You’ve all seen this before: an in-group culture that celebrates itself with joking insults, that denigrates the outgroups with insults which they pretend to be mere manly rough-and-tumble play. It’s the locker room grown up and metastasizing in the board room. Try to picture being one of the targets, being told to lighten up and take persistent racism as just joshin’ around.
“Let me tell you, it’s ok to make jokes about slavery because that’s over.”
Yeah, receiving that felt like a bolt of energy striking the center of my head and slicing my body in two.
“Are you a slave? Is anyone you know a slave? No, so jokes are fine because that’s in the past.”
I almost begin to cite the multitude of ways slavery still exists, from the lingering effects of institutional racism to the real life plantations we commonly know today as prisons, but I reel myself in quickly. This is in essence the trauma SF [San Francisco] has given me, that ran me out: white men always telling which way is up because they feel they are the “authority” when it comes to any and everything, most often when they don’t know shit about shit except how to protect their privilege by telling me my life experience is false.
“Also, you should be grateful that your ancestors went through slavery.”
“Because that’s a lot worse than anything that’s happening now.”
“So you should be grateful that your ancestor went through that to get you here where you are today at this company.”
Goddess, please restrain me from jumping out this chair and kicking him in his giant red neck.
I go back to the image of my split body and imagine a swarm of tiny demons flocking from the halved flesh and descending upon him; flaming eyes and five rows of shark teeth parting open to reveal mouths filled with the trauma of millions of black memories of rapes, lynchings, torture, experiments, castrations, disfigurements, poisonings, false charges, divestment, profiling, appropriation, theft, murders: memories of genocide.
“And I’m from the south, so believe me, I know what racism is like.”
Well of course, thanks for brining it all the way here into this conversation.
“And, well, I know people say you don’t know about something until you walk a mile in their shoes, but I can tell you again there’s no racism here.”