I’m white. Don’t assume I’m racist.

Beth Secor
Houston, TX

This situation I am going to describe happens to me relatively frequently. Another white person, more often than not a stranger or someone I know in passing, will make the assumption that because I also am white, that I too share their racist views. This other white person will lean toward me, look me in the eye, as though to acknowledge that we both belong to the same covert club, and then begin comfortably spouting their very ugly, narrow opinions about other fellow human beings who skin or culture or religion happens not to be the same as ours. For example the other day, a fellow college teacher, whom I have only recently met, and whom I was beginning to think, oh, I could be friends with that person, ruined it all when she started talking about a student who is a Chinese immigrant, “Oh you know how macho Chinese men are”. Or there was the case when I stopped at a convenience store outside of Austin, Texas, and the clerk started confiding in me about the smelly “Paki” manager she had to contend with, or the instance when my mechanic leaned in to tell me about how lazy Mexicans are; or when I lived in Baltimore, and a fellow artist, whom I imagined to be broadminded, started talking shucking and jiving and speaking in a quote unquote Negro accent. When one of my students or relative says something hurtful or stupid like this, I don’t have any trouble calling them out, but when other people do, I’m become so appalled and horrified, that I render myself speechless. My goal is to try to stop being such a coward and instead speak out and let people know I am not party to their views, but rather find this clumping together and generalizing about entire groups of people reprehensible.

 

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