It's not always about being funny.

Nigger

“Adam, you wouldn’t seriously want a black guy to be our President, would you?”

That’s an actual quote from one of my uncles a few weeks ago. The thing is, I didn’t grow up in an explicitly racist household. My parents had an interracial couple as some of their best friends, and my mother worked quite closely with plenty of black employees, both at her level and below her on the chain of command. But there was an undercurrent of prejudice that was constant and unwavering.

I never heard the word “nigger” from my parents. I was, however, told to be careful when driving in bad neighborhoods because “they” like to drive into you in a beat-up car and then sue the insurance company. “They” was never explained, but merely understood.

My first girlfriend, Vickie, had olive skin that I thought was gorgeous. Over at my friend Randy’s house, showing her picture to his grandfather proudly, I was mortified when he and his son started mocking me for dating a “sand nigger”. I didn’t even know what that was, but I knew it wasn’t something nice.

As a teen, I spent my summers and vacations working for a business owned by family members other than my parents. It was there that I heard “nigger” bandied about regularly, even from relatives who worked closely with many black friends. “You can’t trust them.” “You have to watch them like a hawk or they’ll rip you off.” “They’re lazy and will do the work half-assed if you’re not careful.” I was taught these “lessons”, along with phrases like “nigger-rig” and “nigger rich”.

Yet, with all of this subtle and overt prejudice affecting my perspective, education, and growth, I still managed to be objective and come to my own conclusions. I’ll never forget Nicole, with her great smile and gorgeous chocolate skin, holding hands as we walked down the beach that summer. And Angela, with that beautiful curly hair and intoxicating laugh. And friends who were African and Indian and Asian and Filipino and black and Jewish and Hispanic and the only thing that mattered to me was whether or not we got along.

I’m not writing this post to pat myself on the back – yay me for not being racist! No, my goal is to give a bit of hope. My parents’ generation grew up with the civil rights movement. They had to change their perspective on race and prejudice during their formative years. I can’t blame them for being affected by their environment and upbringing just as I was affected. However, I, and my generation, and the generation after mine, and even the one before mine, grew up with an integrated society. And maybe, just maybe, it’s possible for us to become increasingly color-blind, even if raised in a color-aware environment.

If Obama gets this nomination, and I’m sure that he will, I hope that there are enough of us out there – generations of young adults who grew up in an integrated society and know that racism doesn’t even make sense. I hope that we are legion enough to make a difference in November. To show my uncle and those like him that yes, we seriously want a black guy to be our President, because we want a “smart” guy to be our President, and it doesn’t actually matter if he’s black, white, yellow, brown, or not even a guy at all.

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127 Replies to “Nigger”

  1. martymankins

    Great post. And I’m in full agreement… it shouldn’t matter the race or skin color of who’s running. What matters is we get the fuckin’ cowlick that’s in there now from fucking anything else up and get someone smart that knows what the hell they are doing to straighten out the last 7 years.

    You know.. I’m just sayin’

  2. Dave2

    What’s interesting here is that you have something important to say, and yet it’s going to be greatly overshadowed by the inevitable reaction to your choice of entry titles (which I’m assuming was selected solely for shock value, as there really isn’t any other reason to use that word for that purpose).

    Personally, I remain more hopeful that the future is not so much one of colorblindness, but color acceptance. A person’s race is a big part of who they are, it just shouldn’t be looked upon as ALL of who they are.

  3. Tori

    My best friend from college dated a black man and was told by her family that her father would not only disown her if he found out… but probably would keel over of a broken heart… so she kept it a secret and finally decided she “couldn’t do it any longer”…

    Now she’s a lesbian… and has to keep that a secret because that’s even worse (in his eyes) than her dating outside her race.

    I always think bigot’s are “paid back” in ways like this… he didn’t want a daughter who dated black men, and he ended up with one who fucks women…

    karma…

  4. Maman

    Holy hell. That was profound.

    I loved it when my girls went to a French school in Chicago. Yes, I heard all the jokes about how pretensious it was, but there was something that they learned (other than French that is). That was nice people who cared about their children enough to pay Lycee fees existed in all creeds and colors. The teachers were from all over the world as well, Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Vietnam, Montpelier (not Vermont).

    In fact, it was the Vietamese teacher who was the first person that I encounter at school after the September 11th bombings. She understood why I was so upset, but knew I had to pull myself together for my girls. Because she had seen horrible things too.

    These men and women taught my children to be be colorblind in a way I never could and I love them for it. Since everyone was from someplace else it was the perfect environment.

    Barack Obama was a neighborhood activist in the neighborhood in which I went to college. I have followed his career for 25 years. There is no one that I have ever seen who can deal with the bullshit that occurs in Chicago which has always had its race issues as well national issues.

    I have his sign in my window and his bumpersticker on my car (and my husband HATES bumperstickers… he knew it was pointless to argue)

    As far as I am concerned. He is the embodiment of the American Dream. Go Barack!

  5. Jay

    My family is basically split into “racists” and “not racists.” And the people who are racists are the ones that never went to college and never left this area for any long period of time. The rest of us, who have college degrees and have traveled and lived in other areas of the country at different times, don’t have those same racists beliefs. I know that there are exceptions to this among people all over, but in my family it hold pretty true.

    The generational thing holds trued too. The younger generations grew up in integrated schools and had a much different experience with different races than our parents did.

  6. That Bitchy Chick

    Unfortunately, my life is full of being the victim of prejudices. My ex-husband…a black man. My most recent 5 year relationship…with a black man. My niece and twin nephews…half white, half black. I’ve been called a “disgrace to my race” on many occasions. I just chalk it up to people being imbeciles. It’s sad that in the year 2008 there are still individuals who judge a person by the colour of their skin or worst yet, judge a person because of the colour of the skin of those they associate with or even have chosen to love. I’m not certain who I’ll be voting for yet BUT, my decision to vote most definitely will NOT be based on the candidates ethnic persuasion. Hopefully others will vote politically minded and not racially blinded! I loved this post and I’m glad you wrote it!

