May 31, 2009

Great teaching moments: "Those People"

"That was mighty white of you there..."

I couldn't let the day go by without telling this story, another example of internalized raciiiissssmmm *dramatic music*

So me and mama are cruising around in one of the uppity areas of the Nashville. Uppity as in mostly upper middle class white although you may see a few of those negroes around. We started talking about how awesome segregation was because it meant that black schools, which were supervised by the government, could do whatever they damn well please.

We also talked about how, allegedly, whites are going to become the minority in 2030 or 2050, not that it means much. Poor whitey! As we start leaving the ritzy-ish area and driving into a mostly Latin@ (along with some other groups and some straggler white folks) community mother mentions how those people have been moving up the ladder as it were in to the more well-to-do communities.

That's it. "Those people". As if I really knew what she was talking about, for one thing, but she just totally dismissed a whole group as "Those people." Not maliciously, it just came out that way.

I mentioned this with the quote that starts off this post, mom thought about it, then became severely embarrassed at just how damn racist that sounded. THOSE PEOPLE, that's what WE'RE called. That's what happened to US, black folks, when we started movin' on up. Look at "those people".

See, this is hard, because this happens all the time. "Those people". As I told you my dad refers to everyone he suspects as Asian as "ying yangs". Typically what happens in this country is that if we don't know where you're from (god forbid you're american *choke*) we'll just assign you something, whether it's innocuous or blatantly racist. it's your fault for not wearing your race around your neck like we do. I'd like to think it's just one of those white people things and in a way it is. Then it becomes internalized within groups until we too are looking down at "those people".

I also called her out on constantly referring to the area we were in as Little Havana. Not so racist eh? Well Havana is in Cuba as far as I know and I don't know if a group of Mexicans want to be referred to as Cubans basically? Note, I'm not of any Hispanic and/or Latin@ myself but I'd think that be offensive on some level. Mom apologizes but it's not really me she needs to be sorry too. I think we all need to be a little sorry, not just to Latin@s or Kurds, but everyone.

I consider this a teaching moment on how easy it is to fall into the traps of whiteness--yeah whiteness. How easy it is to just let your prejudice & ignorance flag flyyyy without realizing it. We all need those moments, all day everyday.

blog comments powered by Disqus