Wednesday, June 30, 2010

wonder if there's ever a wrong time to call out racism

A white reader named Margy wrote the following question, which some other white people undoubtedly have as well -- are there situations when it would be better to not step up and call out someone else's racism, even though we're ready and willing? If so, is the following one of them? And are there others?  ~macon


I have a question that comes from an experience I felt I handled badly. I was grocery shopping one day when I heard a middle-aged White woman refer to a Black employee as "young man." I was standing down the aisle from them, so I wasn't sure if I knew who she was talking to, but I was worried it might be a middle-aged employee that I knew.

As I moved closer, my hunch was confirmed that she had just called someone of similar age to her (he has greying hair) "young man." This set off alarm bells about the fictitious kinship/denial of adulthood White people use to keep POC 'in their place.' By the time I was close enough to call the racism out, they were each moving on in their business.

So, my question is this. Is there ever a time when calling attention to racism could cause more pain for a POC?

In this case, I was worried that by the time I recognized the employee for sure, I would be calling more attention to something painful that had already passed. But, it could very well have been my own moment of weakness.

Please answer if you can, for this situation and anything that could bring light to my question.

Thanks so much.

37 comments:

  1. Margy, I can definitely see how coming in after people have stopped speaking could feel awkward. However, with the luxury of being able to ponder it ahead of time, I think there's still room to say something.

    I'd say that acknowledging the screwed up situation to the person whom you knew would be appropriate ("did she just call you 'young man?' That's fucked up."). Similarly, addressing the woman who spoke would be appropriate ("did you just call him 'young man?' That's fucked up.").

    However, since the person you know *works* in this place, and chose not to confront this woman's racism, involving him in a potentially contentious conversation with a customer could be putting him in a difficult position. If he's concerned about keeping his job, he might feel that he needed to *reassure* the racist customer, in order to make sure that she didn't complain about him to management.

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  2. If someone had called me a racist name in public but I didn't hear it (due to being Deaf), I would be grateful if someone else stepped up and defended me and let me know what that person just called me, so I can talk back to the racist person.

    But I know that it's not the same for everyone. Some people would rather that a (white) person not call out racism, but maybe it would be a good idea to approach the person in private and ask them how they felt.

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  3. You don't know how that woman might have reacted. Calling someone who is not dramatically younger than you "young man" shows a great deal of entitlement, she could have felt entitled to make a fuss about being called out on it as well. Attracting attention to an employee in a negative way could flag them in the mind of the employer as a "problem-employee". I would not play hero when someone's job could be at risk. You go home feeling better about yourself, he stays there to deal with the consequences.

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  4. Margy said…
    “As I moved closer, my hunch was confirmed that she had just called someone of similar age to her (he has greying hair) "young man." This set off alarm bells about the fictitious kinship/denial of adulthood White people use to keep POC 'in their place.' By the time I was close enough to call the racism out, they were each moving on in their business.”

    In this case it seems quite inappropriate to call a POC so close to her own age ‘Young man.’ My guess would be if you had called attention to it the man would have waved you off saying, “oh it’s alright…” because it’s not worth the hassle. Moreover, by calling the woman out in his presence, you've effectually treated him as the child; assuming him inept at fighting his own battles without your intervention. In this sense you’d come off as a caped-crusader pouncing upon racist ne'er-do-wells, showing them the error of their ways.

    Sometimes we POC must be selective in our battles because it's too exhausting (both mentally and spiritually) to engage a white person at every slight. Especially while on his job- where the boss/others could easily accuse him of “reading too much into the situation.”

    I would take note of the incident yes, but letting the matter slide would be the best course. Maybe this helps to show how racist incidents happen more often than whites are willing to admit. As most whites need to see it with their own eyes before they will believe it.

    Course, if the offending person had been your Mother, Sister or intimate-other; you would have been free to let loose in a manner of your choosing. Once you got them outside of course...

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  5. Queen of the CynicsJune 30, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    Perhaps I'm a cynic, but I look at this White hand-wringing over whether they would make things better or worse and just see another excuse to not to jack shit about the racism that's in front of them everyday, because White only seem to care about 'causing pain to POC' when it means they can do nothing. The very title of this post is pissing me off. I guess it's just an insight into how White people see anti-racism.