  7. Honeybell

    God knows I’d rather slit my own throat than see . . . . let’s say . . . Jesse Jackson in the white house. But Obama? Day-um! A politician I can believe in (for the first time) PLUS he can be an inspiring role model for young black America? That’s just gravy.

    BTW-I adored him, but my father was a racist bastard. He at least had the decency to teach me differently, and MY kids are totally colorblind. I definitely think racism is worn away, bit by bit, with each generation.

  8. Little Miss Sunshine State

    Ugh, my husband’s family is deep-fried Southern racist and my mother keeps asking why we like “that colored man”.

    Maybe it was their generation..pre-Civil Rights 1940’s and 50’s. Maybe because my generation, Children of the 60’s had a chance to go more places and meet people our parents didn’t have a chance to meet.
    I’m glad there is a chance for our next President to be someone other than a white male.

  9. Special K

    This primary has brought out the worst in some people I’m aquainted with and related to.
    We claim to be the best country, the land of the free, and wonderland of opportunity – yet many of those who spout those very phrases spew hate and predjudice like it’s a religion.
    I too hope we can change.

  10. Kat

    Very well, and very honestly written.
    I totally agree with you.
    I’m glad my teens are growing up right now, this, what is happening right now is pretty fucking amazing isn’t it?
    A woman AND a black man running for president.
    I honestly never thought I’d see the day, but here it is and my teens are witnessing a major historic moment no matter who gets the nomination.

  11. Shelli

    Bravo, Adam. I also second Dave because I would like to see us accept other races, religions, cultures so that we can learn from each other.

    When I was a little girl, living in Minneapolis, my mother warned me about the garbage man because he was “colored”. I always wanted to see him to see what color he was. Was he blue? Was he green? I had never seen a “colored” person before.

  12. Dan

    I was shocked when my mother (a social worker) who had never expressed a racist comment before as far as am awair went absolutely batshit when my sister was talking about marrying a black man. She told her she would be too ashamed to walk down the street with a mixed race grandchild.

    Sometimes these things are hidden deep.

  13. Girl, Dislocated

    Yeah, I’ve been called a “sand nigger” before.

    Your racist extended family reminds me of my entire immediate and extended family. My siblings and I are probably the only non-racists in our entire family. In our younger years, we had hope of enlightening them. Now, we just mock them.

    I like to think racism will be phased out of our society, but I doubt it’s something we’ll see in our lifetime.

  14. Winter

    I remember hearing stories when I was little about prejudice against women. In my mother’s family (poor Irish, working in the lumber industry in WA), the women were mostly strong and opinionated. Unheard of for their time. My mother always likened that prejudice to how blacks and others of color were treated. My mother never saw color as any kind of barrier. She married a Filipino. She didn’t see being a woman as a barrier either. She made herself heard in every way that she could in her lifetime. She made a difference. To me. Mama would have loved that we have a woman and a black man vying for the Democratic nomination. It’s the kind of thing she always told me would happen one day. I wish she was here to see it.

  15. Penelope

    This was very well written Adam, and I really hope you’re right. What happens on your side of the Pond has such a deep impact on what goes on over here.
    A lot of Brits, (and I can’t say I speak for all, obviously) do wonder if America is ready for a black president though. Let’s damn well hope they are!

  16. Mr. Fabulous

    I’m pretty sure it’s the Mexicans who pull that insurance scam with the beat up car.

    But seriously, excellent post, man. You summed it up beautifully. Pretty impressive, for a guy who bastardizes Mary Worth.

  17. Miss Britt

    “Personally, I remain more hopeful that the future is not so much one of colorblindness, but color acceptance. A person’s race is a big part of who they are, it just shouldn’t be looked upon as ALL of who they are.”

    Ditto.

  18. RW

    Adam – just a note – when you have guest bloggers they should sign their own name on what they write. I’d like to put this guy on my blogroll but I have no idea what his URL is.

    Other than that, when does the necrophilia start up again?

  19. Avitable

    Marty, if we even have a chance to turn everything around, that is.

    Sybil, prejudice is the word you’re looking for. And happy birthday!

    Dave, actually, my reasoning was that I was going to use that word in my post a few times and would rather get the shock of it out of the way with the title. And I don’t think the comments have been overshadowed by that at all, do you? I agree with you about color acceptance, except that I think many people still start out with the race when they describe someone. And someone who’s black doesn’t necessarily always have any cultural differences from someone who’s white.

    Tori, I have a family member who’s like your friend, too.

    Amanda, I know – it seems like such a simple idea.

    Maman, that’s outstanding!

    Jay, I definitely think that exposure to other locations and other people broadens perspectives.

    Sizzle, same here.

    Bitchy Chick, it is very sad that you’ve experienced that.

    Honeybell, well, we already have one ‘tard in the White House. Jesse Jackson would be even worse – he’s an instigator and a finger pointer.

    LMSS, my great grandfather used to say “darkie”. I didn’t even try to correct him – he was from a completely different generation.

    Special K, unfortunately, it’s brought out the worst in even the candidates themselves, too.

    Maria, I don’t think it will happen with everyone, ever. But maybe the tide will continue to turn towards acceptance and colorblindness.

    AmyD, well, I am a genius after all.

    Kat, that is true – it will be a historic election that will hopefully pave the way for more opportunity for everyone.

    Shelli, I saw a green guy once, but I think it was body paint.

    Dan, wow. I thought the UK was much more accepting of blacks and mixed-race couples, too.

    Girl, Dislocated, I don’t think it will ever be completely phased out, but you and your sister are good examples of people who haven’t carried on their parents’ prejudices.

    Winter, I think sexual discrimination is its own ball of wax, too. For both, however, this election could be revolutionary.

    Penelope, if Obama became President, and my family insisted on racial slurs for him during that period, I’m not sure how I would react – whether I’d just stay away from them or try to educate them.

    Fab, well, Mary Worth was a racist – everybody knows that.

