The Most Racist Thing That Ever Happened

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About Jackie Summers

Jackie Summers is an author and entrepreneur. His blog F*cking in Brooklyn chronicles his quest to become a person worthy of love. His company, Jack From Brooklyn, Inc. houses his creative and entrepreneurial enterprises. Follow him on Twitter @jackfrombkln and friend him on Facebook

Comments

  1. Wild Rebel says:

    I’ve had racism aimed at me before, but it was mostly minor annoyances and not anything too serious. As far as I know I haven’t been passed over for jobs yet due to being white for affirmative action/equal opportunity reasons (I do know at least one person who was flat-out told in an interview they weren’t getting a job because the employer needed “a white woman”…racism and sexism at the same time). I usually don’t tell my race unless it’s for descriptive purposes. My mother works at a place where most employees are black and has had things said and done to her that would have gotten her fired years ago if she did them in reverse, and probably gotten her beat down too, but fortunately there are enough people there who don’t judge by race that she’s been able to make it fine.

    (One other interesting note from my mom: she’s noticed many of the people who gripe and complain about how white people treat them will often turn right around and bash Hispanics and Asians mercilessly. Irony defined…or maybe hypocrisy fits better).

    The biggest issue I have to deal with involving racism is that I’m a white Southerner and therefore automatically racist according to many people. Interestingly, most of the people who accuse me of that happen to be white Northerners, not blacks or other people who would qualify as minorities living around here, although that does happen once in a while. I guess they’re trying to feel better about themselves. You do have to wonder about the legitimacy of people who fight one form of bigotry with another. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never met white racists, as there are a few in my own family, but most people aren’t that way.

    On that note, the reason no one admits to being racist, besides the fact it’s not exactly a popular opinion to hold anymore, is because in this day and age, if you wait around long enough (about 10 minutes is usually enough time–obviously an exaggeration but you get the idea) somebody else will come along and tell you you’re racist for you, whether you are or aren’t actually racist. There really isn’t a reason to claim to be racist when other people will undoubtedly do the work for you.

  2. Funny, I just was talking to someone about this today. First and foremost, the way President Obama is being treated is totally racist. And the victims of this racism are the American people. Nothing good can come from bad feelings. I love your writing style and what you wrote. People need to see people for who they really are, not just the outward skins in which we’re temporarily clothed. I retired and moved to Texas 13 years ago and applied for a job teaching art at a Baptist school. I was asked if I was a Christian and said that I had no problem with people of any religion and that mine was just to get as close as I could to the path that would help the most. She looked at me and repeated her question. I told her I’m Jewish ethnically but follow my own spiritual proclivities. Basically, I was told I couldn’t take the job. But it was to teach art, not religion! I was qualified to do that! A few months later, I went to a church to audition for the pastor to play piano for the choir. Again, qualified. I played for about 15 minutes and he asked the same question as the Baptist lady. I was stunned. I’d only be playing piano, not advising people in a religious capacity. He said that my name sounded Jewish and I told him it was. He told me that I played beautifully, but he couldn’t hire a non-Christian. Why are these people so afraid of us? Do they think that I have the right answer and will infect his parishioners with the truth? There is no truth, just perception.

    • Wild Rebel says:

      Not to be a jerk here, but shouldn’t common sense tell you that religious/faith based organizations expect their members to be believers of (insert faith here, in this case Christian)? That’s especially the case in a church. As a Christin myself I wouldn’t expect to find employment in an Islamic organization, for instance. Since this was an article about race, I find it a little bit analogous to how minority organizations expect their members to be someone of that minority ancestry (for instance, the Black Caucus political group wouldn’t let in a white politician near here despite the fact he represents a black-majority voting district).

  3. Nice piece.
    But the line: “you can ride the subways at 3 A.M. and not have to worry about being attacked” is false. Black men are far more likely to be victims of crime than white men, or women. Even on the subway at 3 a.m.

  4. I am 5 years old 1957 … my teacher is African American and day 3 in school my mom notices who MIss Hyde is inside the school…. we go home and mom tells dad …. He says ANOTHER NIGGER ! Mom says NOW DAD… THEY’RE colored… she turns to me and says YOU BE SURE AND CALL HER COLORED I answered I CALL HER MY TEACHER …. this is not the most racist thing happening to me 843-926-1750 @AtheistVet

  5. The latest one to appear on BBC News in England, is the whole town who won’t admit to being racist. A black woman had to put a sign outside her cafe to warn people that she ‘doesn’t bite”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-23260860

  6. Tom Brechlin says:

    According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 31 percent of blacks think that most blacks are racists, while 24 percent of blacks think that most whites are racist.
    Among whites, according to the same Rasmussen poll, 38 percent consider most blacks racist and 10 percent consider most whites racist.
    Broken down by politics, the same poll showed that 49 percent of Republicans consider most blacks racist, as do 36 percent of independents and 29 percent of Democrats.
    29 percent of Americans as a whole think race relations are getting better, while 32 percent think race relations are getting worse.

