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We Live in a World of Gray

by ezy at 12:43 PM on May 28, 2004

I, just recently, have had to face something about myself I never thought I would. I am a racist of sorts. I don't parade around in sheets burning crosses or yell nigger, spic, wetback, gook, nip or any of the other hate names whenever I see someone who happens to be a different race than me but I am a racist just the same. Adamís post made me think about this and I was going to post it last week but chickened out. So, here goes.

I have been having a problem, at times, resigning myself to the fact that Amy dated a black man in college. Amy sees no colors, just people. I thought I did too until I had it right in my face. I have plenty of black friends and they have had white girlfriends at one time or another and I would protect their relationship with all I have. My best friend in high school, Reggie, was black and always had white girlfriends. I fought rednecks with him side by side over that fact the entire four years I was in high school with him. Weíd win some, lose some, but I was always there. I have never had anyone brand me a racist and have always dealt with people on their merits, not their skin color so this has been fucking with me pretty hard. I know I am better than this.

I think it probably has a lot to do with where I am from. There is still a lot of racism in my hometown which disgusts me. Growing up immersed in that culture evidently arms you with habits you donít even realize. I, honestly, have no idea of why this should bother me at all. All I know is that sometimes it does. Iím not an ignorant person who believes all of the myths surrounding black men so that isnít it. It has gotten easier over the past year as I rationalize and deal with it but I just canít understand why it became an issue in the first place. Amyís friend, Caroline, is dating a black man. He was a marine and we hit it off famously. I brought it up to him to get another perspective on it. He told me that he didnít think I was a racist and that it was damned refreshing for a white man to be able to be that honest about a racial issue. We do tiptoe around race like leprosy or something. Everyone is so worried about saying the wrong thing or being branded a racist that we just never bring it up. How can we move forward and eliminate hatred and ignorance if we never address the issue?

Well, I still havenít figured it out totally but I canít help feeling like an ass every time it pops in my head. I now realize that I still have a lot of work to do to be the person I eventually want to become.

comments (13)

Speaking just from my own jacked up frame of reference... are you sure it has anything to do with him being black? Are you sure it's not just that another man was with your girl? I only ask because (a) I am irrationally jealous of pink thong whore and (b) you never struck me as even a closeted racist.

by Linz at May 28, 2004 1:47 PM

I'm not sure Linz. I believe it's because he's black and that is something I was taught from a young age to be wrong. Interracial dating was severly frowned upon where I grew up. I never knew my father to be a racist, in fact he always told me that people were either assholes or the weren't and that it was never race or gender specific, but he opposed interracial dating. I remember when I was fifteen or so I got caught shagging a black girl, Ronlyn Brown, by my Mom. I thought I had locked the door but, unfortunately, that wasn't the case. She was not a happy camper. Mom had many black friends and was never considered a racist so her reaction confused me at the time. I don't know Linz, maybe it's just some deeply ingrained shit that I have to get rid of. I don't know.

by Ezy at May 28, 2004 2:16 PM

Many supposedly enlightened people seem to have issues about this sort of thing. Albeit a long time ago I dated a Korean chick who lived in the mostly Asian section of South Arlington. It's a real vibrant neighborhood and we liked to stroll the streets sampling the wares. But there was this whole hostile vibe replete with guys hollering stuff in Korean and her saying not to worry about it, they were just ignorant. Even my own family took me aside and were like, you know, this probably isn't such a good idea. Who knows?

by anna at May 28, 2004 8:13 PM

Racism provides such an easy outlet for anger, jealousy, insecurity, whatever negative feelings plague us, I think it can be a real struggle to refrain from dumping those things on easy targets, regardless of where one grew up. I was raised in and around Berkeley (Ca.), and really was never exposed to any form of racism. It was not until a few years ago, about the same time I started generally feeling stressed about life and my relationships and money and getting old etc, etc, that I found in myself the inclination to dislike people I didn't know, which included bad drivers, customers (at my job), and, yes, those of one certain ethnic group. I have still yet to say a bad thing about any of these people, or even hint at my feelings, but I do feel a certain sense of satisfaction when I hear others expressing the sentiments I'm so afraid of in myself. Yuch!

by Rebekah at May 28, 2004 9:09 PM

I don't think you're a racist, Ezy. I think what you're going through now is just crap you inherited by growing up around people who felt that way. You do know it's wrong and you are fighting it, so I think you're doing good.

by jean at May 29, 2004 4:00 AM

I saw something the other day that lifted my spirits: An eldery interracial couple. It was a white man and a black woman. Waiting in line, they were fawning over one another. I couldn't help but think what sort of adversity they must have faced in years of yore.

by anna at May 30, 2004 8:06 AM

Rebekah, maybe it is just my insecuruties finding an easy and familiar target. I've never considered myself to be a racist and have never been branded one but my reaction to this freaked me out. There are times here where everyone I hang out with will talk about this one racial group's driving abilities, Anna, you probably know who I'm talking about, and I think even that is a form of racism. That particular group probably has racing champions and such somewhere. It's not here I can tell you that.