    Britt, a person’s background and culture is a huge part of who they are. The color of their skin does not always mean that they have anything different than someone with a different color.

    RW, thanks.

    Bubblewench, you’re definitely not crazy!

  20. ADW

    So we go from Anal Sex to a Race discussion. It’s OK, because I am somehow able to follow a small portion of your thought processes..

    BUT. You sir, are a liar.

    There is no way in the world, that you can make us believe…

    that

    you

    really dated those hot chicks.

    There.

    I said it.

  21. NYCWD

    While I agree with pretty much everything you said, the truth is that racism lives on in today’s generation through the continuation of stereotypes. Where we differ from our parent’s parents is that we are more likely to stereotype someone not based on the color of their skin, but on their economic disposition. While this provides the hope that color no longer matters, there are still other things that do.

    Overcoming those stereotypical dividing barriers is the responsibility of our generation… and I hope we get someone smart enough to do that.

  22. PocketCT

    Nicely put!

    I got to watch all the Theater 100 final plays for a coworker and be an independent judge of them a few years ago. The students had to do a fairy tale revamp. It was a pretty fun couple of hours. One thing I noticed however, in all the three little pig plays (and there were several) the wolf was always the black man in the group. None of the students were the least bit aware that they did that. The conscious or spoken part of racism is going to be an easier thing to lick than the deeper embedded roles we follow.

  23. whall

    I definitely fall into the category of folks who could not care less about a candidate’s skin color.

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who care very much about skin color, and that goes both ways. I wouldn’t be surprised at all that if for every anti-black racist who would never vote for a black person regardless of their merits, that there was another kind of racist who would _only_ vote for a black person — regardless of their merits.

    What bothers me about Obama is his stance on the 2nd amendment, and I’m not talking about what he claims now, but his horrendous voting record in Illinois as a Senator (and before that), and his board of directors position on the rabid anti-gun Joyce foundation.

    I could probably “give” on some typically polarizing issues such as social programs, taxation, healthcare, etc, but I have absolutely no give or tolerance for wavering on support for 2nd Amendment and the Bill of Rights in general (which I could admittedly only recite 3 or 4 off top of my head)

    I guess I’m “issuist”.

  24. Avitable

    ADW, you’re just mad because I turned you down when you wanted me to give you a pearl necklace.

    NYCWD, that is a good point. Just because someone might not be of a certain income level, it doesn’t mean that they’re uneducated or a drain on society.

    PocketCT, that’s pretty interesting!

    Wayne, nothing wrong with being issuist. While I’m also anti-gun, if that’s an important issue for you when it comes to the Presidency, it’s good that you care that much to find out which candidate supports that issue.

  25. hello haha narf

    growing up i had a very racist parent and a very colorless seeing parent. i was never very comfortable with the nasty words that i heard leave my dad’s mouth. even as a small child they didn’t feel right, didn’t make sense. as young as five i can remember being confused as to why he could say hateful things about niggers, yet have his best friend be the black man across the street. mom tried to explain it as dad seeing mr. wilson for the terrific person that he was, yet it still didn’t make sense to my young mind. still doesn’t make sense to me 30+ years later.

    the neat part about living in a house with two people who had such wildly different views on the world was that it allowed me to make my own opinions and decisions. it forced me to see that not everyone was open minded and accepting, but made me want to be that way.

    i guess when it was announced that mom and dad were divorcing, the only surprise was that it took so long.

    p.s. i am proud of you for writing this.

  26. Coal Miner's Granddaughter

    I grew up with a father who would have disowned me if I brought home a black boyfriend. It’s sad. But I’m so very excited that our choice for a Democratic candidate has come down to a black man and a woman. It’s amazing. Just think what four years from now will be like! It’s a very exciting time to be an American.

    Now, having said that, I won’t vote for Obama or Clinton. They want to spend money we’ve earned on social program we can’t afford. We’ve got a weak economy and the Democrats want to tax us more? I don’t get it. And John McCain? No. I don’t like war mongering. I don’t agree that we should leave Iraq tomorrow, but I also disagree with “being in Iraq for 100 years.”

    So, I’m excited but at the same time disappointed because my two favorite candidates dropped out months ago.

  27. Greeneyezz

    *Nods head in agreement*
    That’s a good post Adam. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect with a post title like that. (If nothing else, it’s an Attention-Getter.) 🙂

    It’s interesting because, with regards to our Political Candidates, I’ve had a hunch that there was going to be an increase in subtle (and not so subtle) ‘-isms’ because of the two possibilities for a Democratic President…Racism & Sexism, as we live in a Country that has Always ALWAYS been led by a White Male.
    People fear the unknown.

    People also are creatures of habit.
    Meaning, if they grew up with a certain ‘world view’, it will actually take extra synapses to fire for a person to take a serious look at the beliefs and values instilled in them and to challenge if they are indeed accurate and reflective of who they really are as a person. Quite frankly, I think that some people are just too damn lazy sometimes to do that…Think outside of the box that one grew up in and challenge some of those beliefs.

    ~ZZ

  28. Poppy

    You know what will help all the young Americans who believe in Obama’s message come out to vote?

    When we older adults who have some life experience stop saying the following things about them (and I quote from your post):

    “You can’t trust them.” “You have to watch them like a hawk or they’ll rip you off.” “They’re lazy and will do the work half-assed if you’re not careful.”

    …because, you know, we really do treat the youth of America this way. And they don’t feel supported as contributing members to our society, so why would they help us better society by choosing the right person for the job of President of the United States of America?

    But BACK TO THE ACTUAL POINT OF THIS-HERE-POST:

    I agree.

    And I have absolutely no strategy for when my father and stepmother spew their hatred for anyone different than themselves so I just clam up and remind myself that they didn’t raise me and that’s not who I am and if my mom heard them say those things they would be indefinitely grounded.

  29. Miss Britt

    A fucking Men to Poppy’s comment.

    We treat people who are younger than us like they are too stupid or inexperienced to make a valid contribution.

    And then when society deems they are “old enough”, we’re just expect them to suddenly step into that role.