    @Margy
    By the time you got there they had finished talking. Okay. Answer me this: what stopped you from walking up to the woman and saying "Did you really just call a middle-aged co-worker 'young man' as if he were some teenaged part-timer?" I'll answer that for you, nothing. You excused yourself from doing anything because the conversation was over, as if that is some monumental roadblock to fighting racism.

    When you see POC profiled in stores do you also not do anything because 'oh well they already left the store out of disgust and I need to get some nice sweaters so I guess I'll just finish my shopping'?

    As a general comment, I've seen how these comment threads go and I guess it's only a matter of time before the points in my comment are met with White Woman's tears, denial, tone argument, intent defenses and ultimately a derail.

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  6. Please. First of all, calling him "young man" was not racist. Calling him "boy" (and I've seen that happen) would have been.

    Secondly, jeez, you're not the effin' racism police, and you don't really know the motive of the speaker.

    You did the right thing by keeping quiet.

    And I'm a 53 year old black woman.

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  7. Queen of the CynicsJune 30, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    Six comments in and there it is:

    Please. First of all, calling him "young man" was not racist. Calling him "boy" (and I've seen that happen) would have been.

    Secondly, jeez, you're not the effin' racism police, and you don't really know the motive of the speaker.

    You did the right thing by keeping quiet.

    And I'm a 53 year old black woman.


    -denial of racism
    -police hyperbole
    -motive/intent argument
    -encouraging lack of action

    This site is so predictable it's almost funny, except it's not.

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  8. How old is middle-aged?

    Because I have seen similar things play out between a number of different ethnic groups based solely on senility.

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  9. island girl in a land w/o seaJune 30, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    this is definitely swpd, asking whether there's ever a wrong time to call out racism. it's not like there's a decision tree or algorithm for deciding if the time is right to speak up. there are so many different combinations of conditions in place in any given situation that no hard-and-fast rules can be set.

    perhaps white people would do well to develop the kind of intuition that many POC have about confronting racism. as another commenter stated, we POC have to pick our battles. knowing when to fight is a skill developed largely through trial and error, observation, and reflection. certainly i've cultivated this sense of timing by making many, many painful mistakes.

    but if there were a hard-and-fast rule, it might be this: it's generally counterproductive, and potentially hazardous to your health and well being, to immediately call out a police or judge who has just said or done something racist.

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  10. Queen of the CynicsJune 30, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    How old is middle-aged?

    Because I have seen similar things play out between a number of different ethnic groups based solely on senility.


    And another derail that completely distracts from the point about a white woman patronising a black man of the same age by calling him 'young man'. Keep it up y'all, you're in rare form today.

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  11. @ Queen
    You think she should have said something. Got it.

    @Margy
    AS a POC that has witnessed and endured many such an occasion, I don't believe in presuming to teach racists good manners in every situation. If I catch someone in mid-racist volley, whether aimed at me or at someone else, I will definitely cut them off and let them know what's up. But if I'm too late for the party I'm not about to chase fools into a parking lot to correct their wicked ways. Particularly if my doing so might cost the injured party his/her job.

    More likely I'd have mentioned something to him about what I'd overheard. Likelier than that, I would have just made a point to ask him where I could find an item, with respect and tact.

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  12. generally I would say you have to do what feels right to you at the time, without letting fear of breaking social convention get in the way.

    I think the point is to challenge everyday racist behavior while minimizing collateral damage and not making a big show.

    Often, as WP we can afford to challenge racism in situations where POC cannot. I feel that's a privilege we are obligated to take advantage of. Think of what it might have cost this man to stand up to that woman compared that to what it would cost you.

    Now he clearly chose not to react personally. It seems like WP often force POC to stand up for themselves by making racist comments when they are just trying to live. (Then we act like they WANT to make a big deal out of it adding insult to injury) You don't want to in effect take his choice away by involving him. Forcing him to make a stand when it may be very costly to him but not to you is very privileged behavior I think.

    So wait till he's not around, say something to her about it, and then go on about your business.

    In the end you might screw up sometimes but we all know where doing nothing has gotten us so far.

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  13. Please forgive me, but how old did he look to you? I'm just throwing this out there, but it just occurred to me that some POC tend to look younger for our age. It may have been that the black man in question looked younger for his yrs, and therefore she naturally assumed herself to be the elder?

    Now that’s just a thought. Unless I'm missing something like inflection or tone in her manner. From my own personal experience I’m a 52 year-old black man (53 this Dec.) and I still (and this is the God’s honest truth) have people assuming me to be the younger.

