A teachable moment. . .

Alternately titled “Post Racial America, my ass. . .”

I’m supposed to be on blogatus because of 100Bin100D and all, but I had an experience this weekend that blew my mind. Before I get into this story, allow me to share a few facts:

-I am a Black female.
-I STAN for Kelly Clarkson. The first & only Idol I’ve ever called in for. Trufax.
-I am most often the only Black person I see when I attend a KC concert. This does not bother me AT ALL. πŸ™‚ It does not seem to bother any of the people I come in contact with either.

So last weekend, I traveled with a few of my friends to Des Moines, IA for a KC concert. It was sure to be a rockin’ good time as a whole bunch of us were going. There were people I haven’t seen in a great while there and new people I was anxious to meet. πŸ™‚ I was driving up with a couple friends and a guy I’ve met a few times. The guy (let’s call him Mike since that’s his real name) seemed pretty okay. A bit weird (he’s into role playing games), but nothing extremely out of the ordinary. since he was on the way, I offered to drive Mike up to meet our other friends in Milawukee who were driving the rest of the way. I will go on record and say that I truly regret ever making the offer and giving the ride.

I didn’t know him that well prior to the ride, but by the end of the weekend I knew all I needed to know about him. I knew that he was someone with whom I would not like any contact with in the future by any means. It started on the ride up. I got lost while on the way to my friend Lisa’s house, so I pulled off to a side road to get directions. While we were on this side road, Mike spotted a sign that said something like “Crime Stoppers. We call police.” He points out the sign to me and then says, “I should bang on the window and yell help. They will probably think that you stole my car and my cell phone.” Apparently, this was hilarious to him because he repeated himself. Thrice. I brushed it aside and just calmly replied, “Ummmm, howboutno?”

I was ticked, but I thought maybe he thought he was being funny and it wasn’t necessarily racially motivated. I have a tendency to be a wee bit sensitive about race. There have been situations in which I’ve been involved that I feel a racist undercurrent, but others (who are the same race) didn’t feel it at all. One of my coworkers sometimes calls me “Lil Angela” (as in Davis) when it comes to my stance on racial topics, haha.

So nevertheless, we get to my friend’s house and begin the drive up to DeMo. In the car, Mike says something else related to my Blackness, but again I brush it aside. I don’t know if my other friends who were riding heard him (we were in the backseat and music was playing), so they didn’t have a clue of what was going on.

We get into DeMo and another friend meets up with us at our hotel. We’re in the room chilling and I don’t quite remember what was said, but I do remember Mike making a comment about me being there to clean the room. Everyone looked at him with the WTF face, but no one knew exactly how to respond. They hadn’t heard the earlier comments (and I hadn’t relayed them yet), so they were kinda shocked when I let them know what he said earlier.

I was so angry that I wanted to get physical, but all I could think was that I am in Des Moines, with a limited amount of funds. My people are NOT driving 6 hrs (one way) to bail my ass outta jail once I went apeshit on him. So I let Jesus hold my mule and began to do everything I could to avoid him for the rest of the time I was there. There were times when it was impossible to avoid him, but he kept making comments that had to do with me being Black.

The straw that broke the camel’s back happened on Saturday night. I had successfully maintained a minimal amount of interaction with Mike all day and I was in a good mood. That good mood, may or may not have had to do with my pitcher of strawberry daquiri/pina colada that I was sipping on as well, haha! Nevertheless, it was after the show and I rode w/ other friends back to the hotel and was chilling in their room. I needed to get someone from the room I was staying in and he was in there with the rest of our group. Some of the people let me know that they had ordered pizza and he calls out, “Yeah Jeanette. We got Black Olives on the pizza so you’d feel more comfortable.”

*pin drop* My friend JR lets him know that what he said WAS NOT acceptable. I politely gathered whatever the hell I came back for (left my damn drank!) and skated back to the other room. I was INCENSED! Everyone in the other room had no idea what was going on until I just burst into tears. I just could not take it anymore. I was completely and utterly outdone. Shout out to the people in the other room, too. They were very comforting. πŸ™‚

Fast forwarding a bit, JR came down from our room and let me know she had taken care of everything. He would not be riding back with us. She let me know that she could not possibly understand what I was feeling and that she was sorry about the whole situation. Not apologizing for him because a) how could she and 2) she had no idea that he’d be a blatant racist. When she spoke with him, he exhibited signs of remorse and said that he didn’t realize what he was saying was hurtful.

WOW. In my mind it’s like, “Dude, you may as well have called me a nigger.” Everyone else was visably uncomfortable when he made the last “joke”, yet he didn’t realize the effect of his words?! I’m not buying what he’s selling. *shrug* Sorry.