  30. NYCWD

    I have to disagree with the assessment of the young people of today. I think young people are treated based upon their level of maturity and intelligence.

    There are in fact, as evidenced by a comment in this very post, some 16 year olds who are more mature and intelligent than some 30 year olds. They have a greater grasp on the issues at hand, the complexities of the system, and that of people themselves.

    I think that to a large degree they see this as a genuine opportunity for change… and for that reason they have become a driving force in making that change happen as promised by the candidate they see as the most likely to deliver.

    Let’s just hope there is a delivery in these promises… and they are not empty ones like some of those made before by other “candidates of change”.

  31. Poppy

    I’ve heard young Americans specifically state that their elders do not respect their opinions so why bother voting. I’ve heard that from their mouths.

    If the youth of America does not feel included in the decision-making process for our society then [insert doomsday message here].

  32. NYCWD

    I would point out to said young Americans that age does not determine whether their opinions are respected or not. Everyone’s opinions should be respected… although they are not necessarily agreed with. There is a difference, and I often find people confusing the two.

    The you of America can only feel included in the decision-making process if in fact they CHOOSE to include themselves in it. That is an apathy that is found in both the youth, middle aged, and the elderly.

    A person with an understanding of this can see the logic behind it… and hopefully will be inspired to do something about it.

  33. NYCWD

    Actually, Britt, it is here and there. An electoral loss will lead you down the road of apathy.

    The very state you live in right now should understand more than anyone else the power of the single vote… Chad or not. Yet… there are promises of “disenchanting” voters if the DNC does not seat them… yet it was their very own elected state officials who led them down this road.

    Don’t be apathetic because the rules were broken by your local elected officials. When those locals are up for re-election… make the change happen.

  34. Avitable

    Cissa, thanks!

    Hello, that type of disparity with black friends and “other blacks” exists within my family, too, and I don’t understand it.

    Heather, so you think that Republicans aren’t going to increase taxes at all?

    Poppy, awww.

    Greeneyezz, change can be frightening, and I hope that we are all ready for it.

    Poppy, I don’t treat the youth of America that way – I respect the opinions of those who deserve it.

    Britt, that’s one reason it always amazes people how young you are – you have a very old mind.

    Robin, I know, right?

    Bec, just a few is all we need.

    NYCWD, the apathy definitely exists in all generations, and it can be disheartening, but it’s also understandable.

    Angie, why not literally?

  35. Finn

    My neck hurts from the the 180 from yesterday’s post. Don’t worry, I’ll survive.

    I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that basically accepted anyone for the “content of their character” rather than the “color of their skin.” And for those that didn’t, clearly in many cases their own experiences have won out over what they’ve been told. Racism has been around for a very long time… it’s going to take some time to turn it around. But there has been progress, and the fact that Obama is a very viable candidate because of his ideas is proof of that.

  36. Grant

    I’m wishing for an Obama / Clinton win (I don’t care who is P or VP) because then I can tell all the whiny liberals who say this country will never elect anyone other than a white man as President to shut the fuck up. Their posting such drivel in the bloggysphere and pretending their complaints prove they are unbiased and superior to the unwashed masses annoys the shit out of me.

    Besides, fellow paleface fishbelly boring white dude honkey brother, we both know the only skin color that matters is yellow because naughty Asian schoolgirls who do anal are totally hot.

  37. Turnbaby

    I have voted in every election since I have been eligible. People are dying every day for my right to do that.

    I just divorced out of a family that likes to note that there are “good black people” and then there are “niggers”. My immediate family will also note that distinction *sigh* Despite that raising I’ve never felt that and will not abide racism, however subtle it may be.

    To be honest I remain very much unimpressed with all three people running for President. I’m concerned that McCain will just be too much of the same. I’m concerned Obama is “all hat and no cattle”. I’m concerned that Clinton will be too polarizing.

    I’ll vote in the primary here next Tuesday.

  38. Lynda

    Do you think that perspective on race and prejudice has changed that much? To me, it depends on what part of the country you live in. I found Indiana to be a lot different than California as far as racial views are concerned. I would imagine that Florida would be more like California in their view point.

    I do like to believe that people are changing, but sometimes it seems it’s not as much as I would have expected.

  39. Poppy

    @Dawg: It is our job as a society to foster an accepting and tolerating environment. If the youth of America do not feel included then we have failed.

    (And you look very pretty today.)

  40. Maman

    Whall, you do realize that Obama represented the southside of Chicago, right? We folks in the cities have a dimmer view of gun sales then the rest of you. In that regard, I believe he served his community well.

    Also, I love the “young people” discussions only because I am having trouble convincing my mother that I am middle-aged. She is convinced that I am a young’un and she is middle aged… because you always see 128 year old women walking around.

  41. Avitable

    Britt, you manage to be an old soul who is young at heart, and I think that’s the best of both worlds.

    Finn, what, Mary Worth and a discussion of racism don’t go hand in hand?

    Grant, it also makes us look ignorant and prejudiced to the entire world, so getting a woman or a black man in the highest office in the country might be a good rehabilitative step for America. I know how much you have yellow fever – I don’t share that, though. I’m a redhead fan.

    Poppy Buxom, aww, thanks! I don’t think it deserves it, though.

    Turnbaby, I’ve heard that sentiment, too. It’s even more disconcerting, I think, when it’s a black friend who is making that distinction.

    Lynda, Florida’s a pretty backwards state, actually. And I’m only using myself as an example – I grew up in a household where prejudice occurred, and it wasn’t ingrained in me.

    Nina, that is true. McCain is a smart guy. Old as fuck, but smart. But if he has Huckabee as his running mate and then he dies, we’re all royally fucked.

    Poppy, I agree with Dawg to some extent. The kids who actually try will get respect. The ones who don’t shouldn’t be coddled.

    Maman, yeah, but Wayne’s from Texas, so you have to take his gun stance with a pound of salt!

