Races and Faces and Personal Spaces

by Naomi Pearson. 0 Comments

How easy it is to say, “It’s because of my race.”

 

One of my good friends (who is not a minority) said that he thinks people are too quick to blame racism for every unpleasantness they experience. While I think he has no clue about what it’s really like to experience the pervasiveness of racial bigotry in either its blatant or subtle forms, he may have a point.

 

Did someone give you the “stink-eye” as you passed on the street? Maybe it’s not because you are black.  It might be because they thought you were scowling at them. And that might just be a misinterpretation on his or her part, because your scowl was a result of the sun shining directly into your eyes and had nothing to do with that person.

 

Nobody seems to willingly sit next to you on the bus? As the commenter on my last post said, “It seemed I was the only white person on the bus (I swear the empty seat next to me was the last to be filled...no black/Hispanic person wanted to sit next to me since I was white).”  Perhaps it wasn’t really a race thing; sometimes it’s an unfamiliar person/stranger/personal space thing. When I lived in Philadelphia , I was NOT the only person of color on the buses in my neighborhood and during my first year of bus-riding, NOBODY willingly sat next to me if there were any other open seats. But when I became recognized as a regular, during the next year and beyond, folks began to not only sit next to me, but to strike up conversations and offer friendship.

 

Does it seem like some salespeople don’t really want to help you? It might not be that they look down on Latinos; they may just have difficulty understanding your accent and are either too impatient or too embarrassed to take the time. I’m not saying it’s a good reason, just that it’s not a racial one – they’d do the same to anyone with an accent they are unfamiliar with, even if the person is from another county , let alone from another country.

 

Every so often, when I’m feeling like a victim of racism or that I’m being treated unfairly, I’ll catch my reflection in a window or something and realize that I have a whole aura and expression full of “Buzz off,” “Up yours,” or “All-purpose Grump.” And then I smile and find that things usually turn around immediately.

 

So I try to remind myself: It’s not necessarily my race (although sometimes it is), but it definitely could be my face.

 

 

 

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