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Subject: Racism In A Place I Didn't Expect It... [US] rss

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David Dixon
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Note to Octavian: Leave this in Chit-Chat, these are the folks I like to talk to. Discussing unexpected racism is not politics, nor am I treading into a religious discussion, nor is it sex. Ergo, it is, I believe, "everything else."

So I recently moved to Cincinnati from Texas; I lived any number of places, but I grew up in the rural South (North Carolina). I've spent my entire adult life in the military (yes, even college), which plays a part in how much I've come to notice about race.

Namely, I got used to being in the Army and in Army towns and seeing a great mixture of people from every race every day--at work, in my neighborhood, at the mall, at the grocery store, at the game store, etc. etc. I've got white friends and black friends and Asian friends and freinds who are black men married to white women and white friends married to Asian women and Jewish friends dating Mexican girls. I just got to a point where I didn't even really think anything about race.

And then I moved to Cincy. The first couple of times I went out shopping in the area where live or walked around my neighborhood I couldn't quite figure out what was wrong--something was different, something felt missing or out of place or off but I couldn't quite see it. Then it hit me.

Everybody looked like me.

Not a black person in sight--not in my neighborhood, not on the street, not in the store. Not a single Mexican anywhere. Not even a Mexican restaurant. No Asians that I could find either. Everyone was white.

Then I went elsewhere in Cincinnati, driving through some neighborhoods on my way to some accounts I'm taking over and I was the only white guy for blocks.

This had me stumped. I don't live in a super rich neighborhood, although we're firmly middle class, but so are plenty of people with different ethnicities than my own. Why does everyone around where live look just like me? Where's the diversity?

Naievely, being from the South where the Civil War is much more recent history than it is up North, I expected more diversity and fewer racial issues from the States up here who had no bloody history of War and Reconstruction. I had had it beaten into my head by movies and books and the like I guess, to believe that the South was the last unfortunate refuge for racial ignorance.

Not so it seems.

Today, I went to get my haircut at a very local barbershop and I discovered why, perhaps, there isn't much diversity in my area. As I said, I'm from the rural South; I knew people who flew Confederate flags regularly (I know, I know "heritage not hate"); I knew people who were probably Klan members.

That said, I haven't heard this kind of language used to describe other races since my grandfather died (himself quite the racist, although he lived in [but was not from] rural Pennsylvania. Not in twenty years have I heard terms like I heard today. Now, to be sure, barber shops are not the most politically correct places on the planet, and I've been in the Army for awhile so I can definitely take a dirty joke or two, but this was beyond belief.

"Rather have a sister in a nigger whorehouse" was one quote. "Rock chuckers" was a term one guy used when describing his own National Guard service in the 1960s once he saw I had on an Army shirt and found out I'd served. "Niggerville" was a term I hadn't heard since hearing it from the lips of a fifth grade boy with a rat tale from a hardscrabble neck of rural Wilkes County growing up. And this wasn't from some old, stuck in his ways bigot either--that last particular term was used by somebody my age in casual conversation!

I was aghast, but as it is my policy never to argue with a man who has your head in one hand and a straight razor in the other, I left after I paid and I won't return. I also knew well enough that they aren't going to change their minds.

I was a stranger, somebody new to the shop, someone who they knew had just moved there from Texas and had been in the Army, because I'd told them when they'd asked. And yet they still felt comfortable using terms like that around me, which tells me that this is just who they are.

So unexpected (to this Southerner) from a place that wore blue during the War.

And so very sad.

Diis
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Andy Andersen
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Sorry. I've rarely been faced with racist comments - one exception, my brother-in-law (who I can't kick the crap out of because of my wife's orders) but I think those kind of comments are rare, or at least (hopefully) becoming rare. Hang in there - the Midwest is a great place. And remember, with over 300 million Americans, there have to be a more than a few that haven't quite evolved.
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Marc P
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As someone who lived in the suburban midwest until he was 13 (with ZERO black people in my neighborhood for blocks and blocks) and who then moved to small town South Carolina and then back to Michigan 16 years later, I can say that your experience is not all that unusual. You just never know when you walk into any business whether overt racism is going to be the norm. Most of the frank racist comments that I encountered in the south was in a private setting, but I was exposed to it in gas stations, hardware stores, and barbershops in Michigan.
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True Blue Jon
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I've been shocked to hear anti-Mexican talk from people up here in the Pacific Northwest. It's interesting to watch them as I tell them my wife is half Mexican.
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J
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Diis wrote:
I've spent my entire adult life in the military (yes, even college), which plays a part in how much I've come to notice about race...seeing a great mixture of people from every race every day... I just got to a point where I didn't even really think anything about race.

