A note on race and patience

Admittedly, the following is at best only tangentially sports related. Normally I keep notes like this on my personal Facebook page. This time I felt I should post it here, simply because there are a few lessons to learn from it, especially when interacting on the internet. Don’t worry, this is not turning into a personal blog. I’ll have a real sports stadium/business post tomorrow.

Last night after the Knicks-Suns game we crowded into a garage elevator. An elderly white couple hurried in as I held the doors open.

“Floor?” I asked them.

The woman replied, “Four.”

Then she looked at me, paused as if to correct herself, and said, “Cuatro.”

I pressed the appropriate button and looked over at my younger brother, who smiled a little.

When we reached the fourth floor the doors opened and the couple exited the elevator.

After the doors closed everyone remaining in the elevator, including the rest of our crew and some strangers, laughed hard. We went to level five.

Now, as a Filipino, I do occasionally get mistaken for Mexican. My Spanish surname means I sometimes get mail from Latino special interest groups. But I am not offended by this, just as I am not offended by that lady. How would she know? It can be difficult. I could have gotten confrontational or corrected her in a condescending manner. Would that be helpful? Probably not. An elevator is not the place for lectures about race.

My reaction was not about that lady, but about the difficult nature of racial discussions. Even the most trivial, inconsequential exchanges can blow up because of misunderstandings. And while there are still issues with institutional racism and disgusting behavior (Trump rallies), white folks are caught up in a sort of verbal paralysis regarding race and that sucks for them. Not as much as actual practiced racism, but it sucks.

So please, don’t mind if I laugh about it every so often. I’m just coping with the absurdity of it all.

– Brown person.

6 thoughts on “A note on race and patience

  1. From one brown person to another….you’re exactly right. Sometimes I find the things that white people say to me(or the world in general)quite amusing, even if there are hints of ignorance or racism in it. I think our collective sense of humor is something that got sacrificed in the good fight against racism. I’ve been verbally attacked, physically attacked, and I’ve been completely ignored and dismissed because of the color of my shin, and if they want my pound of flesh, fine. But they won’t have my dignity, and never my sense of humor.

    • Minorities also say racists things too.

      • @PDL, yes they do. I’ve heard some vile things from both sides. Its unfortunate, but the humor derives from the ridiculousness of the words said and the pity for the person saying it.

  2. That’s really funny ML, we all come from different backgrounds and have a story to tell.
    My story is a little different I self-identify with the Afro-American community, as my mother is African American (lighter skin) and I was raised by her family in Oakland.
    My father whom I have never seen was (is) Irish and apparently I look a lot like him, so as one might imagine it was a little confusing growing up in Oakland in the seventies (end of Black Panther area), at a time when the African American community was discovering that black was beautiful, and I for all intensive prepossess looked like a lost little white boy in a community that was in the full swing of self-discovery.
    Anyway back then it wasn’t the in thing to be a mixed kid (as you see so much today), you were forced be your community to make a choice the question was always there “Are you black, or are you white?”, man so many time I wanted to scream “Did it ever cross your mind, that I could be both?”, I wish I had the strength back then as a child to state that more often than I did, but that’s life and we grow (hopefully), and move on. Man, lots of stories, lots of stories indeed.

  3. Its ignorance plain and simple, it goes both ways, people just don’t know but for some reason they can’t shut their mouths either. I think if someone isn’t sure they should just keep their mouths shut or at worst even though it is awkward as hell they should ask politely whatever their weird racial charged question or comment is so at least they are tempting to be sensitive.

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