was going to ask how are you with the Jews? You know being one and all. Next, I give you credit for your honesty.

    Listen, I'll play the part of the priest (no not like that) to assuage your Catholic guilt:

    continue to look at this head on;
    do not impart these views to the gooneybird;
    stay away from the videos;
    and get the hell out of Whitelandia once in a while!

    Now go forth and sin no more.

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  4. my, oh my, ohio.
    isn't THIS a popular topic?

    beast:at one time in my mispent youth i was a red vegetarian feminist. i grew out of it. bacon is good. and living with an alaskan biker, you hear alllllll the smartass comments. which i ignore *yawn*
    garfy: well fine then. you just go and be scottish over there with all the other stuck up scottish persons and their dumb...scottish stuff. all, golfing and,uh, haggis, and stuff. fine.
    g: i've thought very, very seriously over the years about converting as a matter of fact. ever since i was a tiny little jewish lesbian. while the whole no bacon thing is a stumbling block (see above) i happily kept kosher for years when i was a vegetarian. and yeah; no shit i need to get out of whiteworld!

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  5. Oprah9:21 PM

    You rock !!!

    Go Girl!!!

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  6. Hm. I suspect I'm one of those white folks who'll say, 'But I marched for reconciliation!' when our Indigenous people (in Oz) finally use violence in their

    Maybe trying too hard not to be racist is just repulsive as outright racism. Maybe recognising it's a toughie is a start.

    Awesome post, as always. You shouldn't write so well. Commenting always seems totally lame.

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  7. What the?

    '...finally use violence in their quest for recognition.'

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  8. You've got more reason than most to get a little 'where the fucks my head' when you see a black fella....I live in a town that is predominantly white and it was only ten years ago that I met my first black fella ( I mean spent some time with), I just wanted to keep staring at him, how different he is, the way he spoke, the culture. So I have to prevent myself from staring so as not to offend.......all this out of 'cross culture curiosity'. It is very difficult to forgive and forget,not to pre judge a different race/culture.......and what 'it boils down to' is FEAR (that's another subject all together)! I wish you well.

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  9. I'm afraid of people with those awful orange suntans.

    And Americans too - because they're all potential murderers.

    And Canadians - because they're just too nice to be true (there has to be a mad axe murderer in there somewhere).

    And Beast - because he's ugly and has a tiny willy.

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  10. oprah: thanks! *jumping all over your sofa*
    mudlark: yeah, you have a good point. im not the type who goes so far in the opposite direction that i'm throwing money in their car as they go by, either, so maybe theres hope.
    jewel: welcome, jewel! isn't that something. what a trip! you're right about the fear.
    p&t: canadians ARE nice. all except for this one hog farmer up in kennewick who fed 23+ prostitutes to his pigs a couple of years ago. he was grouchy. and you are a typical cunt.

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  11. I have only one prejudice. I have a profound dislike of people.

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  12. Oprah reads blogs? man am I outta the loop!

    Well, yes I applaud your honesty and that awareness is priceless I think because there is always room for growth that way...

    Oooh! Beast! Run! I am Iranian/Danish, I hear there may be some black blood lines in a very distant Iranian relative, am vegetarian and a total feminist and I hate to break it to ya but we do bite! Grrr baby grrrr! ;-P

    Uh-oh! Am I safe? Ha, ha, haaa! Just a bohemian way of patting you on the back and applauding your realizations and desire to look in the mirror along your journey!

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  13. I went to see my friend out of town at the weekend and was struck when I got home that I hadn't seen one person that wasn't white while I had been away. I felt relieved to see people of different races on my return to London. I guess it's just something I'm used to.

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  14. Firt off, that Beast is very funny.

    I went to school with British born kids of Caribbean, Indian and Pakistan parents, in the 70s. We made friendships at school but there wasn't much house-inviting.

    For most of my life I've lived in British cities with a huge mix of peoples; it was quite a shock to turn up in mid-Florida. Looking for a church, I quickly left the completely white and snooty church nearest to me, unimpressed, and wandered off past the railway line to a great place where I was part of an almost completely Afro-American, Caribbean congregation.
    I was stunned because I saw what "other side of the tracks" means.