QFT. The military is the only place/organization I've found where the vast majority of the people are not racist and also not patronizing toward or scared of other races.

There is no substitute for working day in, day out with members of all sorts of races in relatively equal proportions.
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Andrew Brannan
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Sadly, this is all too common in Cincinnati. There's a reason that some of the most recent race riots in the USA have been in Cincy. I'm Cincy born and raised, and once I left town it was eye-opening. It just wasn't something I was aware of until I lived elsewhere.
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Robert Wesley
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This reminded myself of an encounter I had here a few months ago, when a Hispanic customer approached one of the older cashiers to inquire upon assistance for what he was looking for. The disdainful look of this cashier and curt response without rendering such, made me appalled at their attitude, so I helped him instead with being friendly and courteous in lieu of that other. We located what he wanted, and he was sent along his merry way after he paid for his items, while the clerk didn't take too kindly to me in these regards, but, then again who the HELL does he think he "is" treating anybody in that demeanor? Their $$$$ is earned and spent the same as OURS would be, for the most part, so it wasn't like the fellow was trying to "pawn off Pesos" onto the transaction. I think next time this is encountered, then I'll bring it to the attentions of his superior and remind HIM precisely who he works for, sans any 'bigotry'! They don't have to even feign liking any customer, just so long that these ACT in a professional manner toward one and all, or go find another job where they can get away with that crap!
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fightcitymayor
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abrannan wrote:
There's a reason that some of the most recent race riots in the USA have been in Cincy.
This is what I thought of as well.

Put Cincinnati on the other side of the Ohio River and voila, you are in the South! Most "northerners" I know would consider Cincinnati a "Southern" city, almost more than a "rust belt" town. (Not that we of the rust belt are enlightened to any great degree either, believe you me.)


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Billy the Hut
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Within the US, I've lived in New England, California, and Iowa. Outside of the US I've lived in Tunis, Madrid, and Panama. I've also had the opportunity to travel and visit many places. It's been my experience racism exists to some degree everywhere. It only requires ignorance, no geographical prerequisite needed.

I'll also add that a community that's lacking in diversity is not by definition racist. That may simply be a symptom of immigration patterns. Thankfully people who are not racist can also be found everywhere. It only requires intelligence and the willingness to accept people for who they are.
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Diis wrote:
Note to Octavian: Leave this in Chit-Chat, these are the folks I like to talk to. Discussing unexpected racism is not politics, nor am I treading into a religious discussion, nor is it sex. Ergo, it is, I believe, "everything else."


I understand why you want it to stay in here, and in the ideal world it would (and it might). The problem with posts on it in chit-chat is that people might want get away from thoose kind of trouble with chit-chat. (And that there might be people that thinks this kind of stuff is poltics which is a shame) (Also if we get into to methods of anti-racism then it goes poltical)

Diis wrote:

Namely, I got used to being in the Army and in Army towns and seeing a great mixture of people from every race every day--at work, in my neighborhood, at the mall, at the grocery store, at the game store, etc. etc. I've got white friends and black friends and Asian friends and freinds who are black men married to white women and white friends married to Asian women and Jewish friends dating Mexican girls. I just got to a point where I didn't even really think anything about race.


You probably know this, but for most of the rest of the world the only place that really is reported as without racism in the US, is indeed the military services (and perhaps sports, but sports have clear racist elements in who and where people play and that discusion would be RSP and is avoided)

Diis wrote:

And then I moved to Cincy. The first couple of times I went out shopping in the area where live or walked around my neighborhood I couldn't quite figure out what was wrong--something was different, something felt missing or out of place or off but I couldn't quite see it. Then it hit me.