  42. NYCWD

    @Poppy– Yes, we should foster an environment of tolerance and acceptance… however to allow the opinions of young people to outweight the opinions of the middle-aged and elderly in order to provide the sense of that environment for the young segment of Americans is just adding to the woosification of this country. If they have an opinion and a viewpoint they should stick to it through adversity just as other people, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony did.

    Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

  43. Crys

    i grew up in Hawaii, outer islands. “outer islands” is relevant because on those islands, racism against white people is accentuated even more so than on the main island of Oahu (i also grew up there, so i can compare). for example, in some diners on the Big Island, i would not be served. people made fun of me for being “haole”, even though i was third generation, my dad having been born on Molokai and my grandfather having lived there nearly all his life. i had to fight all my formative years — boys, girls — physically. all the time, just for being white. my father taught me street fighting at an early age because otherwise i would have been routinely jacked in the bathroom like my brother was, just for the color of my skin.

    i think i have a unique perspective on racism because of this. i know what it’s like to be discriminated against because of the color of my skin. even so, my father was a huge racist himself (against Japanese and blacks, just to name two), and it was a defining moment in my life when i finally told him to never, ever, use the word “nigger” in my presence again, or i wouldn’t spend time with him. i rarely stood up to him; he could be a frightening guy.

    looking back, i guess i can’t blame him for his own racism — he grew up way back in the day, and he too had to fight a lot, just because he was white. he hurt people and was hurt by people. in the end it’s all just so messed up. but you’re right, Adam. we’re not living in our parents’ day. we’ve absolutely come a long way, baby, and we can be proud of that.

    racism of any kind is wrongheaded and hurtful, and everyone, no matter their color, can be a racist. racism is simply judging another person based on how they look, pure and simple, and we all ought to be enlightened enough to see beyond such things at this time in our history.

    (having said that, i won’t be voting for Obama for a variety of reasons, mainly his voting record here in Illinois, and what seems to me to be a supreme lack of judgment in certain areas. but it’s not because he’s black, that’s for damned sure.)

  44. Poppy

    We are “arguing” different points.

    I’m saying if you want young people to vote you have to let them know their vote is important.

    I’m not saying only their vote counts.

    And young people learn to be the person they are by example of others. They choose to be like or not like what/who they know.

    There is a prejudice against young people. Maybe not by you, maybe not by Adam, but there is one. I see that prejudice Monday through Friday for 8 months out of the year, and even sometimes when they’re home for break.

  45. metalmom

    My dad was racist in many ways. His parents were too but I didn’t learn that until I was much older. My mom married into this family as a Native American (which also didn’t sit well with my grandparents) She is so color-blind it amazes me.Thank God for her because it rubbed off on me. I see humans and don’t understand why there has to be differences made.I’ve tried my best to raise my kids to to likewise be color-blind but it saddens me when they come home from work on constructions sites to talk about the “niggers”, “beaners” and “push-starts” They claim it is because they are surrounded by older men who talk like that 24/7. I’m always challenging them to stop listening and try to be an example to them.

    It’s really hard once they are adults.

  46. radioactive girl tori

    “I’m not writing this post to pat myself on the back – yay me for not being racist” (one of my favorite lines in your whole post but I also love the entire post a very lot)

    I love that you wrote this. I have a friend who constantly tells me that she thinks it is great that I allow my daughter to have a black best friend. She goes on to tell me how people with black skin are just the same as people with white skin. The fact that she mentions the color of my daughter’s best friend’s skin sort of makes her a racist in my opinion even though she is saying she thinks it is ok. Mentioning the skin color at all sort of negates the words she is saying about how it is ok. You’d never see someone saying that she thinks it is great that I allow my son to have a white best friend, you know? Skin color shouldn’t matter. It should be the persons insides we are voting for. Does that make any sense?

    Anyway, I did love this post even though my comment is sort of nonsensical because I have had too much coffee and can’t seem to focus my thoughts. I’ll try harder next time!

  47. NYCWD

    There is a prejudice against young people just as there is a prejudice against the elderly… and I can show that to you 52/7/24. The fact is that those you see are economically able to be where they are… so is it different for young people elsewhere? I think not.

    In the end it boils down to the fact there are those who have the intelligence regarding the issues and develop opinions from that, and those who don’t. Those who do also need to make a stand for their opinion in the face of adversity including being told to STFU whether it be by an elder OR a peer. With the power of conviction, there is no sacrifice of self-esteem or respectability… unless they are not truly dedicated to their ideas.

    At that point, they can just join those without the intelligence or opinions to begin with.

    I am the nut. I am the nut. I am the nut.

  48. Avitable

    Poppy, I was told to STFU a lot, too. Didn’t stop me, though. And you’re always right!

    NYCWD, what about my nuts?

    Crystal, does that still happen in the outer islands where white people aren’t served?

    Metalmom, I’ve never even heard “push-start” before.

    Radioactive Girl, caffeine helps the brain go.

    NYCWD, the nut or a nut?

  49. Crys

    for that matter — probably all islands. i was back on Oahu a couple of years ago (though the North Shore, which is somewhat more remote) and felt very clearly that i was different from others, as was my kid. but that could have been because i didn’t act like a local anymore — i’m pure Chicagoan now, and it was obvious.

    i have a lot of friends that are still there, though. “reverse racism” is still a problem.

  50. NYCWD

    Avi– It’s all about the nuts… so Yes and Yes.

    Crys– I don’t think there’s anything “reverse” about that… it’s racism plain and simple. It’s the same thing when I go into Momma’s for some soul food in Harlem with my partner… words will be said loudly enough, yet not directed at us, that are in fact racist… including words directed at my partner for being a “sellout” since he happened to be the same color as those speaking loudly. Using the word “reverse” insinuates there is a “forward” to racism… and I don’t think that’s the case.

  51. Poppy

    When I was 18 I was not confident of my place in society. If someone told me to STFU I did. But I voted at 18 because my mom and stepdad encouraged me to do so. Without their encouragement I would have felt like I had no business doing so.

    And, not everyone who goes here has money. I sure didn’t. Tuition remission was and is the best gift my dad ever gave me.

