Day 610- Racism?

Tywana and I are in Florida for a few days. We stopped by Publix to pick up two items. As we were standing in line to check out, this guy (white guy) pushes past us and hands a sausage to the cashier. I assumed he was with the other guy who was in front of us checking out. He didn’t say a word. No “Excuse me.”, nothing. He didn’t even acknowledge our presence. It turns out he was not with the other guy. He had just gone back to get the sausage and returned to line where his items were on the belt and handed it to the cashier. She checked him out and we moved up to take our turn.

As soon as he left, the cashier, a young white girl, immediately said “I’m sorry.” Tywana asked why she was apologizing. She said “That guy was so rude. He didn’t say ‘Excuse me’ or anything to you. He could have just waited. You only had two items. I can’t believe how he acted. What are you gonna do about people like that.” We agreed he had been rude, but what impressed me was that this young lady not only noticed his behavior, she acknowledged it and she apologized on his behalf.

Now, the question. Was his behavior racist or just rude? Would he have done that had we been white? We will never know. This is just one of those incidents in life that leaves you wondering about the rude behavior of some people when it’s directed to you, as a minority. Are they racist or just ill-mannered? What we do know is this young lady handled it fantastically. And that gives me hope for the future.

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  1. I had an issue just the other day that was almost exactly the same, in reverse. I am white, and I work in retail. There was a black lady on a scooter who needed some help with something, I forget what, but I helped her with a few issues. Once she felt she could handle the rest on her own, she and I parted, but a few minutes later, I happened to go in the same aisle as her again. This time, there was ANOTHER black lady with her kids, and because she was part of a larger family and the other was on a scooter, there was no way for me to pass. Once the second lady caught on to this, she said to the first lady (on the scooter) “Oh, I’m sorry I’m in your way, I’ll just be a second. SHE (pointing at me) can wait.” And she said it very disdainfully. I thought that was pretty bitchy, honestly, but retail can be that way sometimes. I went on about my business when a few minutes later the scooter lady found me again. She said, “I just want to apologize to you about what happened back there. I am SO sorry that woman was rude to you. Some people are just jerks.” Filled my heart! :-) I don’t know if second lady talked that way to me because I’m white or because I was an employee, but first lady’s point still stands. “Some people are just jerks”. Maybe we should stop seeing things as a white vs black issue, and remember that some people, regardless of color, are just jerks.

    1. I’m sorry for your experience, Deirdre. Please allow me to explain how it is different from any experience I have and how your comment can come across as dismissive.

      There is a history of over 400 years of racism in America. There is a power dynamic because the majority of people are white and white people have a majority of the power. While just about every Black person has had an experience because of their race, very few white people have.

      Yes. Some people are just jerks. But some people are also racists. Whenever I have an experience with a jerk, the spectre of racism hangs over it. It’s quite possible that the woman treated you badly because you are white. But it’s not likely and it’s certainly not systemic.

      Black people do have different experiences based on our skin color.