I am 26 27 years old and never in my life have I had to deal with anything like this before. As I stated earlier, I have been in situations where I felt how I was treated was racially tinged, but I’ve never been the direct target of someone’s racism. It cut me deeply and I can’t ever look at this guy ever again. He told my friend that he’ll apologize at a later date when things die down, but to be honest I don’t think I will ever accept his apology.

I refuse to believe that he comes from a stance of ignorance (in regards to not knowing how his words affected me). I believe that it was calculated. Especially since they continued for the whole damn weekend. One or two times? Okay, maybe you’re dumb and don’t know any better. After seeing that I was irritated by them, wouldn’t you get the hint? More than that? Completely intentional, in my mind.

6 thoughts on “A teachable moment. . .

  1. I'm glad you wrote this. I'm NOT glad that I was forced to ride in a car with him all the way to Chicago. I honestly don't know what to say only because I'm not Jeanette and don't know what you felt, but I do know that there are way too many dumb-arse idiots in this world, and we unfortunately came into contact with one this weekend, and I'm sorry.

    I miss you kids & hopefully will see you again soon!

  2. You have the patience of Job. I probably would have left his "need to get a clue" tail on the side of the road. There would have been no Kelly & no Des Moines for him. Just a lot of asphalt.

    I'm always amazed at what people think is acceptable. However, I would bet that he either doesn't interact with people of color regularly OR the ones he does interact with are "the only one" in his group and they laugh along with him for fear of being singled out.

  3. I'm glad you came out of hiatus to blog about this, J. I just … I can't even form words that would make sense right now. I'm still dumbfounded and appalled at his words. And to think, I thought he was a nice enough guy … and now — I don't think I can honestly say that I want to ever see him again. He hurt my friend, and that is UNEXCUSABLE. I'm so sorry that something like this had to happen, and mark my words — you KNOW we will do everything to make sure he stays far, far away. I don't care if a damn stranger has to sit with us in Chicago. He is not.

    For what it's worth — the rest of the weekend was AMAZING, AWESOME and so, SO much FUN! I miss everyone already, and a reunion is definitely in order!!!

  4. Yeah, so all that mule holding you was letting Jesus do…you're better than me because I would have pushed Jesus down to haul my mule on this fool. (BTW, I know this blog was a serious PSA but I SO am stealing "So I let Jesus hold my mule" because I haven't chuckled that hard at a blog in ages).

    Back to you though…like I said, you have better patience than me because the wisecracks in the car would have had me having a serious talk with him about what is appropriate to say to Black people and what is not. I'll pray for him because Lord knows he needs it…and then I'll pray for your nerves and that no more idiots dance on them. πŸ™‚

  5. First of (((((huggles)))) what a time for my phone to go dead. Mouf finally called AT&T for me and they had canceled my ish. Will need your opinion on a new phone shortly.

    Secondly, how many times have I asked you if you had bail money? Sista would've had to take out a loan is all.

    Thirdly, *clapping* kudos baby girl. Like someone said ole boy would've been left by the side of the road kicking asphalt and singing "King of the Road." Would I have thrown him out no, but by the time my mind cleared of the shock, he would've gotten out. If not I certainly would've let him have it whilst in the backseat of the other car. Gurrrrrrl, I dunno how you did it, cuz I would've gone North Phila on his ass.

    I don't buy the "I didn't know" bs excuse either. Same thing happened to me in college with some asshole. You would be well within your rights not to accept his apology. I wouldn't. Actually, he'd never have a chance to extend an apology.

  6. Ah finally, time to reply to everyone! Daggone job expecting me to work instead of replying to blog comments, lol!

    @L: I hate that you were forced to ride back w/ him, too. πŸ™ YOU have nothing to be sorry for because all of y'all in that room were so awesome when I was soupin' snot. LOL.

    @R4P: I honestly do think it was the hand of God keeping me still because I do not know how I managed to not take it there. I also thought your point about him probably joking w/ others who accepted it for fear of speaking up interesting. I think that definitely could have happened.

    @Lisa: You and JR deserve a prize, straight up. Thanks so much for having my back. πŸ™‚ We all thought he was nice enough, but his true colors finally shone through.

    @AW: Everyone has singled out that Jesus holding my mule line, IRL. Haha! It could not have been anyone BUT Jesus who was on my side though.

    @Philly: Your life sans phone = fail! LOL I miss our random sporadic conversations, friend! More likely than not he will not have the opportunity to offer an apology unless he approaches me at a concert during the fall tour (stop judging me people! I said I stan for the chick!). If he is ballsy enough to do so, I'll politely pretend as if he is wearing his invisibility cloak & ignore.

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