  7. Tom Brechlin says:

    Most racist thing that ever happen to me was in high school where I was beat up in my Freshman year by three other students. I kinda figured that it was planned because strangely enough, a “friend” of mine offered to carry my books that day. He disappeared and left them on the ground. That was back in 1969. Once fellow students got to know me, things changed after that. Sophomore year they nick-named me “The Great White Hope.” Didn’t I mention that I’m white and I went to a predominantly black school? We often laughed back then about how I made the “mixed choir” mixed because I was the only white in the choir.

  8. Even though I am not a POC, I was given a taste of racism, and it took me five years to figure out. Not that ‘reverse racism’ crap, but genuine racism, because I was perceived to be a POC.

    My boyfriend is Latino, and has a hyphenated last name, consisting of his parents’ names. One of them is French in origin, and he told me he will fill out job applications using the French name only, and he will get many more callbacks, because he will not be read as Latino. It made me think of a stretch of time, when I was unemployed for months, and living in an area with a lot more racism. Though I am not Latino, my last name is Italian, and I am often asked if I am Latino. I didn’t get a job until I applied further out, and in areas where diversity is more accepted.

    This is how easy it is to be racist, and hide it.

  9. So I’m just going to share a story from the other side of this equation – having an “Oh snap, I said something racist!” moment.

    I’m about 20 years old, 2007, working in a newsroom as a web content producer. The newsroom has a very open layout, and on the night shift with many cubes empty, it’s pretty quiet – we’re accustomed to shouting over cubicle walls to each other.
    My assignment that night was to compile a photo gallery of the red carpet at the NAACP Awards – always good for clicks. It was wintertime and bitter cold in Ohio. As I downloaded photo after photo of celebrities in sleeveless gowns and sandals, I shouted over my shoulder to a coworker, “It must be so nice and warm in LA for them to be able to wear things like this. I wish I were there.”
    Coworker said something benign like “That would be nice.”

    I continued on, with no forethought, “Oh, but I don’t think I could go to the NAACP awards, with how pale I am I’d stick out like a sore thumb.”

    In the next cubicle section, one of the copy editors, a black man, cleared his throat very loudly and deliberately. And I must have turned every shade of red.

    Being a redhead, I’m totally used to referring to my ultra-fair skin in casual conversation. I even semi-advocate for good skin care for everybody, based on what I’ve had to learn to prevent sun damage myself – I’m always the one in the group who’s harping about everyone having sunscreen. I don’t say this to excuse my comment, of course, just kind of explaining why I might even say anything like that in the first place. In my head it wasn’t automatically a racial thing, but referring to the actual shade of white that I am.

    That might not be the most racist thing I’ve ever said, but it’s a memorable one. The only comments I ever get about my outward appearance relate to my red hair, I’ve been asked if I’m Irish countless times (not really racial) and have heard some red-headed stepchild/bastard jokes – when my family was out in public, people often winked at my red-headed dad and asked “Oh, where’d those kids get that hair from?” and my dad would sometimes reply “The milkman, obviously!” But seriously, that’s the worst I’ve got, and again, not really racial at all.

    I do own that I’m at least a little racist but I don’t wear it on my sleeve, I’m ashamed of it and try to catch myself, and educate myself. Articles like this, I really enjoy and feel I benefit from. Thanks for writing it!

  10. Christine says:

    Your writing is powerful. Being white, the only way I can relate is that I am a woman. But, mostly that I am loathe to admit I am a racist. Humans are meaning making machines. It seems impossible to remain innocent.

  11. TASCHA PASSION says:

    Let’s eat those white gummy bears!! :)

  12. I noticed this once I went through a feminist phase, I realized that I had been sexist against myself. So, i took that thought and realized that I was also racist (including against myself – I’m a quarter south american with none of the culture and the rest of me is assorted sources of white). So I manned up (so to speak) and started saying I was racist, it’s helped a lot. First admit that you have a problem, then you can fix it. I really sincerely believe that people that want to fight racism need to start sharing their stories about how they overcame some small bit of their own internalized racism.

    I guess the most racist thing that could have happened to me, is not getting a job because of my last name on a resume. So when I got married, I changed it to my husband’s name, not because I believed I had to for the “sanctity of marriage” but because I wanted to eliminate the possibility of that extra bit of racial discrimination. I actually regret it now for a number of reasons.