  52. deb

    I never comment here and I know I should continue to keep my mouth shut, but I can’t.

    I agree that it doesn’t matter what color or gender you are to be president, I agree we want the smartest, best person for the job. I do.

    But at the same time I do care if my child were to date outside of her race. I think that for me it isn’t because their skin is a different color it is their culture is different. You can’t fully understand or blend with a culture you weren’t raised in. I don’t want my child to have that added difficulty when it comes to who she will marry.

    People can say those things don’t matter, I can pull out my liberal side and say it doesn’t matter we should all love one another. But reality is it does matter, atleast it does to me.

  53. Grant

    Hopefully it is getting better by the generations. My grandmother loudly uses the word “nigger” everywhere in public, including church, regardless of who is in attendance. My mother is one of the “those people” types, although avoiding saying anything overtly racist. And I study Japanese and frequent Asian restaurants despite the very real threat that it may cause one of the hot bunny waitresses to have sex with me. It’s just the brave and progressive type of guy I am.

  54. Crys

    nycwd: i totally agree, which is why i put it in quotes. it’s called that (“reverse racism”) because it’s racism against a majority, but of course it isn’t that. all racism is hateful, hurtful and wrong, no matter who it’s coming from, or who it’s directed to.

    there are people in our society who don’t necessarily believe that, however, but that’s a whole nother Oprah. 😉

  55. Greeneyezz

    Deb – First off, I’d like to say that I admire your openess and honesty and to be able to say what you think, given that it may be bet with disagreement. (I think that’s a strength there indeed.)

    I do respectfully disagree with your stance that: “You can’t fully understand or blend with a culture you weren’t raised in.”
    Why the need to ‘blend in’? Why can’t differences be respected, and even admired? I would be bored to tears if my mate was someone ‘just like me’.

    We live in the major melting pot of the world. In all honesty, with the exception of Native Americans, we are ALL from different Cultures and backgrounds.

    Mmmmmmmmm……….

    ~ZZ

  56. Poppy

    @Greeneyezz: Thank you for saying that. I’d also like to say that if we respect our children as strong-minded, capable individuals we let them make their own decisions about who they want to have platonic or intimate relationships with.

  57. B.E. Earl

    My first 11 years were spent in a town whose population was fairly diverse. I had friends and classmates from accross the race rainbow.

    Then we moved to an all-white community (that wasn’t the reason) and I found out was racism really was all about. I couldn’t believe some of the things I heard the kids in my school say. Things that were never said or even thought in my old school.

    I still don’t get it.

  58. Avitable

    Crystal, so if I go to Hawaii, stick with the resorts?

    NYCWD, nuts to that!

    Poppy, how did you get that as a gift?

    Jared, well, I don’t want to name any names . . .

    Nanna, I don’t know about that. Just an opinion is all.

    Jeff, awesome!

    Cat, I was interested in hearing what your opinion would be.

    Deb, does this mean that if, for example, you lived in the deep South, you wouldn’t want your daughter to date someone from NYC or Chicago or Los Angeles? Because the cultural differences between the upbringing would be hugely different, moreso than a black family and a white family living in the same town. Were you and your husband raised in the exact same environment?

    Grant, you are very brave.

    Crystal, a whole ‘nother Oprah indeed.

    Poppy, yeah.

    Greeneyezz, that’s one of my biggest questions, too.

    Chicka Nuts, this is still on the edge.

    BE Earl, that must have been quite a shock.

    Karen, only if you throw in a little sumpin’ sumpin’ with it.

    Yoshi, thanks!

  59. Willie G

    Excellent post. I’m amazed how many in my generation have tried to hold on to the old prejudices from the 60’s. My kids seem to be oblivious to color. Now that things have been set in motion perhaps there is no stopping it now.

    Go Obama!!

  60. Poppy

    I don’t understand the question.

    My dad worked at the university when I was ready for college. Employees of the university are eligible for tuition remission for themselves and their dependents. I was magically made his dependent taxically speaking and got to go “for free”.

    Now that I work here too I can continue taking classes “for free” because of that same benefit.

    If you meant your question in a different way please explain.

  61. Sybil Law

    I have a 6 year old daughter, and all I care about as far as who she might choose to spend her life with, is whether or not they’re nice people who will treat her well. I’m giving her the skills to make choices, and one of those “skills” is to judge people on who they are on the inside; not what they look like on the outside. I won’t even let her say someone looks weird, fat, or ugly – because that stuff doesn’t matter (as she now knows, but she had to learn that). She’s already a lot more thoughtful and wise than a lot of adults I know. The only time she’s ever really thought, to my knowledge, about the difference in someone’s skin was on Martin Luter King, Jr day at school. Also, some kids in her class since then have made some references to skin color differences, but true to being my kid, she’s told them, “It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, as long as you’re a nice person!”.
    Why the hell can’t EVERYONE get that?!

  62. delmer

    I was four or five before I recall encoutering my first AA person. A kid, my age, and I were swimming in a lake and I remember asking if he was black all over … he said “everywhere except the palms of my hands and soles of my feet,” and showed me. And we had a great time playing.

    When I went back in to the place we had our towels spread out I remember friends of my parents taunting me for playing with the little colored boy (I don’t know that the “n” word didn’t come up). I wasn’t sure what they meant, but it didn’t sound good.

    When my middle child was about the same age he was introducing my then-wife to kids in his class. “This is Mike, he has glasses … this is Karen, she has red hair … this is Shannon, she has a brown face …”

    He recognized skin color, but used it just to help identify friends.

    So I have hope, too, that as generations pass unimportant differences will become unimportant.

  63. deb

    I guess I kinda am in the deep south. To answer your question no I think americans are americans, geographically speaking. I am going to stereo type big time and I know it is a stereo type and I know it doesn’t apply to all people in all situations. But we all use stereo types whether we will admit it or not.
    In my life experience I have learned that a large majority of Hispanics believe that a woman should stay at home having babies and OBEY her husband or feel the crack of his hand. I have learned that black men feel it is okay for the woman to work like a dog trying to raise children while they pretend to be gangsters and do nothing to help in the raising of the children.

