I live in New York City so you would think that I am generally surrounded by enlightened, open-minded people. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and the experience that I had today reminded me that ignorance and racism are still alive and well in our society.
Let me just give you a little background…I am a light skinned, light eyed Latina and my husband is Latino and he has brown skin. We are very proud and diverse people who are raising our children to be as color blind as possible in a society that is hung up on race and socioeconomic status. Our children are mixed as I am Spanish, Italian, Irish, and English and my husband is Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Jamaican. As parents, we work very hard to instill a sense of pride in our children and we celebrate their diversity and the diversity of others whenever the opportunity lends itself.
This brings us to today…I was sitting in the park with my husband and another couple whom we have been friends with for awhile. A lady, whom I just met at the park a couple of days ago through a mutual friend, came over to say “hello.” We will call her “Lady X” to protect her identity. Naturally, I introduced her to my friends and to my husband. After shaking my husband’s hand she proceeded to tell him that he reminded her of the African American entertainer, Babyface. She then proceeded to compare his looks to every possible entertainer of color that you could possibly imagine, including P Diddy. You sort of got the sense that she really does not differentiate between different people of color and pretty much thinks they all look the same because we all know Babyface and PDiddy are like night and day in the looks department.
Now you might be asking yourself what this woman’s race or nationality is and I am going to say that her race is not as important as her ignorance and obvious lack of class and education but, yes, she is Caucasian. This leads me to the climax of her faux pas. When she finally stated that maybe he looked like PDiddy, my husband responded by saying, “No, I definitely don’t think I look like him and he is darker skinned than I am.” Without missing a beat, she replies, “as if your skin could possibly get any darker.” You could hear a pin drop at that moment due to the silence. I think we were all in shock that she had the audacity to say such a thing without realizing what a blatantly racist comment that is. My husband just looked at her in a pathetic way and didn’t even address it.
Later on, when we were driving home, I asked him why he didn’t say anything to her to put her in her place. He explained to me that he has experienced enough racism in his life, being a person of color, to know that arguing with her would not have done any good or changed her mind. He further explained that the sad part was that she did not even realize that she had said anything wrong or offensive because the bigotry was so ingrained into who she was. This made a lot of sense to me and really soothed my anger. However, it reiterated for me the continued existence of bigotry and racism even during a time when we finally have an African American President and even in a supposedly modern city like New York. It kind of makes me wonder how many others are still being exposed to the ugliness of discrimination…

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  1. I am a nurse and I work with older patients. Pretty often I come across patient who actually refer to African Americans are "colored" and make other racist statements. (I should mention I live in the deep south). The mind-boggling part is these people have no idea that there comments are inappropriate. I never address it. I don't know if they would be a point when the comment is coming from a 70 or 80 year old person, but it does bother me. I am also married with 3 small kids, working full-time. See my blog.


  2. Hi, there. You would think that by the time they get to be that age, they would know better about being more politically correct. I teach Middle School reading and I am constantly reminding my students to think about other people's feelings when they make offensive comments about their nationality or race. As a rule, those comments are strictly banned in my class. So, you have 3 kids? You are a better woman than me because I am truly exhausted with just my two and working full time. Thanks for stopping by. I will definitely be keeping up with your blog too.

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