  13. One of the funniest questions I was ever asked came from a black woman who said, “I don’t want to
    sound racist, but why do white people need so much ammo?” I was accused of being anti-Semetic
    because I questioned foreign aid to Israel. My response was that I feel the same way about Iraq,
    Afghanistan, South Korea and Colombia. Does that make me a racist ?

  14. This is a great read. Really wonderfully written and thought provoking. Personally, I’m white, I don’t know what it’s like to experience racism toward myself. I did however live with racism in a way and that has made me resent the concept that everyone’s racist.

    My father is a stereotype of what everyone expects racism to be. Hearing the constant berating of absolutely everyone because of their skin color, religion, financial status, sexual orientation, life decisions etc. You name it, he will very vocally tear it apart. The kinds of things I heard daily are things that most racists say behind closed doors. I remember being 10 and my mom telling me how she wanted to date a black boy when she was young and her mom told her that her belongings would be on the porch when she came back from her date. That stuck with me, and as I grasped the concept of my father’s racism as I got older, I asked my mom if my dad would hate me if I dated someone of a different race. She told me he’d never accept it and he’s “have a problem” with it.

    They call themselves Christians, they believe they are good people, and in a lot of ways beyond their personal opinions they are. However, that upbringing really made me a different person from them. I find myself in absolute disgust with the things they say and I’ve learned to speak up against what they say, to the point that they just don’t say anything around me now. I wish they could see how damaged their views are, but the problem is they don’t and they probably never will. The only good that came of it was I learned to find my own opinion separate from theirs, really I deciphered right from wrong in my own heart and I do everything in my power to help my kids understand acceptance and a compassionate disposition.

  15. It’s not that nobody ever admits to being racist, but that those generally accused of being racist (mostly whites, sometimes justly in individual cases) have decided that racism no longer exists — ever, under any circumstance, unless in the reverse — and that they collectively don’t want to hear about it anymore. Any discussion of racism is generally shut down immediately with statements like “well, that’s happened to me a bunch of times”, “look at all the programs dedicated to fixing this”, “oh, hear we go again”, or “this is PC run amok!”. To be fair, those too quick to deem certain things racist have no doubt worn some people down overtime, but I’m not sure that excuses the notion we’re now seeing increasingly that racism is over and that all discussion of the subject is just whining and bitterness.

  16. I am white and male. That pretty much puts me statistically at the top of the American food chain. I enjoy boatloads of unearned privilege and am quite aware of how that privilege comes at the cost of others who are not like me. I admit to being a racist because of this unearned privilege. I never have to worry about wearing a hoodie, walking my daughter to school; finding foods at the store that are ethnically and culturally white; or having to worry when a white police officer stops me. I regret that we live in the most unacknowledged racist society probably in the world. I’m aware that 9-11 million children from Africa will die this year due to AIDS or malnutrition. If this happened in Wisconsin or France, do you think more would be done than what is happening in Africa? I’m about leveling out the playing field…and at times am at a loss of how to do it. Knowledge, Wisdom, Truth and Compassion appear to be the best we whites can do. Unconscious racism is perhaps more toxic than the overt kind. I can’t imagine what it is like for any minority…black, brown, red, gay, bi, trans, women, handicapped, and class…etc. Thanks for pushing the conversation forward and I know that this article has a cost too.

  17. Great article! Quite the experiences and the your ability to describe them was masterful.

  18. Great article. I do find that in terms of daily life racism has improved, but I think because of Facebook, more racists feel empowered to speak their minds. Anybody can make up an account with little or no personal information and spew ignorance. I have been trying to ignore these people. I’ve also found that more and more people want to ignore it by saying ‘I don’t see race – just the human race’ etc.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] At The Good Men Project, we love nothing better than a good story. And we’re particularly thrilled when stories beget stories. Even when they are about racism. Scratch that. Especially when they’re about racism. These were excerpted from our comment section on Jackie Summer’s post: The Most Racist Thing That (N)ever Happened. [...]

  2. [...] next 127 hours of my life might as have well have been 127 years. I’d had a previous–entirely unwarranted–encounter with central booking once before, having been incarcerated for 12 hours without being charged. I knew to be extra [...]

  3. [...] topics far beyond the realm of romance. Before I knew it, I was deeply engaged in discussions on race, gender, class, and a plethora of other incredibly difficult subjects. Having already discussed [...]

  4. [...] The Most Racist Thing That Ever Happened [...]

  5. [...] Jackie Summers has identified the most troubling thing about racism these days: no one ever admits to being racist.  [...]

  6. [...] profiling and what happens to people because of the color of their skin. I read this article and this article today and nothing like this has ever happened to me. The most racist thing that has ever happened [...]

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