    I learned these are culturally acceptable things. I have friends who are black I have friends who are hispanic. I love some aspects of their cultures and I am repulsed by others.

    I think marriage is hard enough without having to overcome cultural differences. My husband and I were both raised in the same state less than 30 miles apart in similar family situations. We argue over money and past addictions. I didn’t have to learn new behaviors to blend into his family or he into mine. I think it is better that way. IT is just an opinion.

  64. Shelli

    Wow! Living here in the northern part of the United States, I don’t see or hear of many people who think the way that you do, Deb. In my opinion, you need to broaden your horizons and not just go by the few token black people or the few token hispanic people that you claim are your friends and not judge a whole race on those couple things you claim to know about their cultures. Maybe I need to take off my rose colored glasses and come to the realization that there are still people like you in our country.

  65. deb

    Shelli- I said it was an opinion and they are not just a few “token” friends. I live in a town where I am in the minority. All of my friends and associates here are Hispanic. As I said MY life experience and I did say it was a stereotype. I don’t really know what you mean by people like me but I assume you meant to be insulting.

  66. Avitable

    Willie G, that’s good to hear about your kids.

    Poppy, that answers the question completely!

    Sybil, sounds like a pretty smart kid.

    Delmer, that type of thing is cute when kids do it because you know it’s just how they think.

    Mike, damn Canadians.

    Deb, I can see your point, but if your daughter was dating a Hispanic man who you met and realized that he didn’t fit the stereotype, would you still be against it? In the midwest and in rural areas, it’s common for the woman to be expected to just pop out kids, even today, so a Midwestern husband who married someone who was raised in New York would have many of the same clashes, but you wouldn’t have problems with that.

    Shelli, it’s okay – I appreciate Deb being brave enough to give her opinion, even if it’s not one that I agree with.

  67. deb

    Oh I would have problems with any man who thought my daughter was to stay at home popping out kids. I haven’t been to the midwest often enough to know of that stereotyped difference. As far as a hispanic or black man who did not fall into that stereotype if my daughter wanted to date them then of course I would be okay with it. All I really want is for her to have happiness.

    I know my opinion isn’t the popular one. But sometimes you gotta stir the pot and spill it out there anyways.

  68. NYCWD

    @Poppy– While I understand what your saying, the truth is that a university setting is the most encouraging environment for activism there is. Would those looking to fuck the pig state had turned around and been quiet had I, an obvious elder with my white hair, told them to STFU? I don’t think so… which is the power of their conviction.

    @Avi– I hope those nuts are salted!

    @Crys– Yes, I know what you mean… and it would be a whole other Oprah.

    Deb– I can completely understand that sentiment… although I don’t generally agree with it. The overreaching protectiveness of our children has actually stunted this country’s ability to compete because for the most part things are just handed to them and having to fight and earn what should rightfully be their’s is something they no longer know how to do… including acceptance by a SO’s family who may be from a different culture. I tend to think, that if your daughter’s chosen SO was the same color, culture, and gender… then you would probably have the same issues… but in the end all it is doing is hindering their ability to grow as a person and form their own opinion.

    Skin color does not make culture. My ex-wife, with her Colombian olive skin and ebony mane still cannot speak a lick of Spanish, make yellow rice and beans, or clean a house. However, her lasagna is killer. Why? Because although she is Columbian she was adopted by an Italian family.

    While I also recognize your admission that the description of Hispanics and Blacks is in fact a stereotype, and the fact that the stereotypes are relied upon by society at large does not preclude us from our responsibility to end the misperceptions. What does stop us is, in fact, our own fears that we *GASP* our parents and what we unconsciously learned for years may have been wrong!

    I refuse to condemn you for your opinion, because it is your American given right to have it no matter how it differs from my own… but I do highly suggest that you allow your children to form their own opinions… and do not condemn them should they choose differently than as you would have them choose… but instead defend their right to have a different opinion.

  69. Greeneyezz

    Deb – I think we are all products of our environment. We don’t have control over where we grew up or the messages that we were given about other people, as children.
    However, Part of being a responsible and ‘mindful’ adult is to take a look into our own belief system and values that were handed down to us by the people most influential to us as children: our parents.

    Can you imagine where we would be if we *didn’t* question what we were taught??? I had given a similar example on a different site about Christopher Columbus *defying* what *Beliefs* were passed down to him about the World being Flat.

    You had commented: “These are culturally accepted things. I have friends who are black. I have friends who are hispanic. I love some aspects of their cultures and I am repulsed by others.” (And damn you Adam for making the copy & paste inoperatable, making me TYPE all that out!) 🙂
    I am going to ‘assume’ that you are Caucasian. (And if I’m wrong, please correct me.) If you are indeed Caucasian, have you *ever* come across *any* aspect your culture that you’ve been repulsed by??
    My guess is that, unless you’ve been living under a rock all your life, you have.

    If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be safe to then say that there are *some* aspects of PEOPLE that *are* repulsive?? That you will find some undesirable traits in *any* culture/race???

    On a separate note, I’m sorry that you were given such a limited view of the world we live in. While you had absolutely no choice in that matter when growing up, you certainly do have an ethical responsibility as an adult And Parent to challenge some of your limited beliefs and views of people.

    ~ZZ

  70. deb

    NYCWD– I like what you said and how you said it. You are wrong in that I would have a problem if my daughter were homosexual, I would not have a problem with it at all.

  71. Poppy

    @Dawg: I was wondering when you’d pull the “fuck the pig state” card. That crowd was moving so quickly you wouldn’t have had time to finish saying “STFU” before they trampled over you with their Birks and Guccis. A united front!

  72. Greeneyezz

    @Adam I agree, there is a strength in Deb giving her honest opinion. Though I don’t agree with her stance, I can respect that she has voiced it. btw – I’m home now and can copy & paste. (That’s odd.)