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  15. Do you know, I don't think "firt" is a real word.
    And adding - I think I spent the first year in the U.S experiencing things American that I'd read, seen in films, heard on records in tiny ways like the above.

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  16. gse:misanthropy. if you killed them and ate them it would be anthropophagy.
    mizB: beast bites indeed. thats the name of his blog! go there and have a bite together!
    rockmother: thats exactly how i felt when i first moved here. id never noticed white people before until i was surrounded.
    ara: i always wonder what seems 'american' to people from other countries. i think thats cool. im glad it hasn't been all clacking mandibles and crunching exoskeletons for you!

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  17. when i was growing up, my parents always referred to black folks as "colored people", which was fucking insane (still is). there were many black kids in my school, but it wasn't until my senior year that a black girl actually made the cheerleading squad (of which i was a member) that was the start of my "desentization"...

    a few years later, i had an interesting experience when i toured with a band, as one of the 2 singers. the other one was black. she was my roommate and, because neither of us drank (weird to be in a band, on the road, play in bars, and NOT be drinkers, but there you have it) we became very good friends. when we were not on the road, but were in rehearsal, i'd stay with her family in the black section of Ojai, California. when i tell you i was the only white girl on that street/in the store/at the clubs/mall/whatever, you must believe me. it certainly provided me with a different perspective, one i am forever grateful to have had.

    my goal, in raising my two sons, was for them to see people for who they really were (assholes/nice guys/whatever) and not for the color of their skin. so far so good....they're 22 and 25, so i'm thinking they're not gonna change their minds about such things anytime soon.

    i really admire and appreciate this post! and i never intended to leave such a long rambling comment, but once these floodgates were opened, i was helpless to stop my fingers from feverishly typing this out. but now i will stop. and promise you that next time i visit (for i will be back!) i will leave you a brief but heartfelt note... period! still... as i said a second ago, great post!!

    oh, and blame Doug for introducing me to you in the first place, and Gina for reminding me why i liked you so much (in the first place) and why i needed to come back! xox

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  18. Oooh! Neva was here! I looooveeee Lady Neva indeed!

    FN, you are a lesbian? I did not know that and am not surprised however for there is an energy about you that reminds me of my "surrogate mama", Mama E, whom I love dearly and whom you should check out. She is amazing and I think you will just love her!

    Have a great weekend!

    PS~ She was born a tiny Jewish lesbian too and is now a Jewish, Tibetan Buddhist adult lesbian. and she and my other surrogate mama and her love, Wonder Woman, were the ones who nursed me outta my dark place into my current, albeit healthy, state of nuttiness..

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  19. Meh. I live in NZ. Everyone's racist behind closed doors, but to the world it's all 'Kia ora' to the world but 'Bloody darkies living next door to me' in private. I'm serious. However, having grown up in Bradford and Leister, I couldn't care less. Well done for admitting it though. I won't continue, because the words 'fear and loathing' are rushing up v. fast.

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  20. Well, my experience is a little different - grew up with black people around and had two black playmates, Winston and Delroy (really!) and racism never was even thought about. I always remember how hot there house was, they had the heat going even in the summer. About 13-14 yrs old they started talking in Jamican patois and wearing tea coseys on there heads. Then you tend to gravitate to your own crowd.
    The experience of racism is different in England, we never had many slaves in this country just poor white people so the coloured people that arrived later were economic migrants here of their own choosing. I think that has had a positive impact on how we get on.

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  21. neva: howdy, neva! you go ahead and post as long a post as you like. this is liberty hall; you can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard.
    MizB: no, i am an agnostic bisexual. G refers to a post i did awhile back where i talked about how kids i grew up with assumed i was a jewish lesbian. and were very accepting of it; it was just that i wish someone had told me too, ya know?
    noshit: thats a trip. the epithet used is a damn trip too. referring to the native islanders, i'll assume. for the love of fuck, people.
    frobi: that is true. i saw that happen when my daughter was growing up. would you guys be able to sit and have a beer after all this time if you met by chance? it'd be cool if you could.

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  22. Ah! Well you are fascinating nonetheless and still might enjoy that link! Gracias for the explanation! An agnostic bisexual? I have been defined as a gay man trapped in a straight woman's body and I am sticking to that dammit! Funkified fo sho!

