Bad Advice On Racism At The Gym

By The Bad Advisor

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Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“Recently, my wife and I went dancing with my friend ‘Dick’ and his wife. While I was in the middle of a conversation with Dick, my wife kept trying to interrupt. She even laid her hand on my arm to try to get my attention. I ignored her and told her later she had been rude to try to interrupt my conversation. She thinks I disrespected her and our marriage by putting conversation with my friend above her. This happens often when the four of us are together.
Am I being insensitive to my wife’s feelings? We frequently disagree, but we have been married 44 years. Your input would be appreciated.”
-From “ALWAYS A LOVING HUSBAND” via “Dear Abby,” 15 December 2016

Dear Always a Loving Husband,

I can think of no fouler intrusion into the sacred male space of the dance club than a wife’s desperate attempt to control the attention of her husband by — the mind, the gut, the very heart reels at the prospect — laying her cruel claws upon, of all his most delicate and private places, his arm. Men go on double dates to the dance club with their wives to have private, exclusive conversations with other men, not to have group interactions that include speaking with, to, or near their wives, or acknowledging their wives’ presence, or giving them really any inkling whatsoever that their physical or intellectual contributions to the evening are either necessary or appreciated.

Men don’t want group interactions that include speaking with, to, or near their wives.

If you wanted to have your exclusive, mano-a-mano conversations with your dudebros interrupted by the harpy whining of the needy women invited to accompany you, you wouldn’t go to a public entertainment establishment wherein people are expected to interact socially with each other. If your wife is so anxious to have a conversation with you and your friends, she should suggest a more appropriate venue, such as an ongoing church service or a single-room occupancy toilet at the library.

“I asked a familiar-looking, elegant woman at the gym if her name was Maria, an old and well-liked acquaintance I had not seen for years. I am a white woman, the person I asked was Hispanic. She replied, ‘No, my name is Vangie. We all look alike.’ I was PO’d, and I want to challenge her regarding all the assumptions she engaged in when making that reply next time I see her. Should I just let it drop?”
-Via “Dear Prudence,” Slate, 12 December 2016

Let it drop? Let it drop? And allow a single instance of a white person experiencing the most minutely negative consequences to doing a sort of racist thing exist in the world without specific and public recompense for their hurt feelings?

Look, nobody here is saying that racism is a good thing. Racism is definitely bad, and whenever racism happens — that is to say, when the Ku Klux Klan meets and does their racist things in the Southern United States, where all the racists live, together, doing racist things — it hurts people. Nobody’s trying to argue different!

And sure, a lot of people of color spend their lives dealing with white folks who see them (like, literally) as interchangeable, but that doesn’t mean you, a self-avowed definitely not racist person who is uniquely immune to racial biases both implicit and explicit because you said so, aren’t owed a public apology by this sassy brown woman who absolutely must be confronted the next time she’s on the elliptical machine.

This sassy brown woman absolutely must be confronted the next time she’s on the elliptical machine.

Everyone is so worried about racism, but do they ever stop to think what a gentle corrective to a racially charged assumption does to the delicate feels of our sisters and brothers of pallor? The deep hurt you felt when you were not immediately welcomed with joyous generosity by the brown person you deigned to speak to at the gym? And after you called her elegant, too?????

Demanding an explanation and apology from this lady while she’s exercising is the surest way to convince her and your adoring public that it is, in fact, she who is inappropriately fixated on racial issues.

“My oldest friend died suddenly last month. I will see his longtime wife when I go home for the holidays. I am having a hard time with this loss, especially as I remember how sharply his wife spoke to him, often with a nasty tone. I should have stuck up for him when he alive, but I didn’t. Can I say something now?”
-From “ANONYMOUS” via “Social Q’s,” New York Times, 15 December 2016

Dear Anonymous,

There’s never a bad time to yell at widows, but Christmas is an especially festive occasion just ripe for a lengthy dressing-down of someone whose longtime husband has recently and suddenly died. Maybe it’s the shimmering lights in the trees or the sound of children’s voices caroling through the air, but nothing complements the dulcet tones of “SAMANTHA, YOU RANK BITCH!” echoing ‘cross the town square like the season of giving.

There’s never a bad time to yell at widows.

And there’s no time like the present (get it? It’s a Christmas reference, because it’s Christmas time, the time to open gifts and issue scathing takedowns of bereaved women) to stand up for a dead person, since dead people are famously appreciative of their friends’ and families’ efforts to make up for all the crap they were put through in life. “This grave is cold and full of worms,” your dead friend will say, “but I am conscious and thankful that my friend finally took the opportunity of my non-existence to decide it was time I got treated like the valuable person I am!”

Please, don’t hesitate to confront this grieving lady about her attitude; in the immediate aftermath of the death of a man she was married to for many years, her first priority is undoubtedly admitting her mistakes and changing her ways — or at least, the person she speaks sharply to.

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