Everybody looked like me.

Not a black person in sight--not in my neighborhood, not on the street, not in the store. Not a single Mexican anywhere. Not even a Mexican restaurant. No Asians that I could find either. Everyone was white.

Then I went elsewhere in Cincinnati, driving through some neighborhoods on my way to some accounts I'm taking over and I was the only white guy for blocks.

This had me stumped. I don't live in a super rich neighborhood, although we're firmly middle class, but so are plenty of people with different ethnicities than my own. Why does everyone around where live look just like me? Where's the diversity?


A I regular when I want to get upset at the world might hold something on this. (However theese hold high amounts of P should be mentioned). http://microaggressions.com/ this kind of small things that society have that we don't notice but are racism etc.

Diis wrote:

Today, I went to get my haircut at a very local barbershop and I discovered why, perhaps, there isn't much diversity in my area. As I said, I'm from the rural South; I knew people who flew Confederate flags regularly (I know, I know "heritage not hate"); I knew people who were probably Klan members.

That said, I haven't heard this kind of language used to describe other races since my grandfather died (himself quite the racist, although he lived in [but was not from] rural Pennsylvania. Not in twenty years have I heard terms like I heard today. Now, to be sure, barber shops are not the most politically correct places on the planet, and I've been in the Army for awhile so I can definitely take a dirty joke or two, but this was beyond belief.

"Rather have a sister in a nigger whorehouse" was one quote. "Rock chuckers" was a term one guy used when describing his own National Guard service in the 1960s once he saw I had on an Army shirt and found out I'd served. "Niggerville" was a term I hadn't heard since hearing it from the lips of a fifth grade boy with a rat tale from a hardscrabble neck of rural Wilkes County growing up. And this wasn't from some old, stuck in his ways bigot either--that last particular term was used by somebody my age in casual conversation!

I was aghast, but as it is my policy never to argue with a man who has your head in one hand and a straight razor in the other, I left after I paid and I won't return. I also knew well enough that they aren't going to change their minds.


This probably also shows to the problem with the herritage of symbols connected with racism. It stil implies that the behaviour is correct and can think that it is okey to say thoose things.

Diis wrote:

I was a stranger, somebody new to the shop, someone who they knew had just moved there from Texas and had been in the Army, because I'd told them when they'd asked. And yet they still felt comfortable using terms like that around me, which tells me that this is just who they are.

So unexpected (to this Southerner) from a place that wore blue during the War.

And so very sad.



Sad indeed, and I wish I could say this kind of things is not global, but they seem to bee.

( I have experienced things from neonazis beating up somebody right infront of me, to beeing called a "race-traitor" when walking hand in hand with my then girlfriend of central-american descent, to beeing followed around the shops when with friends of non-europan background, to seeing how people I know gets denyed there is any apartment to rent in the section of town with Europeans but the one with the Swedish sounding name and voice calling right after get denied. um sorry if this is RSP though)
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Pete Lane
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Billythehut wrote:
Within the US, I've lived in New England, California, and Iowa. Outside of the US I've lived in Tunis, Madrid, and Panama. I've also had the opportunity to travel and visit many places. It's been my experience racism exists to some degree everywhere. It only requires ignorance, no geographical prerequisite needed.


Yes, it's especially eye opening when you travel in the UK and find out that there is an "American stereotype" based on what people see in the movies. Wear bright colors, talk loud, are all highly political, are all racist, all carry guns, all have supermodel girlfriends...

It's mind blowing. But then I think about how I thought most British people were before living there. Old, highly intelligent, constantly tea sipping, musty, crabby... all stereotypes from tv... whistle

I think part of the problem in the USA is when people's way of life feels "threatened" on either side of the debate. In the Twin Cities we've had large migrations of transplanted ethnic groups arrive within the last 10 years. It's been a bit of a culture clash on all sides, and the newcomers don't feel welcome and they can get jobs or contribute to the population, and the locals see them as roving packs of youth with nothing better to do than start trouble and practice "strange traditions."
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Peter Ferguson
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These type of stories are common when you talk to Canadians having gone to the U.S.

