Guest commentary: Is it racism, or is it not? - Beloit Daily News: Opinion

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Guest commentary: Is it racism, or is it not?

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Posted: Monday, September 24, 2012 4:00 pm

I SPENT much of a recent weekend doing what I usually do on the weekend, errands.

On Saturday, my son and I stopped for something to drink before going over to a local store. As we walked into the store with our drinks, a female employee yelled that beverages were not allowed in the store. It took me a minute to realize that she was referring to me, to us. Having brought drinks into this store numerous times before, I was taken aback and a little affronted by the statement. Then because I was with my eleven year old child, I had to make a decision about how to handle this situation. Should I confront the clerk with what I knew was incorrect information? Was there something about my demeanor that made it possible for this employee to demand that I not enter the store with my beverage?

Although I was furious, I did not remain in the store. Rather than confront the clerk, my son and I quickly left the store amid the stares of the other customers.

 

I FUMED as I drove home, wondering how to interpret this event. Once home, I called the store and spoke with an assistant manager. I asked him about the store policy regarding customers bringing beverages into the store. When he said there was none, I explained what had just happened and asked him to account for the behavior of his employee towards my son and me, given that there was no store policy. He apologized and asked me to identify the employee as best as I could so that he could speak to her.

Now, there are a number of ways a story like this could be interpreted depending on who is involved. When I say who, I mean the social location or context of individuals involved such as social class, gender, religious affiliation, race, and so on. I say the social contexts of the participants in the event matter because there is a way that we could imagine the event not occurring at all or being understood in a completely different way depending on these contexts. The reality is though that when I, a black woman, walked into that store with a beverage and the white female store clerk yelled that bringing my beverage into the store was not allowed, in a certain way, I also heard and felt that my son and I were not allowed. We were denied entry based on someone else’s whim because there was no store policy barring customers from bringing beverages into the store.

So, if the drink was not the problem, then perhaps I was, or more accurately we were.  In that moment I recognized that my past patronage of this establishment, that the purchasing power I represented was eclipsed by how I was read by that clerk, that negative stereotypes of black people meant that I could not be trusted to be a responsible citizen consumer in that store. I was not allowed. 

 

HAVING experienced this kind of treatment before I struggled to think through in order to understand why this incident has affected me so deeply, why I was so humiliated in that store, and why I was so angry. Why was this incident different from similar incidents that are a constant and unpleasant reminder about the ways in which race continues to be salient in our society? Then it hit me…this felt different because my child was there. Because even though I have known this, this incident highlighted the fact that I cannot protect my child from “not being allowed.” I cannot shield him from how he may be seen and understood in ways that may be harmful to him. This incident was a reminder that in addition to the powerlessness that parents inevitably feel as their children make their own way in the world, I must also worry about how my son’s racial identity may be used to stereotype his behaviors in ways that exclude him and diminish who he is as a person. This realization made me feel this cut more deeply.

Now, the problem with situations like this is that they can and are often interpreted in very different ways depending as I said before on who is doing the interpreting. This is because of how racism works in the US in this moment. Because race relations have gotten immeasurably better and explicitly racist behaviors are no longer codified, at least not uniformly so, identifying racism becomes a matter of “proving” racist intent. In other words, if someone does not intend to be racist, then the behavior, however questionable, cannot reasonably be understood as racist. Racism has become far more nuanced in its deployment and operation, consequently putting a finger on it has become a more risky and slippery undertaking.

When I say risky, I mean that there are risks (personal or professional) for people who try to identify its operation. As a society we want to be “past or post” race, we want to believe it doesn’t matter so much that we often censure those who point out its effects and label them as being irrational or too sensitive, or as having a chip on their shoulder. We pride ourselves on our color-blindness and are suspicious of those who don’t or can’t play along.

 

THE POINT of this story is not to indict anyone, rather it is to point out that whether or not you agree that this was an incident that involved racist intent, perhaps you can agree that we live in a society where this explanation exists as a possibility.

