Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Post office ponderings

So I'm trying to back out of my parking space, when this guy in the car parked next to me starts getting out of his car. I wave him on, trying to let him know I'm not going to hit him.

Well, hit on is what he decided to do. Knock-knock on the window. WTF? Well, I thought, I didn't get a good look at him and maybe he's a post office employee I joke around with sometimes. Nope, he isn't that guy. He proceeds to tell me his name and asks mine. He goes through the following lines:

"Don't I know you from somewhere? I know I seen you working out at the YMCA."
"I know your face - of course I'd remember such a pretty face."

And then, as I'm trying to close the window and drive away, he asks: "Hey, you wanna have coffee sometime?" to which I reply, "thank you, but I have a boyfriend."

I don't think coffee was what he had on his mind. But perhaps I am making racial judgments. It just so happened this man was black. I did not turn him down based on that. Let's pretend I'm not in a relationship for a second. The fact that this guy was a complete stranger and used such corny and obvious pickup lines, combined with pretending to know me, made me distrust him.

It just occurred to me maybe I shouldn't assume he had any intentions other than getting to know each other. It is entirely possible the following scenario occurred from his perspective: He sees a chick in the parking lot of the post office, waving at him. He thinks she is kind of cute, so he decides why not say hi. Then she seems a little nervous, so he thinks maybe this is another sign she likes him? And he has probably seen the "don't I know you from somewhere" line work, so he tries that out. And as she's starting to drive away, he thinks "what if she really is interested and we never see each other again and I don't make a move?" so he asks me out for coffee. This would not be such an unusual scenario, would it?

But I did not get that feeling from him. I felt creepy and wanted to shrivel up and run away. Would I have felt that way if he was white? I don't know. Probably, but I may have also assumed it was like in the "imaginary" scenario above and been flattered. How come it took me over an hour to even consider that scenario, and would I have thought of it sooner if he was white?

I am not a racist person, but most of us that do not consider ourselves racist still have the occassional reaction based on our conditioning. Still, I don't think I am less likely to trust a black man than a white man. If I am stopped at a light and see a male pedestrian on the sidewalk, I check the locks. It doesn't matter what color he is, the fact he is MALE makes me more likely to fear him. And I don't think all men are wild beasts who attack, but generally it is men who do such things, and as a woman in today's world, I am aware of that constantly. And I am aware from personal experience that a violation can happen with someone you know or are getting to know, with that person being of your own skin color. In fact, this is more likely to be the case. Still, I do not believe there wasn't some part of me who made assumptions about the intentions of the man at the post office because he was black.

We have been discussing racism a lot in one of my classes. As a result, we are really all trying to be aware of our subconcious racist thoughts and inadvertent racist actions and words. Whether we like it or not, we still make judgments about people based on skin color, as well as age, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. While discrimination is less obvious and things have improved greatly from a century ago (heck, even from 40-50 years ago), is it possible to ever banish racism from our lives?


Blogger Diva Kitty's Mom said...

You must rent Crash.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Jhena said...

His color doesn't really matter,i guess, considering the way he talked to you. We call that attitude here in our country as "feeling close." Though some people think of this as a mere sign of friendliness, still many others will just back off from that person "feeling close." Coz sometimes, it's just so irritating.

4:16 AM  
Blogger Puggyspice said...

Diva Kitty's Mom, thanks for that recommendation. Someone in class suggested that same movie last week, that we watch it in class. I don't think we are going to but I plan to rent it at home when there is time. Hmmm, maybe tomorrow night.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Puggyspice said...

Jhena, yes, "feeling close" sounds like a good description of this guy's approach. It was as if he wanted to act like we were closer than we actually were (since we were complete strangers). Yick!

10:22 PM  

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