My co-worker said about 15 years ago he and friends were driving through New York (I believe) and was lost. They pulled up to a black fellow walking on the street. When they pulled down the window, the guy was visibly nervous. They simply asked the quickest way to the highway, the first thing he said was "you guys aren't from around here are you".

In other words, white folk don't ask black folk for anything. They got their directions and thanked him and moved onwards.

Another person told me a story where he was in a grocery store, and he in line at the check out, a black man came into the store wanting to ask a quarter to use the payphone. The cashier said no, and told him to leave. The person in line said "I have a quarter" and handed it to him, the man thanked him very much and left. When it was his turn to be checked out, the cashier simply said "you better go, we don't want your kind here"

Unfortunately, I forget the state they were in, and I believe this was well back in the 70's.

Toronto is an extremely diverse place, so when people hear these sorts of stories, it's shocking. Not to say we don't have racial issues of our own.
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Gatekeeper3000 wrote:
These type of stories are common when you talk to Canadians having gone to the U.S.

My co-worker said about 15 years ago he and friends were driving through New York (I believe) and was lost. They pulled up to a black fellow walking on the street. When they pulled down the window, the guy was visibly nervous. They simply asked the quickest way to the highway, the first thing he said was "you guys aren't from around here are you".


This kind of thing happened in the UK as well. Whites and blacks were completely blurred and had a totally integrated society together. But then, like in my example above with my area... Pakistani people satrted moving in at a large number. I think there was a political reason why... but the racism towards those people was jaw dropping. You'd see an inter racial couple holding hands walking down the street, and then say some racial slur about an ethnic food restraunt as they walked by. It was a bit mind boggling.
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Gatekeeper3000 wrote:
"you better go, we don't want your kind here"

...I believe this was well back in the 70's.

These days I'd be shocked to hear anywhere in the US what your friend claims to have heard back in the 70s. Progress and such.

"You ain't from around here is ya boy?!"

I contend this is what the police said to me in Charlotte, NC earlier this decade but I'm probably misremembering it for dramatic effect.
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stagger lee wrote:
It's mind blowing. But then I think about how I thought most British people were before living there. Old, highly intelligent, constantly tea sipping, musty, crabby...
wait... wait... wait...
They AREN'T?!?!
My whole life has been one big lie.
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fightcitymayor wrote:
stagger lee wrote:
It's mind blowing. But then I think about how I thought most British people were before living there. Old, highly intelligent, constantly tea sipping, musty, crabby...
wait... wait... wait...
They AREN'T?!?!
My whole life has been one big lie.

But they do have bad teeth, right? Please tell me they have bad teeth.
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Diis wrote:
"Rather have a sister in a nigger whorehouse" was one quote. "Rock chuckers" was a term one guy used when describing his own National Guard service in the 1960s once he saw I had on an Army shirt and found out I'd served. "Niggerville" was a term I hadn't heard since hearing it from the lips of a fifth grade boy with a rat tale from a hardscrabble neck of rural Wilkes County growing up. And this wasn't from some old, stuck in his ways bigot either--that last particular term was used by somebody my age in casual conversation!
I love my old Army PT shirts, but wouldn't dare wear them outside with the word Army showing. Outside of military circles there are plenty of folks who take a bad view of our armed forces and some for good reason (being black and conscripted in the 60s is a understandable reason for hating the Army).
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fightcitymayor
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jarredscott78 wrote:
fightcitymayor wrote:
stagger lee wrote:
It's mind blowing. But then I think about how I thought most British people were before living there. Old, highly intelligent, constantly tea sipping, musty, crabby...
wait... wait... wait...
They AREN'T?!?!
My whole life has been one big lie.

But they do have bad teeth, right? Please tell me they have bad teeth.
Yes, I do have absolute certainty from valid sources that this is true:




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Diis wrote:
So unexpected (to this Southerner) from a place that wore blue during the War.


Racism will never die as long as ignorance exists... people need someone to blame or some way to deride that which they do not understand. Just like racism it is the same for marriage equality. Then there is that which is institutionalized... and BGG is a great example of that with its open-aired sexism.