    Had a young white Nurse ask me over 3 times to repeat my age at a clinic while giving information. I’ve had people walk on my porch and ask if my Mother was home. I’ve had friends of my children approach them and ask about their brother (me) not knowing that I was the Father. So you see that’s an angle I didn’t consider until now. Bought a car two yrs ago with my wife of 29 yrs. in tow and the young white salesman assumed we were Mother and Son. I still wave it off (pick your battles) because it makes no sense to get upset (well, she was) but I do find that it is whites who mistake me for being younger way more often than blacks (and will talk down to me based upon that assumption). Maybe that's the racist part- I'm not sure, but you can spend hrs racking your brain over little details like this.

    I think for some whites we do all look alike, so even in that sense the encounter might be bothersome. The original poster knew the POC to be similar to the woman's age but we're not sure if the woman knew his true age. He may have simply appeared younger to her. Does this make sense? I have a head of gray hair to boot, and I'm still assumed to be younger than most whites I encounter.

    Please feel free to beat me upside the head for the derail (and the vanity) if I'm wrong and it was something more. But it does make me re-think my comments. Not the coming to the rescue part- I'm glad you didn't do that. After much deliberation I would have resented you for speaking out on my behalf.

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  14. @Jane Laplain and others re: mention to the man what you noticed.

    I think this is reasonable and a positive show of solidarity as opposed to rescuing him (which, as M. Gibson said, infantilizes the man).

    I don't know if there's a wrong time as much as a wrong motivation at times. If you want to rescue a POC from a perceived racist, then you might check your own racism in placing yourself in the role of rescuer (besides the harm has been done in terms of the way she addressed the store employee, so it wouldn't be intervening to end an intolerable situation) If, on the other hand, you see a chance to educate your own kind and are willing to identify with the "racist" person (to tell her how you have been just as clueless at times, for example), then do speak out, but later, as suggested.

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  15. What I find most offensive is Margy's concern that she would cause more pain if she pointed out racism. Sounds like the concern of a cowardly oppressor. She should keep shopping because she'll probably do more harm than good if she says something.

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  16. As a Black person or POC I guess, sometimes people may say things that others see as racist but a lot of times we know the difference between somebody just saying something and someone who is clearly racist. If you feel like someone was being disrespectful though, by all means say something. Don't hold your tongue. Just politely intervene.

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  17. At the risk of whitesplaining, I find this whole discussion confusing. I personally think it is offensive to call anyone over age 7 "young man" and would not excuse anyone under the age of 80 from this criticism on the grounds of age. I have heard white men (frequently doctors) address elderly white women as "young lady," which I think is meant to be friendly and charming, but which I also find offensive. In my subculture, "young man" or "young lady" are mostly terms that older people use when reprimanding younger people, so I can imagine no circumstance in which this would not be insulting (or at least aggressive) as a way of addressing a person working in a store. In fact, I still tend to address all strangers in public, including children, as sir or ma'am, even though I'm now older than most people and nobody ever thinks I'm humble or submissive. But I can tell that at least some of the commentators think older people have the right to use this form of address to anyone younger than themselves and thus are focusing on the question of how readily apparent age is.

    Having said this, there is still the question of whether to speak up and, if so, what to say and to whom to say it. From my cultural standpoint, what the woman said was offensive. People who work in retail have to be polite to customers no matter what they say, or risk losing their jobs. Building on what I've learned from this thread and earlier threads, if one is going to say anything, the two possible responses seem to me to be, (1) to speak to the woman after the man is off the scene and say, "I am uncomfortable with the way you addressed that worker as young man; I think it is important to be polite to workers who have to be polite to you." or (2) to speak to the man separately after the woman is gone and say, "I am uncomfortable with how that woman spoke to you and am sorry she treated you that way."

    But I think any kind of confrontation while the man is still in the presence of the woman could only hurt the man who has to stay polite to keep his job.

    And, um, I guess I should say that I agree with the people who are complaining that some white people seem to think that you can memorize a playbook which will always let you know what to do in a racially complicated situation to avoid getting criticized by others.

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  18. "Sometimes we POC must be selective in our battles because it's too exhausting (both mentally and spiritually) to engage a white person at every slight. Especially while on his job- where the boss/others could easily accuse him of “reading too much into the situation.”

    A-freakin'-men!