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  23. "gay man trapped in a straight womans body"

    That means your a slut Miz!

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  24. WOW such an honest post and a great one (again – love you) but I’m with Frob in that I grew up with many different races and cultures so I feel at home in a multi cultural enviroment. In fact an all white enviroment would scare me shitless, hence I live in the very multi-cultural Charminster in sunny Bournemouth.

    Saying “nigger” was as bad as saying “cunt” in our house. “Coloured people” is just not logical.

    Though your fear is not unjustified you do realise it’s irrational so that’s good, surely. I guess growing up gay and hearing all the fears, thoughts and homophobic jokes from all my friends and family about gay men forces me to adopt an EXTREMELY open mind and inclusion policy in all aspects of my life.

    FIRST NATIONS RULES!

    BEAST ROX!!

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  25. Frobisher~ perhaps but not in the "sleeps around sense"... in my case I am in a monogamous relationship and so it makes me quite the extra horny nymphomaniac alpha female who demands her sex you see... maybe in the wants-to-sleep-with-her-man-a-lot-as-in-all-the-time-around-the-clock-cause-that-man-is-so-yummy sense...

    Bohemians are nymphos like that you see!

    FN, I do like me your friends fo sho!

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  26. mizB: that is what's called a 'tittyfag'! i'm one too. i long for a pair of ruby slippers.
    frobi: no, a monogamous nympho. i can say that cuz i read her! you go read her too.
    hardhouse: well thank you my darling. i feel a little weird accepting congratulations for having admitted something dumbass, but thank you anyway. you rule too. now that we have established that you do, in fact, exist.
    MizB: they totally, totally do.

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  27. I grew up in the North East of England which didn't get the economic migrants that the South East of England (and especially migrants) got. As a result of this I was nearly 20 before I saw anyone who wasn't white. Before that the only black people I'd seen were the ones in the news reports about famine in Africa or, featuring in tv shows like Starsky and Hutch. It was a culture shock. I'm in complete agreement with jewel over that.

    I think that part of the problem is the way that the media portrayed the blacks (we can see it in the way that they're now portraying the Arabs) where the only definition you get of another culture or skintone is either criminal or object of our charity.

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  28. I used to live in Africa, and it was always very disconcerting when babies and toddlers would look at me, take in what they saw ...whiteness... and then eyes wide...mouth slowly yawning.. begin SCREAMING.
    The mothers always laughed at their children, in fact we'd all start laughing. It was obviously different from the reverse situation because there were no racist undertones... we all knew that the child had never seen a white person before because... well there weren't that many of us around and frankly white skin is a bit freaky if you're used to seeing black. And of course in these ex-colonies being white had a certain kudos.
    I think it took a year before I stopped seeing Africans as Africans, and started relating to people properly as people. It was like a clearing of vision: nothing was any longer, black or white, everything was shaded, and multi-coloured and complex... just like...well just like what it was... life.

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  29. hendrix: the definition thing is exactly right.
    katty: welcome! i've had that happen. poor babies! i'm getting a different view of south africa than what i once had.

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  30. Excellent, honest, thoughtful post. You know, I think most of us honkies have these feelings once in a while, mainly because it's built into the media/culture system. One sees "dangerous" black folks depicted so many times it becomes Pavlovian.

    I've had a somewhat different experience, as at age 6 I acquired a black stepfather and 5 half-black stepsiblings. He wasn't just black, either, but a 70s, dashiki-wearing, Malcolm-X-knowing activist type. He taught me about the evils of racism and how it exists in everyone, but at the same time it somewhat backfired, because it made me really notice when someone was black or white and also feel white guilt all the time. Growing up in a mostly black neighbourhood, I was constantly certain that I was terrible and all black people hated me because of the history of oppression and the colour of my skin.

    I imagine this is the way many black people have felt, too, amidst the caucasian throngs. We assume difference, and that the other person hates us for it. Sometimes we're right, sometimes we then discriminate against or avoid others because of that fear. The most important thing is to keep thinking, and not let that fear turn into hatred or sweeping judgment.

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