That it remains a possibility that I or anyone else can understand race to be a negative factor in their experiences, or that I have to wonder if an unpleasant interchange with a department store clerk had racist undertones, means that we have not come as far as we like to think we have.

Might it be useful to shift our conversations about race and racism from worrying about what was intended to paying attention to the effects of racism? How might this change of focus alter our conversations? So, let’s stop congratulating ourselves on how far we’ve come and get back to work!

 

Dr. Lisa Anderson-Levy is an assistant professor of anthropology and Mouat junior professor of international studies at Beloit College, where she has taught since 2008. 

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29 comments:

  • billtinder posted at 7:06 pm on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4648

    That would probably be determined by what was being served to the rest of the crowd, wouldn't it?

     
  • Mike_Zoril posted at 6:27 pm on Mon, Oct 1, 2012.

    Mike_Zoril Posts: 2686

    Are Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches racist?

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=435944036443103&set=a.408162692554571.81684.165801456790697&type=1&relevant_count=1&ref=nf

     
  • billtinder posted at 4:03 pm on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4648

    Well said Mr Data, because afterall that is the point in contention.

     
  • js20094 posted at 3:55 pm on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    js20094 Posts: 1024

    Luckydog, by your own words, for the safety of the public, we should restrict even more, the places one should be allowed to ingest alcohol, say only in their homes. Seeing how its a fact that there are proven dangers of someone ingesting alcohol in a public setting and driving home. I do not condone smoking myself, but its no different than someone drinking in a bar, yet we dont restrict it, or tax it nearly as much as a person who may use tobacco. Its boils down to what data has said, more laws and regulations = less freedom for all, and each new restriction, law, tax, paves the way for more restrictions, laws and taxes

     
  • Mr Data posted at 9:40 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    Mr Data Posts: 3822

    lucky.... I know you love to bash me and everything I say .... but please, please, please read and think before you over-react.

    I wrote .."Discrimination raises its ugly head in many ways. Though not illegal to smoke cigarettes (IT IS NOT) which are a large source of revenue for government (IT IS), smokers of those cigarettes have been allowed to be discriminated against over the past 25 years by the self described, socially correct, non-smokers.... " (THEY ARE)

    I called it discrimination, lucky, because it is NOT an example of racism. Nor is it MY IMPASSIONED defense of smoker's rights. Smoking is bad for one's health, and I am not a smoker nor do I condone smoking.

    I chose it because it is a good example of how people in this nation (under the declaration of 'protecting others') are able to impose their will in a DISCRIMINATORY manner upon select groups of citizens. This happens in many ways in our nation and it seems to be getting worse.

    It takes guts for the government to pass a law banning 'bad, bad" things that ahppen to generate lots of tax dollars for them. So the government shiorks it responsibilities and allows some in society to discriminate and determine how certain classes of citizens (smokers, obese, uneducated, certain special interests) will be treated as second class citizens by others. That's not right.

    In NY City Mayor Bloomberg DID pass a law to NOT allow sugar loaded soda pop be sold in cups larger than 16oz. in his city. That took guts on his part. I am not sure I agree with it. But at least its a law (right or wrong) and everyone is treated the same way in NYC. It stopped in its tracks the ability and nastiness by the skinny, do-gooder Iced Cappucino Cafe drinker to look down down and snub their righteous, elitist nose at those heavy souls carrying around and sipping their 32 oz cups of sugar water.

    Surely, lucky, you are aware that more and more and more restrictions allowed for one group of Americans to place upon on those in another group (under the name of protecting us from the dangers of whatever it may be) will only lead to all of us losing those precious freedoms and liberty that this nation was founded upon.

    Again, I do not and never will condone smoking. While I agree about the virtues of NOT smoking ... until smoking is made illegal in this nation, I will never discriminate against those who do smoke by viewing them to be an inferior citizen with less rights than me.

     
  • luckydog posted at 6:52 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3422

    MrData, I'm not sure if the incident was an example of racism or not but your impassioned defense of smoker's rights is ill-conceived. Surely you are aware that restrictions on smoker's rights to pollute the atmosphere are all about protecting others from the proven dangers of second hand smoke?