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  19. I gave up on this question several years ago and call it like I see it each and every time. It's not easy each time, but I think it's important for those of us who can do it consistently and persistently to do it.

    In fact, I believe it's the wrong question. I believe the question is about propriety and politeness. I know that these manners that cause me to respond to moments of conflict in public with anxiety, often outright dread, are bad habits that bad people use to get what they want from others. I refuse to participate in polite society.

    The issue is not "educating your own kind" at all. This is all about the public sphere wherein we are supposedly safe to speak about matters where we find both agreement and disagreement. Only we're not all safe in the public sphere. It's within the public sphere that white power works in the most mundane manner, often encouraging people who might be otherwise disposed to quietly observe.

    It's a choice we have. Do we quietly live within a society that itself often silently manipulates a white power structure for the profit of privileged individuals and entities or do we do something about it?

    It's not a part-time job. It used to be called being a race traitor. I still like that tag.

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  20. Queen of the CynicsJune 30, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    Obviously POC should never be reprimanded for not calling out an instnace of racism, if only because we would go mad if we tried to. The fact that the man was an employee and the white offender was a customer makes it even more unlikely that he would say anything. Obviously the rules are different for white people, and a white person and fellow shopper (Margy) wondering if she should have said something is nothing but a cop out.

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  21. @olderwoman I agree that it's odd to address any grown man as "young man" unless you're elderly, but I wonder.

    Not elderly being addressed by a doctor, but I've had a man who I'd peg as just slightly older address me as "young lady" when asking for something (and I have gray hair, so it was clearly some kind of weird attempt at flattery, I think). It didn't bother me but it was awkward.

    It sounds like the woman might have had a condescending tone of voice, which could make me think she's racist, but she could also just be sort of... presumptuous, and would address a white male employee in the same way, sort of the way some people will hiss "Miss. MISS!" to get a middle-aged female server's attention in a restaurant. Kind of the "I'm the paying customer so I get to be a bit patronizing" thing. Also problematic but maybe classist rather than racist.)

    Maybe I'm totally wrong, but thought I'd throw it out there.

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  22. Queen of the CynicsJuly 1, 2010 at 1:05 AM

    Just realised that should read "Obviously POC should never be reprimanded for not calling out an instance of racism, if only because we would go mad if we tried to do so everytime it happened."

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  23. Cynical about Queen of the CynicsJuly 1, 2010 at 7:03 AM

    "Perhaps I'm a cynic, but I look at this White hand-wringing over whether they would make things better or worse and just see another excuse to not to jack shit about the racism that's in front of them everyday, because White only seem to care about 'causing pain to POC' when it means they can do nothing. The very title of this post is pissing me off. I guess it's just an insight into how White people see anti-racism."

    If the reader had been concerned about the feelings of the (racist) woman who made the comment, I could understand your anger; however, considering the feelings and position of the person on the receiving end of the racist comment while he or she is on the JOB shows much more thought and care in my opinion. The merit in standing up to racism is diminished if you disregard the feelings of human beings in the process. Personally, I don't want someone swooping in to save me from racism in my workplace. Respect me enough to handle my own business and pick and choose my battles for myself.

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  24. JB: Peoples' actions don't become non-racist just because they also insult white people. It isn't about classifying internal motives into exactly one category, it is about the consequences of actions. Anyone who has been raised in a racist society who is in the habit of behaving rudely to people "below" one in status is likely to behave rudely to people of color, whether conscious of racial intent or not. The consequences are that people of color encounter more rudeness, and this harms them. That's racism -- one part of it, anyway.

    When I'm trying to get a waiter's attention I say "Ma'am, ma'am" or "sir, sir" in probably the same annoying tone, and I KNOW I've had to be called on being patronizing, insensitive and classist with coworkers, as well as racist or racially insensitive at times. I'm considered "good" on these issues at work not because I behave all that well all the time, but because I accept criticism when I behave badly and don't go around claiming the right to be rude or insensitive.

    It would be a derail to get into a discussion of the sexism I think is involved when white men try to flatter or patronize us older women by calling us "young lady" so I won't go there.

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  25. Queen of the CynicsJuly 1, 2010 at 8:21 AM

    If the reader had been concerned about the feelings of the (racist) woman who made the comment, I could understand your anger; however, considering the feelings and position of the person on the receiving end of the racist comment while he or she is on the JOB shows much more thought and care in my opinion. The merit in standing up to racism is diminished if you disregard the feelings of human beings in the process. Personally, I don't want someone swooping in to save me from racism in my workplace. Respect me enough to handle my own business and pick and choose my battles for myself.

