I miss the liberal, progressive South...
May 30, 2013 8:49 AM Subscribe
I moved from a liberal city in the South to New York City, and now it seems that every other person I talk to is openly racist. I was not prepared for this and have no idea how to handle it.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (63 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
First off I should say I am white. So this is not about me encountering racism directed at myself.
I was born and raised in the South, but I and my family always ran in pretty liberal and educated circles, and from childhood all the way through college, I never heard a friend or acquaintance make a racist remark. Honestly, I didn't. I heard people say such things, but they weren't people I really knew. I was raised to question any racist feelings that might arise in myself, and to tear them down. So were all my friends.
I am not saying this to make myself sound like some sort of awesome person. I know that I'm not. To me, this is like saying "I was raised to think stealing is wrong" or something. It was, to me, simply a fact. Racism equals nasty and wrong. Full stop.
So, I move to NYC. And I assume... well, I guess I just was not prepared for the idea that the way I was raised is not the norm. But it seems that it isn't. Because I just keep, keep, keep meeting people in social situations, people who seem to be on the same wavelength as me, and then the most abhorrent shit comes out of their mouths and they aren't saying it to challenge me, it's as if they honestly have no idea that anyone might think it was wrong. And I have NO IDEA how to react to it, and I have no idea how to stop meeting these people and start meeting people who think RACISM is BAD. I did not think that would be hard to do.
-I complain to a guy I'm dating that a guy next to me on the train was sitting with his legs spread super wide, making it hard for me to sit. Guy I'm dating says "Was he black?" with this, like, knowing look on this face. (He wasn't.)
-At a party, a guy tells a story that basically goes "This big black guy came in for a computer-based interview test and did a really bad job. We were like, he's totally going to wait outside for us and jump us!" That's the entire story. And of course the guy didn't jump them because he was a regular fucking guy. Several people laugh.
-My old roommate says "We can't go to that movie theater, that's the black people theater. They'll yell at the screen."
-Another ex- a guy I was close to falling in love with- busts out with "You know, it really makes me ill to see white women dating black men." WHAT. THE. FUCK.
I'm not meeting these people in all the same places, although some are part of a very tight-knit friend group which I am also a part of. And I'm like... yes, I guess I could dump that hole group, racists and non-racists, and go look for other people to spend time with... but I can't be sure I won't just meet OTHER super racist people because it keeps happening! And there seems to be no way to screen for it. People who seem to be kind and empathetic will just come out with these things out of nowhere. I am starting to feel like I'm crazy, that my values are shared by almost no one else alive, that I'm weird for not being racist too. (Not that I plan to start.)
I have no interest in causing a scene and getting into arguments with racists when these things happen. I'm not looking for cutting bon mots with this question. I guess I'm asking a few things:
-How common is this attitude? How often am I going to come across this? Up until age 23 or 24 I never really encountered it up close and it has been consistently shocking to me.
-Is there anything I can say that WON'T start a massive argument when these things come up- like "That makes me uncomfortable" as opposed to "fuck you you fucking fuck" or something- or should I just make a note of it and then stop seeing these people?
-How can I screen for it more effectively, especially when finding people to date? Is there some sort of surefire way to meet people who find this sort of thing as abhorrent as I do?
I know this is a lot of questions... I'm just saddened and frustrated and confused. I thought I was moving to liberal mecca and the opposite seems to have happened.