Saturday, December 30, 2006

i could kick myself

O.K., so i called up Michaels yesterday. i had put off doing it mainly because after i calmed down about the whole thing, i didn't care anymore. but it was still nagging me in the back of my mind. it's the principle of the matter. you just don't treat people like that. plus, i'd never get away with treating clients that way. ESPECIALLY BEING BLACK. why should she?

so, the kids were with grandma, hub was at work, it was nice and quiet. i called and asked to speak to the manager. his name was tracey. or stacey. i actually don't remember. anyway, i went on with this big spill about Pam, and how she treated me like shit (didn't say shit), blah, blah, unacceptable....blah, blah, blah...she needs to brush up on her customer service skills....blah, blah, blah.

all the while thinking that i'm probably talking to myself anyway, because he probably doesn't give a rats ass about what i'm saying. so i finished my piece, and then it was his turn to talk.

once he started apologizing, i could tell right away he was a black man. so sue me, i called it. i know he was black. he had that bass in his voice (yeah, i said it). so he began telling me how sorry he was and he'll have a chat with Pam.

i'm thinking GREAT. he probably thinks i'm just some old white snob...i should have made myself sound black, so he'd know where i was coming from. i can turn that on and off when i want, and most of the time it's off.
Damn. oh well.


Anonymous said...

I like AJ Java a lot, sometimes I go to the one on Albina near my school. I gave up on the whole Starbucks thang years ago and opted for supporting small businesses, but I find that going into independent coffee shops in Portland is awkward. Maybe it's just beacuse i'm the only one of color most of the time, and they look at me funny when I order a huge cup of espresso! Hello! Dominicans drink espresso like water. Humph!

coffee + people of color = my kinda place =)

skyview satellite said...

A fiction writer couldn't have come up with a better ending!
Brilliant! Thanks for making that call.

Anonymous said...

I am a black woman that lives in a primarily conservative "white" world. Why? My husband's job and yes he is black. Your site is intriguing b/c I realize some of the questions and comments you make are thoughts we have exercised at some point. You have answered a question my hubby and I have asked ourselves: Would we go through all this crap if one of us were white. I appears the answer is yes. *chuckle* That's irony. My comments on your conflict. Up until two years ago, I would frequently find myself in this dilemma. I realize the reason. I was so busy trying to fit in my so called "white" by acting contrary to the stereotypes place on women of color (I had to be a positive role model) that I forgot some of those prejudices are to my benefit. If this woman had attitude, she set the precedence. Give her another chance, ignore the sigh, but after the second instance, why not return her disrespect? Hit the black woman's look of disgust, roll your eyes, and dare her to act a fool another time. I've met some white women who have a bigger chip on their shoulder than some of the black women I know. The difference I've seen so far, black women aren't as passive aggressive as their counterparts and don't mind direct confrontation. I realized you grew up with educated parents. If they were like my mother, they've taught you the attitude. Use it! In some instances, the stereotypes that surround black women are helpful. This was one. You said you can turn on the black voice, then turn on a touch of black attitude. Let her mind do the rest of the talking. If you really want to put icing on the cake, let her know it's a shame you've gotta act indecent to get some GOOD service.

Anonymous said...

I keep coming back to your site to see if you have grown wiser or just enlightened...and you haven't. YOU have self hate issues. I just read your blog about Michael's and the part that you wrote about "making yourself sound black," is one of the most ignorant things I've ever heard.
And then you topped that by saying that you "can turn it on and off when you want...most of the time it's off."
Ignorant! Why is it off most of the time? Maybe the manager was white and he could tell that you were black so he turned on his "black" voice. Maybe he has that ability that you have to do that too.
You give black women who love themselves and are true to themselves a very bad name. You're ashamed of who you are.
And before you try and "label" me, let me just tell you that I'm a black woman also married to a white man and I don't wake up everyday thinking about my "white husband." Yes there are differences, but he's just my husband. We're just a married couple with a child, living in the world and trying to make a living. We love each other, our family and our friends - a group of multi-racial people that we don't "turn it off and on" for.
Please seek some help so that your children don't grow up with identity issues like yours.

D said...

1) You're being hypocritical about whether people should be able to judge someone's race by their voice - you do it, but get mad when someone else does it, even in a more obvious situation than yours.

2) I get bad customer service sometimes, too. I'm a white guy, and I've had bad customer service from all different kinds of people, white or not, male and female. Even the same exact scenario... the sigh as if my request troubled them greatly. I too, have followed up with a manager letting them know that an employee was a little lacking in customer service.

I can't judge whether such things happen to you more than they do to me... I'd guess they probably do. BUT... your expectation that when it does happen, it has something to do with race feeds into the cycle. It perpetuates it. It adds animosity between the races that simply is not helpful.

If someone says a bluntly, overtly racist thing, or something stereotypically offensive, etc. THAT is when to play the race card, and play it strong.

But to read race into something which may or may not be related to race is counter-productive. Not racist or dumb, it just hurts the end result when all is said and done.

And to expect that a black manager would treat a customer better if he only knew she was black... I find that idea disagreeable - I would NEVER play on the fact I was white with a white manager to try to gain tactical advantage in my disagreement with a black employee. Revenge never makes anything better, even when it's something as egregious as racism.

I know racism hurts, I've seen it first hand. Racists are idiots. I've had two hour-long debates with racists about how screwed up their perspective is, and I've seen how callous and insensitive they are, and how hurtful the things are that they say.

It's three in the morning, so maybe I'm repeating myself, but by assuming something is racially motivated when maybe it's not, you indirectly give real racists more power.


But as I write this, I also realize this is like the fourth or fifth time I'm effectively saying I think you read too much into things... and it sounds like I'm minimizing.

What's that old saying about it being easiest to criticize another person about something you see as a reflection of yourself? Especially up until about 10 years ago, I read into things way too much, and I still do it a little bit, but I think I'm in the "normal" range now : )


Anyway, wanted to say thanks for the blog, it's been thought provoking... If I run into your blog again, I'll try to focus on stuff I agree with you on, too. A little too much red ink, tonight, perhaps. : )