I met a racist today
Earlier today I was driving a couple of people back home from a family function. It began when she, we’ll call her Ms. Fuckface, made an unexpected comment, and I’m paraphrasing:
Ugh, can’t believe someone named Shaniqwa is moving to our neighborhood.
That really surprised me. It was coming from someone I’d met a few times and liked. And she was young. Not an out of touch older relative. It looked like she was getting a condo association email introducing a new member of the community. I couldn't help myself, so I followed up with questions like:
What do you mean?
Why is this a problem?
Why do you feel this way?
Have you ever had a black neighbor?
The answers were like the ones below (again, paraphrasing):
Do you really want me to answer that?
Because she’ll probably have a yard sale going on every week!
Because there were two black guys before who broke into all the cars in the neighborhood.
I didn't know how to proceed. So I asked Ms. Fuckface whether she had ever heard of anecdotal evidence. She seemed to confuse that term with incriminating evidence, which, she stated, proved that black people had broken into her car. Justifying her sentiment towards all back people.
When I clarified what anecdotal evidence meant (leaving the link with its full definition here in case Ms. Fuckface reads this) she replied with, in my opinion, one of the ultimate racist responses:
I’m sure there are good black people out there. But I’m just calling it like it is.
It’s difficult to even begin to decipher the sentiment above. So I won’t. But we can probably agree that it is full of hate and prejudice.
I’m sure people meet racists everyday. Often in conditions or with outcomes worse than mine. But I felt tremendously bothered by it. Specially how it’s this banal form of racism that permeates many of our communities in America. I tried to reason with Ms. Fuckface and explain how she was being a bit racist (I was trying to connect). And that it was incredibly unfair how she was treating her new neighbor, whom she hadn’t even met yet. But unfortunately, I believe I lost that battle.
In the end, I kept thinking about Shaniqwa, and how excited she must be about her new home and to meet her new neighbors. And how these feelings could come crashing down when Shaniqwa met Ms. Fuckface. I hope this doesn’t happen. And that Ms. Fuckface keeps her racism to herself. And that Shaniqwa has a long and fruitful experience in her new community.
But we should do more to fight banal racism. Much more. Right now, I don’t know what else to do. So I wrote this. I hope it inspires others to push back and to stand up to banal racism.