     
  • abbchann posted at 7:49 am on Fri, Sep 28, 2012.

    abbchann Posts: 50

    hey enterprise guy,
    To boldly go where no beverage has gone before ?

    michael p. mckearn
    beloit

     
  • Enterprise guy posted at 8:03 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2012.

    Enterprise guy Posts: 18

    The future is brighter than you think. The future has less of everything. Less war, less hatred and i am happy to say, less racial problems. Lieutenant O'hoorah may be the only black female in space but i do believe she has always been treated with respect. In only one episode did I ever see her treated unfairly but Captain Kirk was not far behind to defend her honor. Yes captain Kirk, a white man. I think that speaks volumes my friends and we all better wise up man.
    Imagine a future with nothing but logic and peace. In space you would be free to drink the beverage of your choice and enter into any galaxy without a clerk ordering you outside. Just imagine.
    Once again I find my nemisis, Mr. Data, lurking and casting his spell of hatred and negativity. Mr. data will never break free from his own gravity that oppresses him. Just as Khann was trapped on Ceti alpha VI and became bitter and engrained with hatred toward the federation, Mr. Data will forever be trapped in his own orbit of cigarette smoke and obesity. Shame on you Mr. Data. You have betrayed your cast and crew members for the last time.

     
  • billtinder posted at 6:12 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4648

    Me too![beam]

     
  • js20094 posted at 3:29 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2012.

    js20094 Posts: 1024

    http://www.cdc.gov/features/obesity/. There is your facts on genetics and obesity. I thinkt he CDC is a reputable enough source to say that genetic makeup does preculde someone to obesity. Now that that is put to rest, go on arguing, I find enjoyment in it.

     
  • lilmonster posted at 1:13 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2012.

    lilmonster Posts: 1097

    Ah here we go. More name calling from data. Is name calling what you turn to when you can't back up the crazy stuff you claim with facts? i see how you work. The best part is you call people names, and then start crying because the other posters are mean to you. I wonder why they attack you. Just kidding I don't wonder. I know why. It's because you are a [censored].

     
  • Mr Data posted at 10:31 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2012.

    Mr Data Posts: 3822

    I won't mention names, but when people take the time to write things like this ....." I feel really awful for states like Mississippi where something like 70% of the population must have this fat gene u speak off. .." I find it hard to believe these people feel awful about anything but for themselves.

    Can you spell .. d i s c r i m a n a t o r y behavior?

    I understand much better now. I tlooks like the white female store clerk was in this professor's letter - in a discriminatory manner (not in a racist manner) - was one of the lilmonster-like perfection seeking bigots who was telling the black professor and her son to dump those mcgarbage sugar loaded water drinks.

    It wasn't racism at all .. it was a perfection-phobic idiot telling someone how to better live their lives!

     
  • lilmonster posted at 9:32 pm on Wed, Sep 26, 2012.

    lilmonster Posts: 1097

    I hate to burst your bubble data but I don't care about your health. Not my business. As far as where people smoke, I don't really care about that either. I don't frequent places that people smoke, or use to be able to smoke. People smoking is not something that affects me. IMO if someone owns a business and they want to allow smoking there, more power to them.

    I also think making smoking illegal would be beyond stupid. Prohibition hasn't worked with alcohol or marijuana. To suggest adding smoking to the list is silly and would be a giant waste of money.


    "And I'm not a doctor but I know more than to believe that falsehood that genetics cannot lead to obesity."

    lol, ya you clearly smarter then the doctors who have studied the issue. The doctors just claim genes have nothing to do with it because they hate fat people right. They just want them to feel guilty. Our obesity issues has nothing to do with fat mom teaching fat child what is ok to eat. Fat child just ended up fat because mom and dad were fat. And of course the whole family ended up with the fat gene. Has nothing to do with the mcgarbage and sugar water they been sucking down since they were babies. I feel really awful for states like Mississippi where something like 70% of the population must have this fat gene u speak off.