Thank you Jean. I don't think I am either but I needed to throw this out there to get some different perspectives on it. If you want to look at it technically, then I am racist to a point. Oh hell, I'm so confused by all of this shit. I am trying to grow as a person though. I guess that is more than most do.

That's cool Anna. They probably went through hell. To survive that says everything about their bond.

by Ezy at June 1, 2004 10:03 AM

Yeh I do, and in fact I posted about how shocked I was at some of the things I heard people saying about them and "the neighborhood." I guess sometimes people don't realize how stuff they say is perceived by others who don't share in their petty hatred.

by anna at June 1, 2004 6:19 PM

I really appreciate reading all the comments here. I can relate to ALL of them and I want all to know that I am a non-white who grew up in times where my family was not allowed to live in "certain" neighborhoods because of our tan lines. I am currently dating an English woman who is simply the love of my life. My mother once said, "I know all of my sons will marry White women." She said that because we grew up in good places were there were many types of people. We knew nothing of the "hood". I think if you are reared among people of different races, you will understand them and get along with them a lot better than not. I have dated more Caucasian women than any other race of women. I am not hessitant to say I like White women better than ANY women! I just do and I offer no comparison. Ezy, I want to thank you for your honestly. I know how you feel. I find my thoughts can be quite "racist" at times. The thing is, I do not act on it. It is not illegal or immoral to think things. Quetion is, what do we do about it?

by Deke at June 1, 2004 11:56 PM

Anna, I thought you might.

Deke, thanks for the words man. I guess we all have certain stigmas, relating to where we grew up, to overcome. I was just taken aback that I would feel that way. It's contradictory to every other aspect of my life. I believe honesty is the only way to truly approach any tough issue. Racial issues are no exception. I believe that is why our country hasn't come any farther racially. All races have preconceived notions of the others and unless we talk honestly about our differences we will never understand each other. To answer your question, I think the only thing to do about it is to question things you don't understand, try to understand them and work to be a better person. I don't know of any other way to approach it.

by Ezy at June 2, 2004 10:12 AM

For what it's worth, I think at the very least it's a mix of "the other man" syndrome, as Linz pointed out, and something else (call it racism if you want.)

I know about some of the inadvertant programming, recalling our upbringings and childhood environments, and how that can emerge later, but at least we can be informed enough to react against, and not partake in any of the discriminatory nonsense.

That said, I think its better to appreciate and notice the differences. And Chris may offer a more informed scientific opinion, but the more a species blends, the healthier it is biologically. Plus the kids are way cuter. If you do't believe me, check this out: http://www.viceland.com/issues/v11n4/htdocs/who.php

Scientific proof! I do wish I could remove that damn comments part of the link though...

by Lajoie at June 8, 2004 6:32 PM

I don't think it is so much "the other man syndrome," as Lajoie or Lynz had suggested, but really a case of closet racism (instilled in you from the culture you grew up in) manifesting itself. After all, Amy was probably with a few other guys before she met you, right Ezy? But because those guys were not Black, they don't bother you so much. It's the fact that a woman with a close relationship to you had previously been with a Black guy (someone you were taught to be inferior than you as a child) is what's getting to you. You'd be just as uncomfortable knowing that any woman close to you, such as a sister, or even your mother perhaps, has had relationships with a Black man. It was OK if your Black high school friend dated White girls who were strangers to you, but if it was a girl close to you or kin to you, you'd probably have a problem with it.

But you know what, Ezy? It's prefectly alright! It's OK to have these racist thoughts and feelings because that is what makes us human. Many people, including minorities have similar inclinations about interracial dating--they are indifferent to it when it comes to strangers, but get very upset when someone close to them is involved. My advice to you is to get over this revelation by noting the fact that although she did see a Black man when she was in college, young and naive, she ultimately chose you now that she is older and wiser. And, if it really bothers you that much, then the only option is left is to break it off with her and find someone else who you know has not been "tainted," so that this sort of thing does not eat you up psychologically and keep you from having a fulfilling relationship.

by Al at December 5, 2005 10:52 PM

what do you mean tainted? you jack ass

by John at February 13, 2006 11:24 PM

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