    @Poppy – I just now saw your comment to me above. (Thank you!) 😉

    @Deb – I am hoping you were not taking my feedback as an attack on you. If you had, I am sorry, it was not my intention.

    ~ZZ

  73. Been there Done that

    Just a few thoughts about your post and the thread:
    * Bravo to you.
    * Boo to the people who are prejudiced against Deb for having an opinion different from theirs.
    * When I saw “colored” on water fountains as a young girl…I was jealous because our water had no color in it.
    * My in-laws of 35 years are the most racist people that I know. I can’t change them, but that doesn’t mean that I think that they are stupid.
    * Some groups of people (like my redneck in-laws that I love) deserve the comments that people make about them.
    * You young’uns are our hope for the future. Everybody should listen to them.
    * The mixed-race children that I have taught are physically beautiful. Maybe God was just tired of all of the ugly people.
    * That is all.

  74. cajunvegan

    “There are only two ways of spreading light –
    to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

    Edith Wharton

    You did a little of both with this post. Hopefully, our next POTUS will do the same.

  75. Karl

    Well said, sir. I have quite a few racists in my family. Even comments like “she’s a really nice black girl” make my skin crawl. They never say “he’s a really nice white guy.”

  76. The Beautiful Kind

    yay you for not being racist! 😉

    My 7 yr old daughter is a little torn over who to vote for – the brown skin man or the woman.

    She finally went for the brown skin man so that she can be the first female prez. I told her, “Nooo we can’t wait that long!” 🙂

  77. Cissa Fireheart

    I have lived on Oahu, and I can confirm Crys’s racism of the “white people”….On Oahu, it’s Military as well as just the white folks….the locals either love you or hate you…and when they hate you….look out!

    I had a hard time being a blonde, fair-skinned half-hispanic the first year…then my heritage kicked in, I went from white to deep golden tan and I was harassed less. I was stunned!

    It was a culture shock I’ll never forget. it changed my ways, because before then I will admit, I was somewhat racist to some folks. And I won’t lie, I thought I was a little superior for a while because of my skin color….amazing how an experience like that will change your whole outlook on life…

  78. Pumpkin

    What bothers me the most is the FACT that Obama is as much white as he is black since his mother is white.

    I agree that we all need to get past this whole color issue because it is the person that matters the most.

    I think Obama is a man of dignity and intelligence that this county is in great need of.

  79. MP

    :clap:
    Exactly!
    I was raised with similar teachings.. but I haven’t let it effect me like it did the previous generation.
    My 8 year old step son now doesn’t describe people by the color of their skin at all..it’s like he doesn’t see that first. He sees the color of their shirt.. the right direction for sure.
    Now…let’s talk about that option of having a woman president.. You wouldn’t seriously want a woman president would you??

  80. Avitable

    Deb, definitely – thank you for not being afraid to give your opinion.

    NYCWD, you so smaht.

    Greeneyezz, I didn’t make copy and paste inoperable? It works for me!

    Poppy, I’m so confused.

    Crystal, to pork, or to eat it?

    Greg & Sheryl, thank you.

    Been There, I think it does smack of stupidity, though. A little education and perspective could make a huge difference!

    Cajunvegan, awww, thanks.

    Y2K, hell yeah – Canucks are fair game.

    Karl, people say “he’s not really that creepy” about me all the time. Is that close enough?

    Jake, thank you.

    Beautiful Kind, I hope it doesn’t take another 40-something years!

    Cissa, your heritage kicked in? Or you just hung out in the sun a lot?

    Pumpkin, it’s like the pessimism vs. optimism joke that Sarah Silverman makes.

    Kapgar, sometimes people are blindest to their biggest failings.

    Dory, hallelujah!

    MP, well, she’d be all PMSy and probably nuke the world . . .

    BBM, wait, aren’t you older than me? I don’t know if you can lump me in with your generation . . .

    Maman, what about fat Canadians?

  81. Y2K Survivor

    Fat People? But if drinking is a disease, why isn’t eating?! That’s just unfair to consider otherwise, and thus that means you are making fun of disabled people with eating disorders! FOR SHAME!

    Canadians on the other are perfectly capable of saving themselves. You are the Country that produced Shania Twain for God’s sake! A woman who goes around warbling “It don’t impress me much” and thus undermines the American tradition of greed and corruption. NUKE CANADA!!!! NUKE THEM ALL BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!! They don’t even play REAL football

  82. Gina

    I really hope that Obama gets the Democratic nomination and more importantly the Presidency. Some of my family is racist, so I definitely understand where you’ve been with family and racism. My family (my mother’s side) would have a huge problem with my dating a black person and more specifically having a baby with. I tend to focus on the person and not their race, so oh well. I will date, do, and have babies with whoever I wish to regardless of race and family can deal.

  83. K8spade

    I grew up in a similar way. Not explicitly racist, but racist. My mom has said (and still says) “nigger”. Most recently, I went home to my nephew’s birthday party, and all the men (rednecks) started making fun of Hispanics. I was actually uncomfortable. You really gotta work to make ME uncomfortable. What the fuck is wrong with people?

  84. Avitable

    Y2K, on the other hand, they do give us some good comedians.

    Gina, so you want to have my babies, is that what you’re saying? I’d need full body nude photos for your application.

    K8Spade, I think saying that is pretty explicitly racist, though.

  85. Judy

    I meandered over here from COM and I am having a grand time reading and watching videos, but I was stopped dead in tracks by this post.

    You are right and I too hope there are enough of us out there in November to elect Obama.

  86. Bob

    I am 40 and grew up in the same atmosphere. I thought it was horrible when even the slightest racist thing came out of one of my parents or grandparents mouths. That was until I went into the Navy. Now I hate niggers and I hate how Hollywood pushes them on me. I moved where there are no niggers and if they spread here I will move further nort. Hopefully I will die before there is no where else to move. My parents were 75% right and I don’t wish to give the 25% that are decent people the benefit ouf the doubt. You only get one life and I really am not that sentimental.

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