     
  • abbchann posted at 8:24 pm on Wed, Sep 26, 2012.

    abbchann Posts: 50

    dear 126337,
    We can't comment on Dr. levy's being over sensitive to criticism because we haven't heard her respond to any of it yet unless she is one of the many postings with no authors. Maybe she can tell you herself when you have coffee with her tomorrow. Over protective loses out to over reactive and the clerk could be a "closet bigot ?". That's good detective work.
    I missed the part where we learn just why a Dr. of anthropology was taken to school and got run by a dime store clerk. When you run you get caught. Or exposed. Change the discussion indeed. I was under the impression that most human beings retain one identity throughout their entire lives unless you enter witness relocation.
    Now we have a "racial identity" to define. I'll stick to what I know and I think if you keep looking for racism you will find it. If you keep feeding it, it will grow. An employee who gives a directive to a customer is automatically guilty. Of what we don't know but we know she is guilty of something. We can fill in the blanks later. Someone looking for racism that badly deserves to find it. I'm sure Dr. Levy will find a some new racial turmoil very soon.
    This story has become tiresome.

    Michael P. McKearn
    Beloit

     
  • Mr Data posted at 5:57 pm on Wed, Sep 26, 2012.

    Mr Data Posts: 3822

    lilmonster .. your comments deomonstrate with solid clarity my point of the disrespect and the 'discriminatory' beliefs that the holier-than-thou, I-am-so-worried-about-your-health-syndrome whiners are plaguing our society and they display downright disrepect towards others.

    Those discriminatory behaviors are not nice and they are expanding into many parts of our society.

    I'm not a smoker and I think it very unfair to treat smokers as second class citizens. At least we could be brave enough as a nation to make smokling illegal. And I'm not a doctor but I know more than to believe that falsehood that genetics cannot lead to obesity.

     
  • lilmonster posted at 5:29 pm on Wed, Sep 26, 2012.

    lilmonster Posts: 1097

    Always cracks me up when smokers cry life isn't fair. I don't believe it is illegal to love yourself. Why can't we love ourselves in public? That's is right, the so called socially correct people ruined that fun. It's not illegal to have sex. Why can't my wife and I express our love in public? You guessed it, the so called socially correct crowds have ruined all the fun. I'm tired of the discrimination in this country.

    To compare smoking laws with what others have have put through in this country is a joke. Mr data u should be ashamed. Comments like your last one show a complete lack of class.

    Also genetics don't make you fat. Eating a poor diet is what makes people fat.

     
  • Mr Data posted at 3:28 pm on Wed, Sep 26, 2012.

    Mr Data Posts: 3822

    126337 asks .."Why isn't there more acknowledgement that racist incidents frequently happen?"

    I agree that racism and DISCRIMINATION in general is alive and well in this nation.

    I had previously wrote .."Racism is defined as 1) The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race; or 2) prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based upon a belief. ... Discrimination raises its ugly head in many ways. Though not illegal to smoke cigarettes which are a large source of revenue for government, smokers of those cigarettes have been allowed to be discriminated against over the past 25 years by the self described, socially correct, non-smokers. Employers have always been allowed to show favoritism / discrimination towards more educated at the expense of the lower educated, sometimes right down to what university someone graduated from. Our government has shown favoritism towards one ‘group’ of Americans over another. Now those who are over-weight (doesn’t matter if its genetics, a health issue, or bad weight management) are all being treated similarly to how smokers are treated. With disdain and disgust. Now that it has been allowed to begin .. it won’t end until we have that perfect society in America as has been determined by who???? Since President Obama’s election in 2008, occasional comments are made about racism. “That's it, that's all that's left.” But has it? If anything it seems not. "


     
  • js20094 posted at 2:32 pm on Wed, Sep 26, 2012.

    js20094 Posts: 1024

    Lack of racism here aside, I was taught at a very young age, never to take food or drinks into a store with you, especially if the store sells it own. Anyone else taught that? Maybe DR Levy needs a lesson in social morays.

