Have You Ever Been Mistaken for "The Help"?

Apparently the Obamas have, and they believe it’s because of their race. I’m not sure. I’ve never been mistaken for a valet specifically (& that specifically is probably more common of blacks), but many times over the years people have assumed (or seemed to have assumed) I worked in various establishments in which I was shopping.

And if you interpret any request for help (e.g. asking someone to get something down from a shelf, as in the case of Michelle Obama) as an assumption of employment at the store, then it would be a lot more.

Anyone else have experience with this type of thing?

I’m a 6’5" white guy, and I get mistaken for a store employee fairly often. My fondness for polo shirts and khakis may explain it, however.

Kind of the opposite, I would be sitting at my desk and a salesman would come in and say " Is anybody here?" I was running a truck repair shop and usually covered in grease.

I don’t think I have. But I don’t doubt the veracity of Obama’s experiences. The one Michelle brought up might be a bit iffy, but I bet she has other, better examples.

The First Lady’s experience is open to interpretation - with glasses on and security out of sight around the corner I may not have recognized her myself. But I wouldn’t be surprised if someone sniggered to themselves that they would get the chance to play dumb and do the valet thing to the President “by mistake”. I mean, it has to be a medium to high end establishment to have valet parking and I can only imagine President Obama would be standing barefaced and in a nice suit, waiting for his car, surrounded by other men in suits looking very serious…and I’m supposed to believe the jackoff handing his keys to the President couldn’t figure out that he’s more important than a simple valet? You’d have to be REALLY self-absorbed.

I can’t get direct confirmation but I do have my suspicions that I have been subject to the opposite sometimes, i.e. “Oh, you’re a woman. You must not be the designer as that’s too technical for women. Let me speak to the male designer.” in not so direct words.

You’re kidding right? Black people being confused for “the help” because of their skin color, and you doubt it? Because you’ve been asked for help a few times?

The pit.

A bit of confusion here.

Barack Obama did not claim that any of this happened to him as President. Michelle Obama said one incident happened to her as First Lady.

Yep, I’ve been asked questions at Best Buy and Target. Wasn’t even wearing the uniform…

A friend of mine (black) was living in Colorado Springs. Her neighbor (white) had asked her over for tea. My friend headed over (it was snowing) and knocked on the neighbor’s door. The neighbor’s daughter (who KNEW MY FRIEND) opened the door, said “Sorry, we don’t need our sidewalk shoveled today,” and closed the door.

One of many reasons why my friend doesn’t live in Colorado Springs any more.

Direct from the article:

I suppose he didn’t specify if it happened during his presidency so…my mistake for assuming. Perhaps it happened before he became President.

This summer I crossed Lake Michigan on the Lake Express car ferry. I was traveling by motorcycle, and so I was wearing a fluorescent riding jacket and black overpants. As I sat on the sun deck during departure, another passenger asked me about how far out on the lake he could expect to have cell phone reception. I gave him my best guess based on past experiences, and then he asked me about whether the boat usually departs on time. I said “I don’t know…I guess…”. The casualness of my answer made him suddenly realize that I was not a crew member on the boat, I was just another passenger like him. Not sure why he would make a mistake like that. The real crew members were all dressed in navy blue, were wearing orange life vests, and were all very busy going about their duties, not slouching on a deck chair.

I was in a hotel lobby in military dress blues and had someone start asking me for directions.

I couldn’t believe it - like someone from Appalachia would know where to find a good restaurant…

In a delicious turn, I knew a guy who I didn’t respect who once had to work on a weekend. He pulled his car up to the garage where he usually parked, handed his keys to a (black) guy standing there, and went in.

Of course, the guy didn’t work at the parking garage, which was closed, and when he returned from his office, the car was nowhere around. :smiley:

So the fuck what? These are supposed to be valid examples of racism? I guess if you spend a lot of time thinking about it and looking through that filter. To a hammer, everything looks like a friggin’ nail.

I was asked if I was a valet a couple of years ago while waiting at an unmanned valet stand. I guess I was the victim of racial profiling (I’m white). And I’ve been asked if i worked in numerous stores as I walk up and down the aisles dressed in a dress shirt and tie. Again, I didn’t know I was supposed to be offended and feel victimized. As for Michelle being asked to get something down from a shelf, maybe it’s because she is way taller than most women and many men. Oh no, can’t be that. It must be because she’s black.

What a couple of miserable people.

Right black people! Since this white person has never been offended at being mistaken for a valet, that means that you are miserable if you talk about being mistaken for various menial workers. Your experiences don’t matter, black people – and if you complain about your experiences, whatever they are, you are miserable.

Yes, I would say you are miserable if you take offense at being mistaken for a lowly valet or store clerk. Whether you blame it on racism or not, you are still miserable. So that point is established. But my other point is that it happens to white people, too. So where is the racism, other than in the minds of the miserable president and his wife?

I am non-white and non-black. When my blonde-haired blue-eyed pale-skinned daughter was a baby, I was very often mistaken for her nanny, I guess because I looked young and had dark hair. I’m not sure it was racism exactly, beyond them thinking we looked dissimilar and thus couldn’t be related.
I am occasionally mistaken for a Target or Lowe’s employee, but I just direct people to the correct aisle or answer their questions anyway. At some point they realize their mistake and are embarrassed.

I was reasonably well dressed, waiting for someone while standing in the gift shop at a glass factory among the cut crystal. I suppose because I was standing there, not dressed in tourist garb, with my arms clasped behind me, obviously not looking at the stuff for sale, that people kept coming up to me and asking where things were. I had to tell them I wasn’t a store employee.

I went to Cedar Point in Ohio once about ten years ago, and I was mistaken for a park employee multiple times during my stay because, by pure coincidence, my windbreaker was the exact same shade of blue that the employees were all wearing.

I frequently get mistaken for the staff at my local used bookstore. I’m a librarian, helping people find books is just instinctual. The actual staff refers to me as their “volunteer.”

If it happens much more often to black people, then at least some of the mistakes are due to racism, even if it’s a relatively harmless form. If you see a black guy on the street next to a parking lot and are more likely to assume he’s a valet because he’s black, then that’s a (very minorly) racist assumption.

Not a huge deal, but there’s no reason to dismiss it either.