Racism without malice

Last night we went to the ASU football game. I am not a sports fan but my wife had to be peeled off the ceiling when she got the tickets. If you think you know Tempe, you should come back. I was there a few weeks ago, on campus, and last night was totally lost. Fortunately, my son drove. We were accompanied also by my wife’s nephew.
We entered and showed our tickets. The official directed us back out and around, which made sense since our tickets were for a loge or box. (My old anthro department had had a homecoming the night before and the alumni person gave my wife the tickets – about $1000 worth!).
The stadium is huge. After a while, I had no regrets about missing my leg workout that day b/c we walked forever as each official we showed the tickets to sent us off in another direction, up three levels, back down, around to the other side, and on and on. There were officials and security in such numbers that I’ll bet their combined salaries for last night amounted to the entire university budget when I went there in 1959.
Eventually, we found a table that admitted it looked like we should have been sent to the right place but were not and they called in the heavies, two lovely ladies in uniform who assured us they would take us right to our spot. Sure enough, they did, a bank of elevators that went up to loges.
As we walked behind our guides, my son muttered, “Racism, pure and simple.” That was unusual for my son to say something like that and I didn’t get it. I asked him. He said everyone but the first official had seen the tickets said “loge” but couldn’t believe these Black people would have loge seating. Then it hit me how a couple of times, incl. at the last table, officials turned to me, the only White in the group, to ask me if they could help me, as if I weren’t part of the group.
Usually my wife is the one who spots that sort of thing, but we were at the mercy of our son who is a very take-charge kind of person and knew the stadium somewhat, but he’d never been in a loge either. So why would some not classify that as racism? And was it really all that big a deal?
To answer the last, imagine you are a young Black person going to a job interview in a prestige firm. As the appointment time approaches, you get directed and misdirected b/c the people directing you (noting they could themselves be of any ethnicity) don’t think of you as someone interviewing for such a position. So you’re late to the interview.
Something similar happened to my wife a while back when she presented herself at the district office, thinking about applying for a sub position. Before she could say what position she was applying for or before anyone could ask her, she was handed a cafeteria worker application.
As we walked up to the wonderful box and scrumptious food and great company (anthropologists are great people), I was reminded of Ian Haney-Lopez’ specification that the legal recourse requires for establishing racial bias: malice. Malice has to be proved to be present, otherwise there is no racism. Nothing demonstrates the complete lack of understanding of how racism operates than that. It allows people to say, “Racists are Southern Whites in bib overalls with tobacco juice dribbling down their chins and using the N word and THAT’S not me.” Reality: it’s a lot of nice people making assumptions about other people..

Aug. 1, 2021 addendum

Here are terrific examples of the above offered when a Black female CEO of her own company took 9 Black female friends on a big girls’ night out flying first class. Her story of absurd White people’s behavior was vastly augmented on twitter by many other Black people and, of course, a White person who decided this just could not be true because he had never experienced it – no shit. One or two Whites offered their experiences of witnessing this sort of thing. BTW, the dissenter to all this carries the handle “Patriot.” That itself is worth a blog post on why so many decent people are shy of applying ‘patriot’ to ourselves since it now seems to equal Trumper or MAGA-man or Right Wing Fanatic or White Supremecist. We ARE patriots because we believe in the promise of America viz. that you don’t have to be a White Christian tracing his lineage back in this country 200 years or more to be an American.

One Comment

  1. Sandra Verbe says:

    Brief Personal preview & historical background even prior to my Applause on this Blog. The experience of your Wife, when applying for a new position, provoked me to a combination of sad & angry, for her, but also for me, living in a world that would do this.

    I have light color skin as you do, I spent my ‘formative’ yrs as they say in Detroit area, where 65% my Friends had Brown and Black skin. It was a welcome and wonderful 2 decades of my living experience. I feel fortunate for those years of ‘forming’ an Inclusive heart and mind. I need the foundation I acquired in and around detroit, now that I’ve lived in east tennessee for the past 32 years. And Why the Zoom Book Study I’ve been in for the past 3 months, has saved my sanity…. sharing with 7 people of like-mind, in varied cities around the country.

    It is the Book by Ibram X. Kendi “How to Be an Antiracist”. We’ve only reached chapter 8, as there is so much share and say and support and report about our feelings of the stunning brilliance of the Book in Ibram’s manner of writing. . .Bringing us into the pages.

    I am certainly Not incinuating that I would know how it is to be seen or treated as black, But I was influenced and touched by my Friends and Family of Color. and was present when things happened to them, AS YOU, PAT describe for yourSelf in this blog.

    wondering if you are familiar with Kendi’s book ? And I also just watched the first 1/2 of the documentary “13th” about . Previous to book study, I read the book “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson (because oval office occupant #45 brought the whole country Back into a more Overt Caste and racist system of governing. and watched the documentary “Price Among Slaves 1788 Abdul Rakman, W. Africa.

    If You happen to have Ibram Kendi’s book aroun – I’d like to Note Chapter on ‘Biology’ and specific page 50, where in tells of : (I insert paragraphs from book that I just put in an e-mail to a “PENship” person, we just write.

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Actual Scientists & applause accompanied the president of the US as he walked into the East Room on JUNE 26, 2000, in the middle of two screens featuring this headline:

    “Decoding the Book of Life / A Milestone for Humanity.”
    The decoding had begun 10 years earlier in 1990. After thanking the Scientists from around the World, Clinton harkened back 200 Years, to the day Thomas Jefferson “spread out a magnificent map” of the continental US, in this room, on this floor – Today the world is joining us here to behold a map of even greater significance. Here to celebrate the completion of the first survey of the Entire Human Genome. —
    (moving over some excellence to one of many summary lines)

    When Scientists finished drawing the map of “our miraculous genetic code” — that in genetic terms, All Human Beings, regardless of Race, ARE MORE than 99.9 % the SAME.
    The most important fact of life on this earth
    is OUR COMMONALITY, common humanity.

    (PAT & family – – how many of the population even heard this, let alone took it into their civic duty actions ? how many republicans have ever voted By their Oaths and This Scientific Truth, since this was completed in 2000 ?) how many close minds even consider this to be ”their” problem in the last 4 centuries)
    That’s my thots for Today – Look forward If any time or Inclination on your part, to hear back.

    Sandra Verbeke * Health Awareness Center – physiologist / vibrational & music medicine, certification in war and diagnosis trauma.

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