     
  • 126337 posted at 1:19 pm on Wed, Sep 26, 2012.

    126337 Posts: 143

    I can't stop thinking about the comments Dr Levy's letter received.  I must  admit that I am a little surprised at how strongly the responses  suggest that the writer overreacted.  The possibility that the clerk might  have behaved differently to Lisa and her son if  she and he were white doesn't seem to register....

    Why  isn't there more acknowledgement that racist incidents frequently happen? Why is there a general consensus that even if this clerk was a closet bigot, so what?  Why so little empathy for a mother feeling that her son is being slighted along with herself, even if she is being over protective?

     One of the comments to Lisa's letter notes that it's incorrect and uncomfortable to discuss reverse racism.  When a person of color speaks out, it's ok, when a white person speaks out, it's not."  If what's good for the goose, is good for the gander, indeed, why does this double standard exist?  This inconsistency in our society is annoy ing and relevant, and negatively impacts race relations.

    Also, affirmative action  hasn't caught up with the new reality that quality education, employment and support services are often unavailable to struggling white people.   My daughter for a nano-second thought that she wanted to teach in Chicago Public Schools.  She had a few, rude awakenings that began when the required teaching certificate cost her a lot of money, while the majority of her minority classmates in the same program, received the same education at a much reduced cost.

    My daughter with a Masters Degree in Literature from another state was more in debt at the time, than I have ever been.  She thought the coursework in the teacher program at an Illinois teacher's college was a joke, but that's another story.  While the program's quality might not be relevant here, the program's cost added to her debt, and fueled resentment...some of it, I suspect, unconsciously directed at minority classmates, who were not handicapped in the same way.

     As more people lose their jobs and homes, as life becomes immeasurably harder for most of us, the programs available to many minority groups, and the lack of similar assistance  available to qualified, and sometimes very needy people that can't claim any minority status, is often frustrating.

    It's understandable in this climate, why we might question how important it is to discuss subtle, isolated incidents of racism.   The trouble is they are not isolated and even little incidents are counterproductive to a free society with a level playing field for as many people as possible, something we really need right now.   We are all in this together, and whether racism is engendered by skin color, ethnicity,  by elite bias, by intolerance of sexual orientation, gender, whatever, it's wrong and we should call it out even if we have been wronged in the same way, in similar but different situations.


     
  • abbchann posted at 7:00 pm on Tue, Sep 25, 2012.

    abbchann Posts: 50

    I never really knew that racism had its own "points of deployment" or social location or it was risky and slippery as well. Does racism get more slippery or dangerous when it gets wet ? Because that's a big safety hazard you know.
    Dr. Levy could slip on some racism and bruise her racist imagination or her incredibly huge ego. I also never knew there were racial "undertones" too. Did she create those so as not to overshadow the "overtones". Or was that "undershadow" the undertones ? "Murph and the magic tones ? They still owe you money fool !"
    I read her letter again and I still come away sickened by it. How long were you even in the store Dr. ? It sounds like 30 seconds tops.

    Michael P. McKearn
    Beloit

     
  • js20094 posted at 6:18 pm on Tue, Sep 25, 2012.

    js20094 Posts: 1024

    Sounds to me like Dr Levy needs to get over herself, and possibly seek sensitivity counciling for her racial problem.

     
  • 126337 posted at 11:23 am on Tue, Sep 25, 2012.

    126337 Posts: 143


    I just reread the letter Dr Anderson-Levy submitted to the BDN, after reviewing the comments readers submitted to the content of her  letter....

    The comments seem to imply that the good doctor is overly sensitive to criticism, perhaps assigning motive and prejudice where it doesn't exist, or if it does, so what, life is hard and prejudice can run both ways.

    But Dr Levy writes that the point of her story is not to indict anyone , but to ask  us to consider that "Whether or not we agree that (we) live in a society where  racist intent is involved, perhaps (we) can agree that we live in a society where this is a possibility?"

    And if "racist intent" is a possibility, perhaps instead of debating amongst ourselves whether this or that incident is racist, or if it even matters, let's change the discussion and instead focus on the consequences of racism.   