    Did you not read the part where I said she should have said something afterwards? In this case, swooping in while the convo was going on would be bad, but what about after, as a conversation starter with the white woman?

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  26. My first impression is that it was a weird, socially awkward attempt by the woman to flatter a man her own age or to joke with him. I've had more than one man of that generation call me "young lady" in a joking way. I don't think it was necessarily racist or that it is inappropriate to disagree with the poster's interpretation of it. In any event, I'd have left it alone too. I wouldn't approach a stranger to holler at her about something that may or may not have bothered this guy and I wouldn't embarrass the guy by calling attention to it. Maybe it would have been appropriate to smile at the employee when it was your turn to pay and say "Boy, that was kind of weird! I don't think I'd like it if someone called me that"

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  27. @Queen

    In this case, swooping in while the convo was going on would be bad, but what about after, as a conversation starter with the white woman?

    The customer's opportunity for retaliation against the black employee is TOO great in my opinion. She could very well have become hostile when a complete stranger approached her, however gently, to broach the subject of her racism. I don't know about you but I have no trouble envisioning a situation where she pulls a WWT and makes a big fuss to management about being harassed by a "friend" of the employee, which would have ended up making HIM out the bad guy.

    In general, jumping in as its happening, YES. Reviving an ugly incident just to offer your two cents, HUGE RISK OF BACKFIRE. The focus should always be on defending the injured party from further harm. Would confronting the woman accomplish that? OR is it more important to consult the gentleman and respect his wishes?

    Getting the bad guys has to be secondary to protecting the good guys. You simply can't always do both in every situation.

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  28. @olderwoman Points taken.

    @urbacus says: "Maybe it would have been appropriate to smile at the employee when it was your turn to pay and say 'Boy, that was kind of weird! I don't think I'd like it if someone called me that'."

    I think that's what I'd ultimately do, too. It's acknowledging "I saw what she said to you and it's uncool". It doesn't do anything to school the woman involved in the incident but at least doesn't seem like you're blithely ignoring the way someone was treated, while not being inappropriate either if the man wants to shrug it off.

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  29. A dissenting opinion.
    "Is there ever a time when [a WP] calling attention to racism could cause more pain for a POC?". My answer is "HELLYESYOUBETCHA!" When the POC is (or feels ze is) being used as the WP's backup/cushioning/cookie jar, YES.

    As a BW, I'm not at all comfortable with advising the OP to engage the BM in this situation.
    Caution.
    Think about it: how is he supposed to respond to that? You walk up and say, "hey, that woman was just rude to you, prolly cuz of your race! so not cool!" What's he supposed to say/think? "Thanks for letting me know"? "Yeah, that sucked!"? As someone who's been there, I can tell you that "awesome, now I've been humiliated twice" is extremely likely.

    Now, admittedly, it truly sucks when you've been mistreated and bystanders see, but studiously pretend not to notice. That's its own double-humiliation. But then again, the last thing I'd want after walking away from what I thought was a private humiliation by some WW, would be being confronted by some pitying WW wanting to hash it out with me! Also humiliating!

    In a situation like this, I really don't think a WP (especially a WW— it's complicated) is in a position to commiserate or offer support or whatever. It's not the same as if, say, I were to go there. [And frankly, "even" I probably wouldn't actually say something to him about it. I'd probably give the ol' across-the-room eyeroll of solidarity-in-wtf (which, crucially, does not demand/solicit a response).] What might look like affinity coming from, say, me— could, from a WW stranger, EASILY come off as pity. Or worse, cookie-seeking ("see, I'm not like her... right? right?"). Or even worse, that special flavor of delighted-to-be-appalled dishing that some WP do ("ooo, was it just awful?? tell me all about it!") Not helpful, to say the least.

    Speaking of which: what, exactly, would be the point of talking to him be, anyway? He's not the one with the problem; the patronizing WW is. She's the one who needs to be hipped to her issues. I say, if you're going to say anything, it'd need to be said to the WW (out of earshot of the BM— you're the one opting to take this on; if he'd wanted to get into it, he would've.* Nailing him to the spot because you, with all your social protections, feel up to confronting racism that day/moment would be awfully presumptuous*).

