Thursday, April 17, 2008

Not gone, just harder to see.

Today's topic is kind of uncomfortable. Obviously if you've seen my pics you know that I am a Black person, as is my husband, and my son. (Don't get me started on the comments I get from white and black people about J's possible heritage due to his light-colored hair. He came out that way, we don't know why his hair is that color, God picked it and we like it. But he's not "mixed" as many people insist, he is indeed a Black Kid. If you're cringing, sorry, it's not natural for me to use the term African-American unless I'm writing a paper for a sociology class).

Anyway, we live a very blessed life here in Vegas, although the community we live and work in is not exactly....multicultural. We've made peace with that and actually have developed a pretty good network of friends from all races through work and church, so usually it's not something we have to think about. There have been 2 recent incidents, however, that have really driven home for me the fact that racism is still alive and strong in our country, just not as in-your-face as it used to be.

So remember the fair we went to the other day. A funny thing happened on the way into the fair. We were standing in the long, hot, dusty line to get admission tickets. J was in the stroller in front of me wilting by the minute, and he started to throw a mini-tantrum and threw his cup of water on the ground. The guy in front of us picked it up and turned around to hand it back, literally did a double-take, and gave us this really strange look. As I was saying thanks for the cup, I glanced down and saw that his entire right leg was encased in a tattoo of a guy doing the Heil-Hitler pose with his hand in the air, there were swastikas all over, and the tattoo guy's mouth was screaming open with the words "SKINS RULE." I kid you not. It was one of the weirdest moments I've had in recent memory. The guy kept glancing back at us, and then he whispered to his girlfriend and then she looked back at us. Oh yeah I didn't mention of course we were the only black people in sight for miles around. So we had to stand in line behind this Skinhead guy for another ten minutes until he got his tickets. I don't why but my heart was pounding, my hands were shaking, and I felt ill every time I looked down at his tattoo.

The second incident happened to me yesterday at work. A lady who I never met before brought her dog in because he was limping. When I came in the room the dog started growling at me, which is par for the course for alot of animals when they see the white coat coming. Once I started my exam, however, he calmed down and let me do what I needed to do. As we were getting ready to take the dog in back for x-rays the lady goes, "Dr. E, you seem like a really good doctor and everything and you're a nice person, but I think Jake would do better with a different doctor." When I asked her if there was something I did that upset her, she said, "No, no, no! You're very nice. But we got Jake from a shelter and we're pretty sure he was abused by the people who owned him before, who were probably Mexican. Because of that he hates colored people. That's why he growled at you." Those were her exact words. Not "he doesn't like people of color," but "he hates colored people." What do you even say in a situation like that? Trust me, alot of things came to mind but I just laughed it off and said, "well, he'll have to deal with his fears today because I'm the only doctor here."

Sigh...I don't even know why I'm writing about this, really. I guess just as a reminder that some things that seem like they're gone are just harder to see.

6 comments:

LauraC said...

Seriously, I sometimes can believe how ignorant people are! It's almost sadder now that you have a kid, because how do you explain this kind of hatred and horrible behavior to children?

Steph said...

Desi- I don't even know what to say, except that I agree w/Laura.

deebo47 said...

What can you say to stuff like this? As you know, we've had more comments over the last five years on Cam's skin color that we want to believe (because she's so fair compared to us, not that we care at all), and of course we've all experienced those little moments when you realize the person you're talking to is a bigot. But it hits you so much harder when you have kids, because there is no rational explanation to give them. Like you, we enjoy a good life, and racism is not something that has held us back or kept us from living our life the way we want. But every once in a while, X-man will ask a question or someone in a store will say something, and I feel like a deer in headlights. I don't have any clue how to respond, I only know that it hurts to go through it or watch my children go through it. My only hope is that as our kids grow older their generation will do even more to improve things, and racism will seem like a rare anomaly rather than an everyday occurrence. I guess we'll have to wait and see...

gLobeY said...

Ugh. I'm not sure I even know what to say. I know people like that exist, but it always floors me when I actually HEAR comments like that. I'm jewish, and I've heard on numerous occassions, from complete strangers, incredibly dispariging remarks about the damn jews screwing over the world. I truly never know what to say, but it always makes my heart beat faster and my blood pressure rise.

Desi, I'm sorry you went through that. Foolish ignorance and flat out hatered are, unfortunately, pervasisve enough in our society. Ugh. I can't grumble enough about this.

Hugs to you and yours.

b.rob said...

i hate it when racism rears it's ugly head, unfortunately i'm not really that surprised. i'm glad you wrote about it because so many people get so attached to their comfort zones that they tend to overlook the fact that racism, bigotry, sexism, etc. still exist in this country. it's scary and i know why your heart was racing and you felt ill! i feel the same way whenever i'm confronted with intolerance of any kind because you never really know what could set these people off and any situation could potentially become violent. I can't even imagine what that must feel like when you're in that situation with your child...
i am optimistic though, that the next generations are becoming more and more tolerant and loving so hopefully j. and x. and cam will not have to deal with this bulls@*! very often. Barack for President '08!! random...

-Bridget said...

Wow Desi! I'm so sorry to hear that stuff like that still happens.