    How can a person's racial  identity stereotype his behavior in a way that's harmful to him, (or helpful), shape his world, ultimately alter how he perceives himself?? How does racism impact opportunity, national policy, create socio-economic equality and inequality??

    Perhaps increasing sensitivity to the consequences of racism we can create more individual resistance to the 'let's go along to get along culture,' and ultimately nurture tolerance and acceptance.

    Is there hypersensitivity to the race issue, is the race card played too often?  

    We all know people who are not nice,  who eschew personal responsibility on both sides of the color divide...their bad behavior doesn't mitigate the debilitating impact racism delivers.  

    We all know it's out there.

      
     

     
  • Mr Data posted at 11:19 am on Tue, Sep 25, 2012.

    Mr Data Posts: 3822

    I am an old WASP – White Anglo Saxo Protestant. The worst of the worst. A fourth generation ancestor of those WASPs who allegedly invented racism.

    I have never been a racist. I grew up in Beloit. I had classmates and friends and teammates on sports who were native American, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and even Jewish.

    I have dated minority gals. I never viewed race as something to be afraid about. I never will.

    Just like we must never forget the holocaust of the Jews that occurred during WWII, we must never forget the way minorities were treated in the early history America. I do not for a minute believe that the stain of our nation’s history of racism in our history should be ever be forgotten in America. It's clear the current ancestors in America of those who were horribly discriminated against will never let America forget those sins occurred.

    Racism is defined as 1) The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race; or 2) prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based upon a belief.

    Discrimination raises its ugly head in many ways. Though not illegal to smoke cigarettes which are a large source of revenue for government, smokers of those cigarettes have been allowed to be discriminated against over the past 25 years by the self described, socially correct, non-smokers. Employers have always been allowed to show favoritism / discrimination towards more educated at the expense of the lower educated, sometimes right down to what university someone graduated from. Our government has shown favoritism towards one ‘group’ of Americans over another. Now those who are over-weight (doesn’t matter if its genetics, a health issue, or bad weight management) are all being treated similarly to how smokers are treated. With disdain and disgust. Now that it has been allowed to begin .. it won’t end until we have that perfect society in America as has been determined by who????

    Since President Obama’s election in 2008, occasional comments are made about racism. “That's it, that's all that's left.” But has it? If anything it seems not.

    Oddly, despite a certain demise of racism in America, as we have learned about it,, much still appears to be unchanged - except - that racism might be more prevalent amongst the minority population than the majority population in America.

    This black female professor's letter with its allegation that whites still may hold minorities to be inferior seems to verify the irony that racism has infected the mnority community who were once its victims.

     
  • beloit51 posted at 9:34 am on Tue, Sep 25, 2012.

    beloit51 Posts: 1639

    IF a person of color speaks out thats a okay,a white person does the same that's racist? get over this race card BS and conduct all situtations as adult's.If any person is a jerk with one dollar,or a millionaire ,Still a Jerk?So weary of this race card "explaination and rightoueness".


    "Your Humble Servant".

     
  • RJ83 posted at 7:37 am on Tue, Sep 25, 2012.

    RJ83 Posts: 58

    This letter perfectly defines the problem with this country at this time. Too many people are hypersensitive to racial issues and will find racism wherever they can. Sadly this causes them to look at the world in a jaded way rather than a positive way. The problem in this story is not with the store clerk, it is with the Dr. and her inability to see past the color of a person's skin. Racism will not go away until people like the Dr. get over their animosity towards anyone with a different look.

     
  • lilmonster posted at 7:17 am on Tue, Sep 25, 2012.

    lilmonster Posts: 1097

    i think you're reading to deep into the situation. It's not unheard of to be asked not to have a drink in a store. Maybe the employee was new and made a mistake. If you really break this story down the one showing racist signs to me is the writer. She assumes because the nonblack employee asked her not to bring a drink in the store it was because she was black. Why does it have to be a black nonblack thing? Why can't it be a simple mistake? I believe that people see what they want to see in life.

