Friday, June 10, 2011

categories

i think that most white people are scared/intimidated by black people. if they're not the type of white person who has spent any time around black folks or has black friends, i have found that these white people are either scared of, or treat black people like they're invisible.

i started to thinking about this when i was thinking about my neighbor. i don't try to be the center of attention, but i have known white women who BARELY gave me the time of day when they've never even had the chance to know me( to dislike me). but yet, they'll mingle with another unknown white person( let's assume we're all at a party and no one knows each other) and will be super chummy. i believe that most white people think that interacting with a black person is a low priority-we're not potential friends, we're just sort of invisible to them. and if we happen to be too bold to be invisible, they're scared and intimidated.

this theory of mine is nothing new, although i'm not sure if i've ever put it into words in this blog. but what i started to realize, as i was driving down the street today, after being snubbed by my neighbor was this:

whenever i interact with a white person for the first time, i instantly categorize them afterwards this way (based on their behavior when we interacted):

1)they are a white person who has never been around black people, who has never had any real/meaningful interaction with black people, and is basically afraid or intimidated (warranted or not). this person views the black person as a sort of "foreigner" in their world and doesn't believe they can relate to them on any level. this person prefers to only deal with them on a need-to basis, and never "sees" the black people around them in daily life. thinks of all black people as the stereotype, and doesn't know that it's a stereotype.

2)a white person who is familiar with black people, may have gone to school with black people, might even have one or two as friends. they're not scared of black people, they're friendly only because it's not their nature to be rude, but that's the extent of it. they don't necessary dislike black people, but they don't want or care to have more than the token black friend. most black people seem "exotic" to them.

3)a white person who was probably raised in an area around black people( or spent any lenth of time ) in a diverse area (workplace or neighborhood) with black people. has several black friends. is not scared or intimidated by black people unless there's a valid reason to be, and open to talking and hanging out with black people.

i realized today that i instantly categorize white people this way after meeting them. i didn't even consciously know i was doing it, until i analyzed my thoughts in sort of a daze while driving today. i was thinking about my white neighbor and how she snubs me for no good reason. and i listened to the voice in my head automatically put her into category 1, and decided that that was why she treats me that way.

7 comments:

Smiley said...

That is so interesting that you would catergorize your neighbor as #1, because I categorized you the very same way after reading through your blog. It was so wonderful to see that you are thinking about the different levels of racism out there and that you so nicely fit. Just consider yourself a non-black person, and re-read any of your entries and how you characterize black men in particular, and tell me that you don't feel the same way about them, as your neighbor feels about you. FASCINATING...

DrLiberty said...

Portland is weird, and it isn't necessarily anything to brag about I was born back East & go back from time to time. Yeah people seem a little more rude and isolated on the East coast, but you can figure out who you're dealing with faster too. No pretense of being "tolerant" to cover guilt over being afraid of other/different people.

Anyhow that is my two cent's worth.

Thank, Q said...

I think I just categorize people in general and not races. I'll meet someone, regardless of color, and label them, but not anything race-related. I usually just put them in the category of nice, smart, stupid, weird, etc.

19240504-6414-11e0-b43c-000bcdcb5194 said...

Have you considered maybe approaching her?

Mr. Murray said...

Cool post. I think most people do some categorization to some extent. Whether or not it is warranted, many Black folks are constantly aware of how others treat them. We don't automatically jump to scream racism, but when we have eliminated other factors, racism becomes a possibility. Obviously, the neighbor can be friendly to other people (including strangers), and if you have done nothing that you know of to piss her off, racism (or maybe just culture) could play a role in her dismissive attitude. Maybe her man was checking you out and she caught him?

Anonymous said...

When I meet black people, I instantly categorize them as either either victimology obsessed types or too-busy-working-like-the-rest-of-us-minorities-to-worry-about-stuff-we-don't-control types.

Anonymous said...

I don't blame you for categorizing every white person. I probably would, too.

To be quite frank, I have caught myself avoiding black people because I assume that they don't want to talk to me. I am from the deep south. When I went to high school in the late '90's, I was one of only 7 people in the school who had friends of different races. And, I got threatened to be beat up for it. I got cans of paint thrown on me. I got called "white bitch" on my way home from school in 3rd grade. I walked into a black neighborhood one time to visit my friend, and the whole neighborhood went quiet and stared me down the whole way to her house. I know I was out of place and I probably would have stared, too. That's not the point.

What I am trying to say is that I've had too many bad experiences to assume that anyone wants to talk to me or be friends. It's better to just play it safe. I know that genetically, race doesn't exist. But where I was from it was downright stupid to ignore cultural differences.

On the same token, a LOT of very mean blonde girls have attacked me - trying to sabotage my friends and relationships. I don't talk to many of them very readily either. I judge people by the type of background they seem to have had. I avoid privileged snotty white girls and black girls that seem to have a tough front on. I don't blame them, but I assume they've had bad experiences with the same types of snotty white girls I have, and probably want to avoid me for the same reasons. I assume the snotty white girls only want friends like them. On both accounts, I am right 9 out of 10 times I end up just trying anyway.

I knew a girl in elementary school who got called "doo doo brown" for being too dark and having jheri curls i (didn't really know what they were at the time). The black girls didn't befriend her and neither did the white girls because she was "too black." Well, I had the same problem except I was both "too white" and "not white enough." So, she was really the only person I could talk to.

But as far as avoiding black people because of negative stereotypes about them? No. Both black and white kids stole from me, cussed me out, and bullied me. I just don't believe that many people want to be my friend, period.