Yes, I encountered the full monty of racism this weekend. It was as ugly and disgusting as it could be, and it took a lot for me to keep my mouth shut.
I hadn't thought about it in a political context, however, until I read "I shot me a n****r" by kossack Kristina40.
It's easy to shake one's head in disgust and complain to friends about instances of blatant racism. Too easy. And as Kristina40 says, it's time to stop turning away. It needs to be confronted. Racists need to be called out.
My question to you: How?
For some background, I should tell you that I'm no virgin to bigoted behavior.
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I saw and heard plenty of racist statements, mostly from people who should have known better. While I can't speak for them, many of the kids I knew back then are still my friends now, and they appear to have shed the low-level racism that seemed to pop out of their mouths as tweens and teenagers.
My maternal grandmother refused to speak to me when she discovered that I had secured my first job as an English teacher in the Chicago Public Schools; I had no business "teaching n****rs." I had been hearing racial slurs from her all my life, so this came as no surprise. When she left me a sizable chunk of money upon her passing in 2008, I immediately donated over $2k to Barack Obama's campaign. I'm still glad I did.
Of course, there's always been racism, especially in Chicago. But something seems to have shifted. I don't know if I'm being hypersensitive, but my perception is that more people are becoming militant about their racism.
Here's what happened on Saturday. I have a cat with a thyroid problem and impending kidney failure, so I drove to my vet's office on the far northwest side of the city that morning at about 11 accompanied by my girlfriend, who happens to be the mother of two beautiful biracial children [Editorial note: Both children are hers from a previous relationship. Thankfully, the kids were not in the car when this happened]. While she waited in the car, I ran into the vet's office to pick up prescription food and some medicine.
As I was standing at the front desk waiting for the vet's assistant to bring the case of food, I heard a woman and a man talking in the waiting room seats behind me.
"If you look at a map on that site, it shows you all the murders and crimes," said the man. "Up north, we have one or two red dots, but south of Division, it's nothing but red."
"Oh, yes," said the woman emphatically, "and now they're coming up here to attack people! It used to be safe when they stayed on the south and west sides. But now, they want what we have, and they don't care."
At this point, I realized that I was gripping the counter of the receptionist's desk. The veterinary assistant was talking to me about the cat food, but I was staring at her without listening.
"You know what?" said the woman, "When I hear about them shooting each other, I think, 'Good!' I don't even care when the kids get shot. Let 'em kill each other. That's fewer of them to come up here."
At this point, I signed the receipt for the food and turned to speed out of there. My path was blocked by the veterinarian, who had come out to discuss this woman's cat. The vet told her that the cat was badly dehydrated, but would probably be okay.
"Oh, thank you!" said the woman. "I've been praying and praying for him. I knew God would watch out for us."
I just about screamed. Instead, I walked around them and got in the car. I was careful to wait until we were driving on the expressway before telling my girlfriend this story, who pretty much lost her mind when I told her. She wanted to go back and kick the stuffing out of that bigot.
Anyway, kossacks, I agree with Kristina40. People like that are getting too comfortable, and too militant. How do we fight back? Should I have confronted that woman at the vet's office? If so, how?
Whoa, the rec list? I'm going to celebrate with bacon! Thanks!