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.