Sunday, March 15, 2015

The day I discovered racism

(Pic by Rachel)

I just spent an hour writing an email. In doing so I feel as if I've exhausted whatever impulses I had towards writing. We'll see.

Nobody writes emails any more. I've looked through my inbox, going backwards in time, and it seems that people stopped writing emails around 2007. I mean, you'll still get emails but they have the basic content and literary value of a text message. Everything is a "chat," discussion is dead. It has been more than a decade since the post box contained anything that resembled correspondence.

I'm getting old. Last night a guy sitting next to me said, Whoah, whoah, dude! You don't have to say that...

We were watching a UFC fight and I referred to one of the fighters as "the black guy." He explained that that phrase is "not okay."

Since when?

The guy that I went to the bar with told me that the phrase "black guy" isn't really used any more.

Again I asked, Since when?

I mean, I get it, that someone might take offense with the phrase, but nobody is rushing to cease the use of "white guy" in conversation.

So, I've become an old white guy that wonders why the word "negro" angers people. No, I kid, of course. But it's impossible not to see it in a somewhat personal / historical perspective. Words and phrases that were once okay no longer are. I get it.

I hear people say "black guy" all the time, though. Am I expected to wince now and express disapproval?

Later, the guy at the bar and I had a pretty good time "chatting" and he turned out to be a racist also. I forget what he said, but he dropped some old school descriptive racial terms here and there. We had a good time laughing about it.

He was half-black. That's not how he described it, but he explained that he had one black parent. I said, Yeah, I can tell. If someone saw us talking you would be the black guy and I'd be the white guy. Right?

He said, Would you describe me as a black guy? 

Yes, because you're a black guy.

I'm not all black. I'm just as white as I am black. 

No, you're not. You're a black guy.

Could you tell that my mother was white?

No, but I can tell that you have a black parent.

We laughed at the stupidity of such things. It all started, I think, because I called one fighter a "cracker." This set the tone for the rest of the conversation. I explained that I am from Florida, and these are my people. The term is a technical one, and not meant as a pejorative.

So that you'll better understand, here are the two fighters:

Can you tell which one is the black guy?

Well, he won the fight.

My newfound racist buddy said, You don't even know what you're talking about. He's not black, he's Dutch.

There are no black guys in The Netherlands? There have been every time that I've ever been there. 

So, now I have to stop saying "black guy," so as not to offend the tender hearted amongst us. It's not as if I'm a huge fan of the phrase anyway. My new phrase will be "the fellow with the discernibly African lineage."

I'm not sure that's an improvement.

I just did an internet search on the subject and there is no reasonable answer. The one thing that everybody online could agree upon was that it was the Irish guy that caused all of the problems.