"There are notes between notes, you know." -- Sarah Vaughan

Monday, July 27, 2009

"And it's deep, too!" -- Richard Pryor

Last week when I first heard the Gatesgate story, I didn't automatically think "racism." As I've heard more and more of the details, I still feel like my first instinct was correct. My thought was, "OK two men playing the 'who has the biggest member' game" a la this Richard Pryor joke (I'm remembering this cause I couldn't find a link to it via the Web so I might not have it exactly right. My version is also cleaner than RP's).
Two men are walking along discussing who has the biggest member. They get to a bridge and one of the men has to pee. He pulls his business out to pee in the water, so the other man does, too. Man one says, "Damn, this water sure is cold!" Man two says, "And it's deep, too!"
I talked to my parents about Gatesgate and they are convinced racism played some role in the incident.

And just based on the differing views between my parents and myself, I can understand how Gatesgate might have happened: perception is reality for most folks.

My parents grew up down South during the Jim Crow era. They have dealt with racism and discrimination firsthand. I have not. Have I somehow been affected by covert racism or subtle racism? Possibly. But I don't live my life looking for the racism in a situation so I'm guessing it pretty much goes over my head.

Here's an example of the perception/reality thing. At a previous place of employment, a black coworker decided a white coworker was racist because she didn't say hello/good morning.

Now, as I have noted in the past, I am not a "good morning" type chick. When I suggested that maybe that coworker wasn't a morning person either, the other coworker insisted it was racism and listed various reasons why. OK. That was her perception based on her experiences. My perception as an evil wench who *hates* to greet people in the a.m. before I put my purse down, get some coffee and generally settle in, was not the same.

Back to my parents. Based on their experiences, they are more sensitive to perceived racism. I suspect Mr. Gates' experiences have also made him more sensitive to perceived racism and his perceptions and experiences are what he brought to the incident that has led to all this drama.

I think this article is a good summary of the situation. Give it a read.

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Use your inside voice ... or I'll put you outside. -- SingLikeSassy