    As for exactly what to say to such a woman (without being met with anger, rejected as a busybody, or washed in WWT)... I honestly have no idea. WP talkin' to WP about racism, in private? Not my department, obviously. But I will say that it probably shouldn't be about that particular BM ("you were rude to that man just now"). Better if it's about the objectively problematic nature of what she said ("fyi, that is rude"). Otherwise, you're now two WW having a conversation about That Black Man Over There. Muuuch too easy to screw that up.

    And of course, none of the difficulties of Saying Something to her should be an excuse. Yes, you'd be calling her out with zero backup. And yes, it probably wouldn't go over well. Them's the anti-racist breaks, people. (Discomfort is where I live. Join me!) If it's a problem, it's a problem, and she absolutely should—must— experience peer disapproval. Anything else is support.

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  30. @kerinova
    You said it better but we seem to be in total agreement. Crazy.

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  31. @ karinova

    I so agree. Cuz honestly I know I'd have done exactly what you said if it were me: eye-roll with him in solidarity then move on. But I can do that only because I'm black too.

    I was thinking the OP had said this is a person she actually knows: "I was worried it might be a middle-aged employee that I knew."

    so I assumed she might be on friendly enough terms to ask him if he was okay about what happened. But then that leaves me asking, if that's true... then why is she asking SWPD how she should have handled it when she could be asking him?

    So, I dunno. If she is yet another WW stranger in this man's life, then the potential for racefail by confronting either of them is way too high. I'm siding with you on this one.

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  32. Queen of the CynicsJuly 1, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    @Jane
    I doubt that the WW would assume the OP knew the BM. WP tend to not see other WP as acquaintances with POC unless it's explicitly brought up. And WP take 'accusations' of racism more seriosuly from other WP and seem to get much less defensive when their racism is brought up by other WP than by POC, so white WWT may happen, I don't think it would have been a problem. If nothing else, she could have just made a casual comment about it a few minutes later and drop the convo if it wasn't going anywhere. I just hate the do nothing stance, especially when WP have nothing to lose. No hard feelings Jane, I can agree with what you're saying, WP have just really crossed me a lot this week and maybe that's affecting my response to this situation.

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  33. As Karinova has drawn attention to, the likelihood of being insulting rather than helpful or decent is one to be taken seriously, especially by white women, like myself. And I also agree with Queen of the Cynics that it's very easy to use potential complications as a permission slip to do nothing.
    My best thought right now is that white people need to just practice active awareness in the public places we go into (I specify 'public' because it seems that is where people report being most 'surprised' and caught off guard by racism and face these unanticipated quandaries of how a white person can respond)and as we educate ourselves and listen to the POC in our online or real-life communities, we'll develop discernment to read situations and their dynamics better.
    And commitment to responsible interactions/actions will mean Margie might embarrass herself, or offend others at times, and we'll just have to accept the spite of that middle-aged white woman, or, if we've blown it and added to the insult and offense towards that employee, to apologize gracefully, respectfully, and learn to do better.

    I know that's not a very focused answer, but the question seems like it wants a shortcut, a handy rule of thumb, and as other commenters are noting, there isn't a prefab solution. The desire to simplify situations often results in the over-simplification and reduction of the people involved in the situation, and it seems to me the only thing is to negotiate the complications forthrightly.

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  34. thanks so much. i really appreciate you all helping me with this one.

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  35. hmm.. this is a toughy indeed.

    however i do believe white people would likely be the BEST people to call out racism to other whites. Sure, they might call you a n-lover, or whatever, but i think they would listen more. if you are a POC then they will just assume you're playing the race card. at least thats what i think.

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  36. i just wanted to send thanks out again to everyone who responded on this one. i'm still working on getting it right. m.gibson, i am sorry i missed your question about age. it was clear to me at least that they were the same age. and i used the word 'knew' too ambiguously. knew as in recognize/say hi to/have casual conversation about produce, not as in have sensitive conversations. jane, m.gibson, queen of the cynics, karinova - i really appreciate your comments. judging from the WW's outward demeanor she seemed like the type of person who would have made a stink about anything (her full comment was "young man, you don't have ANY fatfree yogurt in this store?"). and her explosion would have been the WORST situation because it is about protecting the good guys beyond all (thanks jane exactly right). but i agree that a WP is in the best position to call out racism, so i need to be MUCH more active taking action when appropriate and have a plan, rather than fumbling in indecision. anything less is tacit approval (thanks queen of the cynics, karinova).

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