“Favorite” racist experiences

I didn’t get to blog nearly as much as I wanted to for International Blog Against Racism Week, but in honor of the last day of IBARW4, I thought it would be appropriate to roundup a few stories of racist experiences:

I’ll start old school with a story that my neighbor told me about her aunt, who was shopping in downtown McAllen, TX with her two children; this probably happened in the late 50s/early 60s.  The kids started fussing and misbehaving in public, so their mom began scolding them.

A white woman stepped in, yanked the two children away, and began screaming at the mother: How dare she speak to the children that way?  Where was their mother?  Their mother needed to know that the maid was yelling at the poor kids this way.  She should be fired!

My neighbor’s aunt, you see, is a dark-skinned Mexican.  Her children are light-skinned Mexicans.  The white woman saw a brown-skinned person yelling at white-skinned children and took it upon herself to set the brown person straight.  But uh-oh: those really were her children.

Naturally, the children’s mother completely flipped out on the white lady.  The police came, the situation was explained, the kids obviously told everyone that that was their mother, and the incident was settled.  What a lesson to learn as a kid, eh?

A story from little sister,”Too Saxy:”

My junior year of high school, I was on the school’s debate team. One tournament we had was about 5 hours from home in Round Rock, TX. Unfortunately, I had a fever and dropped out of the debate competition. Luckily, our school got there with enough time to reserve a table. There were so many people that were squashed in the cafeteria. Because I was sick, my only duty was to stay at the table and watch everyone’s belongings.

Some schools were sitting on the floor without a problem, or just walked about the campus. A group of white girls, about my age, got up from the floor and came to my table. While I had no problem temporarily sharing the table, they didn’t even ask. They just sat there and pushed my team’s stuff aside. I told them that they could sit there just until my team returned. They just looked at me funny and ignored me. I moved the stuff back to where it was and put my head back down on the table. I had a terrible headache.

I guess they assumed that I had fallen asleep, but I was still awake. I heard one them call me a “dirty Mexican.” I looked up to see who had said that. Most of the girls seemed shocked. It was apparent who had said it. There was only one girl looking directly at me. I felt too sick to bother with her. I just looked at her and put my head back down (while wanting to kick her off my team’s table on the inside).

Their debate coach showed up and started moving all of my team’s belongings. She was a much older white woman. She acted as though this was their table and completely blew me off. I told her that my team would be returning soon and they’d have to leave. She gave me this disgusted face and told me that I would just have to deal with it. I was shocked at the fact that I moved some of the stuff back and she pushed it away again. She started conducting her debate meeting while giving me dirty looks the whole time; as if I had invaded her space.

When my team returned, they reluctantly moved. A few girls stayed sitting down and the coach continued to shoot dirty looks at my directing. Some of the members on my team commented on some of the racist remarks they heard on and off that day from other participants.

And lastly, my own favorite racist experience:

I took a film class in undergrad that required the students to do a huge group project. We were all randomly assigned group members, and I ended up with a pretty great team, save for two boneheaded guys who would crack sexist jokes about how hot the professor was, etc. Still, they were willing to do their share of the work, so no one had any major complaints.

Our final presentation was a success, so we all went out for drinks afterward. We were having a great time and getting to know each other outside of an academic setting. Then Bonehead #1 asks where I’m originally from.

I tell him, and his eyes light up. He begins to regale the group about a hot stripper he met in south Texas (where I’m from). He went on and on about her beautiful white skin and perfect nude body, and apparently she ended up going home with him. She was his dream.

Then she told him her last name. Game over. She was a Mexican.

His speech then shifted into a tirade about how big of a blow this was: don’t worry, he had nothing against Mexicans, but there was no way in the world he could fuck one, you know? Because come on, obviously. He was white. He wouldn’t be caught dead fucking a Mexican, even if she was white-skinned. They wouldn’t mix. And it was just soooo crushing, you know? Because she was so hot and so ready for him, but there was no way in hell he could touch her now. And hahaha, she was so offended and called him an asshole. Isn’t that funny? But don’t worry, he wasn’t a racist or anything. He liked Mexicans, you know?  They’re just nasty and dirty and beneath him, is all.

At this point, even Bonehead #2 sat in stunned silence.

Everyone in the group was dead quiet (and white), and looking nervously at me and the other Mexican guy. The whole time, Bonehead #1 Racist sat happily downing his beer and smiling at me as he told his story about how fucking gross Mexicans—even white Mexicans—were.

I’m sorry to say I didn’t say anything, especially since Racist was looking at me through most of his story. In fact, I think I even nodded numbly when he directed one of his “you knows” at me. No one in the group said anything; we all went home soon after.

Looking back, I could kick myself for not having said anything to him, and for nodding(!) at him. Were it to happen now, I’d rip him a new one. But that was the first time anyone had ever said bluntly racist, anti-Mexican shit to my face. My brain just completely shut down on that one.

Feel free to share your “favorite” racist experience(s) in the comments.


About Melissa

I love donuts. Chocolate iced, hold the sprinkles.
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2 Responses to “Favorite” racist experiences

  1. Lauren O says:

    I look white and identify as white, but my maternal grandmother is a Brazilian immigrant.

    When my dad’s parents found out their new daughter-in-law was half Brazilian, they actually said to her face, “Hmm…you know, when I think of Brazilians, I just think of little pygmies running around in the jungle!” (These are the same Mississippian grandparents who refer to Brazil nuts as “nigger toes,” so this is actually far from the worst racist thing they’ve said.)

    A couple years ago, my family was having dinner with the family of one of my dad’s coworkers. Somehow Brazil came up in conversation, and my mom mentioned that she was Brazilian. She used a sentence like, “I have several cousins who live there,” and my dad’s coworker responded, “How many of them are married to each other?”

    Things like that always seem so shocking to me, since I normally have the white privilege of not having to deal with racist epithets.

  2. Thank you for a compelling and honest post. I’m here by way of Feministe, btw. It isn’t easy to write about such experiences. I know for me, they call up pain I thought had been stuffed down decades before. But, there is always something that triggers the memory, and, subsequently brings back the pain as if it were truly yesterday.

    A ‘favorite’ racist story? When my 10th grade civics teacher made a racist comment re: my bandana headscarf. He called me, ‘Aunt Jemima’, which naturally got a chuckle from several class members. When class ended, I told the teacher that I didn’t appreciate his comment. It was ignorant and inappropriate, especially from a teacher. I don’t recall if he actually apologized or not, but said something to the effect of, I didn’t mean to offend you,” which people of color know to mean, “You’re too stupid to understand what I was really trying to say.”

    I appreciate having been introduced to your blog. 🙂

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