How We Deal With Racism

Some years ago, I was invited to a TGIF with an administrator, and three other teachers, two of them women. They had a couple of drinks; I had a beer. Before long, the two men began talking sports as the women sat demurely. The talk turned to Black athletes, then to one in particular, one who played for the local university football team. The talk turned further; now we were talking about his male appendage and how impossibly big and long it was. The talk grew more and more salacious, with numerous racial references. The women did not really join in. The guys were really into it. True to form, I just let it roll on. How do we know what these people do if we shut them down at the first reference to someone being Black? How would we have ever gotten to his dick?
What I found truly amazing…… and you have to understand that the references to Blacks were derogatory and contained all the stereotypes…… was that one of the men, the administrator, and both women, knew my wife! No mention was ever made of any impropriety occurring. Later, I asked one of the women what she thought about it and she said she thought it was disgusting. The other, if I remember correctly, passed it off as guys drinking, etc. Now both women, for a fact, were strong defenders of minority students and their rights. Yet they allowed those two men to swagger off, satisfied they had upheld the macho image they aspired to. I might add that both women were attractive.
Instead of throwing up our hands and enunciating platitudes about stamping out racism and not accepting racial talk, IOW, opening ourselves up to charges of Political Correctness, why not let the bigots spout and then analyze the roots of their behavior?
What is going on with these people? The women probably didn’t want to alienate the men; after all, they have to work with them. But what were the men doing? I did understand that their exaggerations of the size of this football player did two things: it dehumanized him and it went toward explaining his prowess on the playing field. It may also have been a way to sound out the women on their interest in sex, sex with these guys. All in all, what struck me is how similar to other conversations I’ve heard over the years, ones which placed Blacks firmly in the “Other” category, which hinted at danger (big dicks betoken animalistic strength, brute strength), and at the horror of White women “spoiled” by sex with over-natured Black bucks. Amazing is the only word that keeps coming to mind, amazing b/c it is a narrative, apparently a narrative common to our culture. I wonder how far back it goes? Just to Reconstruction, when Blacks broke loose and became real threats to White power? To slavery, even though the control over Black bodies was much greater? To Africa itself, and the shocks experienced by Europeans upon seeing the color of these people who appeared human, yet had this skin and the features so unlike Europeans? (Winthrop Jordan’s White Over Black describes this well)
Other people’s thoughts and experiences would be good to have.
BTW, I put this under the category of Minority Students because these were teachers, all of whom deal with Black students.

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