Sunday, April 3, 2011
Years ago I read an article about unintentional racism. An example given in the article was that in the Katrina aftermath, when Barbara Bush and the former President toured the Astrodome, Mrs. Bush commented, "So many people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."
The fact that those poor people had lost loved ones, homes, jobs, pets and possessions seemed lost on Mrs. Bush. I wondered aloud, "I wonder how she would have felt if she'd lost everything and was transported hundreds of miles away to sleep on a cot with no privacy?" The author of the article attributed her callous attitude to "unintentional racism" and concluded that she did not realize that her remarks were indeed racist, but showed her to be out-of-touch and unsympathetic. Recalling her remarks about Geraldine Ferraro, I was not inclined to be as tolerant.
One of my colleagues at Rockwell was a very well-spoken, educated, professional who happened to be African-American. One day, after seeing Bob and I having lunch together, another colleague commented, "He's the whitest black man I've ever seen." I called him out and told him that was offensive and racist and the guy was obviously surprised and said he'd meant it as a compliment! I said, "Then I'm supposed to infer that you think that only white people USUALLY have his attributes?" He said, "I didn't mean anything by it."
In stores, I oftentimes see store personnel who stop people to check their receipts. I have never been stopped, but I always have my receipt in my hand with my car keys. I always assumed people were stopped if there were unbagged items in the cart. Tonight, I was behind a couple in line who are black and I saw the man bagging the items. I had one item and as I followed behind the couple, they were stopped to show their receipt. I had my receipt ready and the store employee waved and said, "You're all right." I said, "I know that I am all right, but what was wrong with those folks ahead of me?" He said, "They had something that wasn't in a bag." I said, "That's NOT true; I was behind them in line and he bagged everything."
Tomorrow I will call the District Manager to inquire about the Company policy.