I came to California when I was 19 for school and the girls; mostly the latter. A young man can only watch so much Baywatch and Beverly Hills 90210 before Connecticut starts to look like a dull place. I had a friend here who had a black friend, who became my friend by proxy. He was friendly, funny and was always up for hanging out or going camping or hiking with us. I thought he was cool. He would share stories of racism with us from time to time but over time I noticed a pattern in his stories. They were complaints that we all have, and when I say “we” I mean white people, but the underlying causes for his complaints always boiled down to racism.
It occurred to me way back then….this is why minorities think racism is everywhere. What white people see as plain ‘ol reality, minorities see as outright racism.
My opinion since that day, which I believe in very strongly, is that for white people, incidents of poor customer service, rudeness, inconsiderate jerks, arrogance, failing to land a job, getting the wrong change back, road rage from others, being cut in line…these are all events in life that white people chalk up to the basic reality that there are various levels of decency, efficiency and politeness in the world, and we often come in contact with people who are inconsiderate, rude, don’t care about their jobs or are just having a bad day. When treated badly by such people, white people simply chalk it up to the way it is. To reality. But when minorities are treated like this by – not so coincidentally since we are 70% of the population – a white person…it’s often seen as racism.
I can see how this happened. When you grow up constantly being told that racism is behind every corner, under every rock, up every tree, and if your family or parents blame so much of what has went wrong in their lives as you grow up on racism – you simply assume, starting at a young age, that hiccups in how people treat you must be racism. White people on the other hand, including myself, were never told about racism – and our parents, who had their share of problems while we grew up, never had the racism excuse for why bad things happened. White kids grow up knowing that life isn’t fair, that bad things happen for no good reason, and that the world is full of shitty people who won’t treat you right. But for black kids and other minorities, what white kids call “the world we live in,” they call “racism.”
Add to this false preconceived notion the incessant media, politicians, race-baiters, shakedown artists and social media groupthink that perpetually beats the drum of race and class hatred and it is almost impossible to believe anything else but rampant racism existing behind every tree. But that is simply not the case. That is not the reality. That is your conditioning, and I am asking you to stop, pause, and think for yourself.
If you are a minority, I just want you to stop and consider for a moment when someone treats you in way that is less than your expectation – is it more likely that they are distracted, bad at their job, bored, angry or maybe you remind them of an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend versus it being racism? I know the easy, and quick, and self-gratifying excuse is to assume one of those racists just crawled out from under a rock and beat you with it – but that has the least likelihood of being true.
I understand that as social creatures, we want to understand why someone would treat us negatively, or less than we expect to be treated, or less than we would treat them in turn, because we feel slighted and hurt by it. We want people to like us and to treat us well and we naturally scramble to find a reason when it doesn’t happen. Blaming racism is the aloe vera that soothes that burn, but that’s the lazy, reflexive excuse we’ve been conditioned by the world around us to leap to as the one and only possibility. Reject your programming.
Now…will some people treat you negatively due to racism, sure, I will never say it doesn’t exist because it will always exist, but what I am saying is that out of the 64 times in your life that someone forgot to put napkins in with your McDonalds order, was not also 64 times of you coming across a racist. And that goes for the thousands of other times that someone was inconsiderate to you.
People suck – of all colors. Deal with it. It’s not racism.
Categories: Government Failures