    Trust me lady plenty of rude people in the world. People going to be rude no matter what color you are. Don't take things so personal. Don't waste your energy getting upset. How people treat you can only effect you if you let it. So don't let it.

     
  • 126337 posted at 9:24 pm on Mon, Sep 24, 2012.

    126337 Posts: 143

    "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck."

    Another Beloit Story....

    I was in a local business the other day,  chatting with the owner about something inconsequentional...when in walks a customer.  The owner turns around, mentally notes the newcomer--a woman of color with her young son--and then turns back to me.

    He continues talking with his back to the woman, hardly acknowledging her presence, and I begin to see her face register confusion and then mild annoyance.  Quite frankly,  I am confused too.  I think that perhaps the store owner is being overly polite to me at the risk of not attending to his business, so I step to the side and quietly indicate that someone needs his attention.

    With a toss of his head, he lets me know that she can wait, and slips right back into our conversation.

    What just happended? And then it begins to dawn on me, at the same point it apparently dawns on the customer, as embarrassment and anger overtake the mild annoyance she previously exhibited.  

    Racism can be raw, bewildering and quite unexpected, and there is complicity in audience silence. How overt does racism need be to take exception is something most of us have to evaluate at one point, or another. It's a hard call sometimes and confusing and demeaning to everyone involved.

     
  • abbchann posted at 7:48 pm on Mon, Sep 24, 2012.

    abbchann Posts: 50

    I think the only thing racial about the alleged "incident" the woman experienced, was her imagination. She became so infuriated for not being allowed to enter the store, she turned around and left with her son in tow. Why run away ? Her first instinct was to "confront" the store clerk. Why talk like adults when you can leap right into a confrontational situation, right ? She could also have easily turned what she perceived as a negative situation into something positive by showing her son she was a much bigger person than the store clerk by complying.
    Put your drinks down, enter the store, do your shopping and then go home. By the way, I never heard her even address the possibility that taking drinks into a store is a bad idea in the first place, which it is. Lady, you lost it and you let your eleven-year-old son see you lose it. If you drove home fuming in a U.RI. (an unidentified racial incident) no doubt your son saw you fuming too.
    I guess because the store clerk yelled "in a certain way" we are supposed to assume this certain way came with a racial tone attached to it. Sometimes the title of "Dr." doesn't make you that much smarter after all.
    As long as I'm here at the carnival barking, try this experience on for size. See of you can prove, or disprove or validate any kind of racism in this story. Tell me if you can define it's nuances or identify it's operation of racial intent. Let me know if you find it's point of deployment.
    I walked into a convenience store with my children, 10 and 8 at the time, and was told we could not enter the store with beverages. I will never forget those words spoken so regally. "Yo man, you can't be comin in here wit do's drinks man." My son did have a small beverage in his hand. I encouraged my son to finish his drink which he did and we entered the store.
    The store clerk was a young black male who had what appeared to be a few of his friends, also young black males, gathered around his counter work area. They were all drinking beverages and as we got closer to the young men with our purchase items, I was immediately made aware of the overpowering stench of marijuana.
    So let's get this right. Beverages bad, marijuana good. Marijuana very good. Marijuana really, really good. Marijuana so good we let it in the store, but white people with beverages is very, very bad.
    Rather than dissect the situation or cry racism, or identify it's nuances or any other ridiculous observations that Dr. Anderson subscribes to, I gave the situation it's due merit. I did nothing.
    I told my kids that the young men in the store were most likely drug using idiots and they were wrong. I don't know if it was racism or not and I really didn't care and since I had no proof that is was, I never even suggested it. Not to my children or anyone else.
    Life is tough out there people. Get used to it.

    Calling it like I see it.
    Michael P. McKearn
    Beloit

     
  • Mentor397 posted at 5:49 pm on Mon, Sep 24, 2012.

    Mentor397 Posts: 1363

    Out of all the possible permutations and probable causes of the incident, it is the reality that we choose for ourselves that affects the reality we see around us.

     

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