6/2/15

That's Racism, Ma'am . . .

I went to JC Penney the other night (insert my older brother asking "Why? Were Montgomery Ward and Woolworth's closed?) to pick up some socks for a business trip. While in line, the woman next to me turned - in clear disgust - and said "Those people always slow down the rest of us".

Who were "those people"? A customer who was interested in buying a few sets of towels but was not sure which brand was covered by a coupon/special price and a woman behind the register being accommodating and helping scan the towels. Why were they "those people"? I'm presuming it is because both people were black (they were also both under 5'3" and women but I don't think those were the issue).

Fast forward about 24 hours and I'm on a jet waiting in the center aisle of a flight that was as empty as Oceanic 815 yet the foot traffic was at a stand still as an elderly couple took their sweet, sweet time putting their three suitcases, two carry on bags, purse, and radio-controlled jet in the overhead bin. The woman in front of me turns and says "They must be used to bus travel where you can take all your goats and belongings to the village." I don't think she knew these people - nope. I think she presumed the were from southern Asia (India or Pakistan, maybe?) and didn't understand the rules of ONE item per person in the overhead bin and ONE other carry-on item per person.

I reacted to both these middle-aged white women the same way . . . a look of disgust and a snide remark (the JC Penny shopper got a "Yeah. Great, patient customer service does take time." and the lady on the jet got a pat "Yeah. The Chicago suburbs have their own rules.") followed by a long, dead stare that implied I was duly aware of their racist intent.

Here's the thing . . . I know that I say this all too often but, as a middle aged, middle class white male I'm supposed to be the enemy of all the other people on this planet so WHY am I the one witnessing all this crap in disgust? How in the world do two white women, in just 24 hours, expose themselves as judgmental racists (one while carrying a purse with a bedazzled cross on it, the other wearing Christopher Banks from head to mid-calf including elastic waist, denim, cargo capris)?

I'm not a good person. I dislike pretty much all people but it is based on the way they act or talk or how they carry themselves and I certainly judge people (like the purses and clothing pointed out above) but I can honestly say that I never make it about gender, race, color, or creed. The world is too round and diverse for that. We should really be past small mindedness by the half way point of 2015.