i’ll this is pretty much a repost of a comment i left over at la bodega. something that adria said about being accused of racism got me thinking and i wanted to share it with you guys and girls and see what you thought.
a few years back i managed the game crazy store on gallatin road in inglewood, tn. i am, as you know, white, while most of my customers were either black or hispanic. when i first took over the store, many of my customers had serious issues with this. there wasn’t a week that went by in my first two months there that i wasn’t accused of being or acting racist, though i never would and have trouble comprehending the mindset behind racism.
i’m used to being insulted, but being accused of racism really hurt me… more than i realized it would.
over time, most of my customers (all of my regulars) realized that i just didn’t care about race when i interacted with them and came to accept me as “me” and not as a white store manager. that’s when conversations with my customers became about real life and real issues rather than about video games. i can remember a conversation with one of my regulars who’s last name was santana that began with him asking me the question, “chris, don’t take this the wrong way, but why are all you white people on the crystal meth, man?” after that AMAZING question, we had a really great conversation about race and the preconceptions we often grow up with.
santana was also in the store with his brother, his friend, and two of my other regulars, donnel and lonnel (the twins), when i was accused of being a racist by an indian man because i could not give him a refund on a game he didn’t like. before i could respond, santana, his brother, and his friend burst out laughing and santana said, “man, you don’t know what you are talking about! chris ain’t racist man, you’re just pissed off he won’t give you your money back! stop talking shit you don’t know anything about, man.” the twins (big fellows of few words) looked at the man and nodded their agreement with santana. after it was all said and done, donnel apologised for his neighborhood in his quiet voice before he left the store.
this is honestly one of my proudest moments. it is a memory i will always cherish.
why are we, as a culture so ready to cry “racist!” and point fingers without devining true motivations first?
i’ve met the card-carrying racist before. he came into that same store once. he was around 75 with a long, white beard and was wearing a jacket with the nazi swashtika on the shoulders and a KKK membership pin affixed above his heart. he was a mean ol’ cuss too. he has become the image of hatred for me and i’ve never met anyone like him again. the wqay i figure it, unless you remind me of that guy, i’m gonna give you the benefit of doubt until you prove me wrong. there are so many motives that influence people’s actions – why do we tend to assume racism, sexism, or biggotry? why do we assume the worst? is it because we’ve seen the worst in our history books, our personal past, and in the world around us? does assuming the worst make things easier for us? isn’t that it’s own form of biggotry?