As far as your South versus North... Boston had its race riots long after the civil war... my city Holyoke is 41% Latino and it holds the record for the most densely populated population of Puerto Ricans outside of Puerto Rico... Racism is very strong in Holyoke. The old school Irish will hurl their slurs when you get them one on one or you can simply wade through the bile of anonymous internet comments on the local newspaper forum. Nearby in Stafford Springs there is a KKK order. Worcester is the seat of the New England White Power group. Etc, etc... I really don't understand your surprise here.
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stagger lee wrote:
Yes, it's especially eye opening when you travel in the UK and find out that there is an "American stereotype" based on what people see in the movies. Wear bright colors, talk loud, are all highly political, are all racist, all carry guns, all have supermodel girlfriends...


I would have narrowed it down. I don't think the supermodel girlfriend is part of any stereotype I've seen. The racist with guns is part of a specialised stereotype, the redneck. I've never met one. The other parts are a stereotype that does exist, sometimes found with a camera in tourist attractions. And of course it's the being loud bit (in two different ways) that makes him or her stand out and become the stereotype. But the Americans I have known and do know are of course a widely varying group of people. (Overall I've spent a bit over a year of my life in the USA, so that is quite a few people.)

Quote:
But then I think about how I thought most British people were before living there. Old, highly intelligent, constantly tea sipping, musty, crabby...


I don't like tea.
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Dearlove wrote:
stagger lee wrote:
Yes, it's especially eye opening when you travel in the UK and find out that there is an "American stereotype" based on what people see in the movies. Wear bright colors, talk loud, are all highly political, are all racist, all carry guns, all have supermodel girlfriends...


I would have narrowed it down. I don't think the supermodel girlfriend is part of any stereotype I've seen. The racist with guns is part of a specialised stereotype, the redneck.


I was working in a record shop while I was over there, so many of the stereotypes I was dealing with involved young people, so I could see why they might take things to an extreme. Oh, and I certainly understood where some of them were coming from. I blended in pretty well as I kept to myself and wore similar styles of clothing that they did there at the time... but I'd be out and about with other American friends and they'd bring attention to themselves just with the simple act of having conversations.

Of course one time I used that to an advantage... I had an extra concert ticket and was at the show alone... I had a kid ask if he could buy it. But he wanted me to follow him to where his "friends" were so he could get the money. He was visibly nervous about it, so I kind of played up the stereotypes (I had lived there for about a year already). I kept a hand in my coat pocket and when he asked where I was from, I said "CHICAGO!" as I sauntered like some New York stereotypical tough guy. He whips around, visibly sweating, produces the money he said he didn't have and said "Oh look here, I have it, THANKS!" and ran off. I was fairly sure I was going to be jumped, as he took me down some questionable alleyway. And to be fair, it could have REALLY gone the opposite direction and got my ass kicked because of it... but I really felt like knowing how Americans where viewed by the kids of the area helped be potentially save my bacon.

Of course to be fair, I could have scared the crap out of a perfectly nice kid! But at least he got a good deal on the ticket.
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I have heard it said, and what I've seen of this country, I believe it, that those communities that are the most homogeneous are the most racist (and this extends to religion, sexual orientation, and every other sort of difference you can imagine among people).

Everyone there has been brought up with everyone else being exactly like them -- appearance, belief, custom. As humans, we think our way is best. After all, if it weren't best, why would we do it? If something different comes along, we feel that our way is threatened, and so we devise slurs to show that the other way is inferior.

I'm not saying that this is the way things should be (far from it!), but I am explaining it as I see it. The more diverse the society, the more accepting of differences individuals are. If society is diverse, we can see that our way of life is not threatened. That we're more alike than we imagine. And that others who look, act, or believe differently have valid opinions and customs, too.

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Dearlove wrote:


Quote:
But then I think about how I thought most British people were before living there. Old, highly intelligent, constantly tea sipping, musty, crabby...


I don't like tea.


and you're not that old ...

I remember when ...
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I'm much more surprised by the fact that GROgnad apparently is able to write in a much more accessible way.
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Cracker please.


Actually, your assessment of neighborhoods of Cincy sounds like Jersey. A friend once described it as the most diverse and most segregated state in the union. South Orange aside, I couldn't agree more.
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