Saturday, February 7, 2015

Do The Right Thing

I guess it's Black History Month. I want to tell you about something that happened in the recent past. I want to talk about race today, without making anyone I know feel bad.

Let me tell you a story. I'm sitting in a car with a white friend of mine, I'm in the back seat with some friends. She swerves the car and almost hits a black dude who is walking by. It is late at night. The man starts walking towards our car, he looks pissed. 

My friend rolls down the window (why she did that is beyond me) and they get into an altercation over the fact that he claims she hit him, she claims she did not. I honestly don't know what happened. He spits in her eye, and then it happens. I don't know if I can write this word down. She calls him a nigger to his face.

I was shocked. I have never actually witnessed someone use that word to berate someone. I can't speak or move. This came from a woman who is intelligent, loving, kind and married to an ethnic man.

We get to our destination and my friend starts yelling about how we don't understand, how she works with "those people." She thinks she needs to get tested for Hepatitis because the man spit in her eye. I'm bewildered.  In shock.

I tell my other friends that this is all wrong.  Most agree with me, one friend tells me to shut up. Another friend of mine starts to cry, her brother is married to the white woman. 

I have to leave, but I didn't drive there. I can't think. I don't believe this.

The next week I tell this story to my black professor. She tells me to forgive the white woman. Try to understand her, she says. She says I don't know her own story, her own struggle with sexism and a life with white privilege. 

Forgive her? What if I do something wrong and she calls me a dirty Indian or something? I know this is not all about me, but in the end it is isn't it? If she could turn on a human and degrade them to that level, any human, she could do that to me. And she did not even apologize because maybe she wasn't a bit sorry. 

However, forgiveness is the right thing to do. Trying to talk people out of that kind of behavior is the right thing to do. I didn't do anything.

I see her every now and then, she is a lovely person otherwise. Was that just a bad moment for her? The thing that bothers me is that it was in her vocabulary. The word was there in her head, she just had to be provoked and it came out.

This happened a while ago, I never thought I could write about it for fear of outing the individuals involved. I'm not sure what to do with this story, or even how to respond. 

I guess this is my response: I'm sorry I did not stand up for an entire race of people. I didn't make a scene when injustice was played out in front of my face. Maya Angelou kicked someone out of her home for telling an anti-gay joke. I have close gay friends, would I do that?

Maya should kick me out of her home.

I want to be a phenomenal woman too. Tolerating racism silently is a passive form of racism. I don't know what to do.


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