I originally posted this in my LJ, but I thought it might get a wider discussion here.
It’s never going to end, is it?
Last night I went out to the local bar for a beer or two. It’s a place I frequent to get some “me” time. I am not really into the bar scene, but I am something of a regular. I’m the weird guy who sits down the end of the bar and keeps to himself. I am likely to be quietly reading a book or watching the Os on TV, keeping to myself while drinking a Rolling Rock or two. I am certainly not anti-social, but when I go out it’s to unwind, to just relax and be myself, by myself. I have little interest in impressing people with how much I can drink or how boisterous or tough I am, as I said, it’s “me” time.
I was talking to another of the regulars; I’ll call him “Bill”, mainly because it’s his name. I’ve talked to Bill a bit before, and if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say he likes me. Certainly I have found him to be congenial before. He’s starting his own business, and I like to think I’ve given him a tip or two, because that’s what I do for work, I help small businesses.
Anyway, someone who was drunk loudly talked about “shooting poolies”, referring to pool, of course. It was picked up by the bar and bandied back and forth with amusement. I joked to the guy down the bar “I love Poolie season. Me and my buddies, we take a couple of coolers full of beer and some rifles and have a good time.” He responded “Yea, it’s like shooting niggers up against a wall. It doesn’t count if you hit them below the waist.”
I have no idea what he meant by that last part, but Bill bantered back with him. For me, it was like being doused with a bucket of cold water. I immediately withdrew from the conversation and picked up my book and started reading again. I noticed that Bill didn’t come out with anything like the other guy had said, but he conversed in general terms about hunting with the other guy. At one point he turned aside to me and said “Jesus, I’m talking about shooting niggers” to me under his breath. The impression I got was that he knew it was wrong, but had been sucked in by the conversation.
I am so sick of this shit. I realize that drinking in a Dundalk bar is not the place to find enlightened attitudes, but I am so sick of the fact that just because I am white, racist people assume that I will share their views. I am sick of the fact that racism, while still not a spot on what it was 30 or 40 years ago, has learned to go underground and only rears it’s ugly head in circumstances it thinks are “safe” (because we’re all white here, doncha know?)
Do I think it’s better than it was before? Yes, absolutely. My parents raised me to be color blind and I am teaching my son the same thing, and I’ll teach my unborn child that way as well. Those attitudes are growing, and will continue to grow with each generation. The next generation, and the next after that, and the one following, they will all find this kind of prejudice more and more foreign to their experiences. Good for them. I am disgusted because it’s not that way now. It’s like someone denying that gravity makes things fall. It’s stupid and it’s WRONG.
Actually, I don’t think we humans will ever escape it entirely. It is my fervent belief that one day, it will be confined to the types of people who today belong to the Flat Earth Society. You know, lunatics. Meanwhile, I will seethe and nash my teeth at the stupid, ignorant, IDIOTS with whom I have to share this Earth.
What could I have done? Challenged him on it? I don’t think so, that would have only lead to a fight and wouldn’t have changed his mind a wit. It was a classic damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation. I chose don’t, and have to deal with my bitterness and cowardice here on the SDMB. I honestly can’t think of a single thing I could have accomplished if I had been vocal to a drunk racist, and I am somehow ashamed of that fact. It gets even more ridiculous when you consider what happened at the end of the night. I was coming out of the bathroom, and Racist Asshole was going in. The song playing on the jukebox was “Sweet Home Alabama”. He was singing along with the song under his breath. As I passed him he happily sang “Does your conscience bother you?” The irony almost made me physically sick.
Life In These United States: 2004. We have along way to go, don’t we?