Thursday, April 26, 2007

Am I One of "Them?"

Here recently, on the People Poll, there has been a lot of conversation on "The Black Effect." Apparently, homeowners are complaining that realtors are asking them to remove "personal" effects from their homes (which on the surface, doesn't seem uncommon right?) before they show them. Well some African-American families have shared that this has had an affect on who will buy their homes, and think that in essence the realtors are asking them to "de-Black" their homes to make them more appealing.

So, of course, there was an influx of calls about this issue...the shocking surprise is that some of them presented cases that were CLEAR EVIDENCE that this IS in fact a racial issue and that many realtors do this!!! The host of the show went on to talk about how he had been talking on the phone for weeks with a Radio Producer in Richmond, VA that showed him nothing but respect and admiration over the phone, but when they finally met face to face, he REFUSED to even shake his hand, and treated him like scum because he "realized" that he was Black.

You know this is a problem! I have shared with you all my experience in my professional life...where a boss of mine told me, "Tera, I don't know how you're going to take this, but you do not SOUND like a Black woman on the phone, nor do you LOOK like a Black woman on paper, so as you advance in your professional life, expect some reactions to that..." I never felt the real effect of that until in my relocation I conducted a couple of phone interviews where I was 100% confident based on verbal feedback that I had the job, hands down...only to travel over 300 miles, walk in the room, and the interviewer GASPED when he saw me...I didn't get the job.

One caller said something very thought provoking..."We ALL have our own little prejudices...we just don't realize it." As always fellow bloggers, I had to "look at self," and do some evaluation, and it dawned on me when I called one of my creditors, and was ticked because someone of Asian decent answered the phone in Customer Service and not only did I have to keep repeating myself, but I couldn't understand a word SHE was saying!

Do we all have that? Are we willing to openly confess that and candidly talk about it or do we keep it to ourselves? Am I wrong because I had to ponder (for a long time) taking my children to a gathering we were invited to because I had been there without my children before and wasn't too sure how well they would interact with the children that lived there (Projects)? Now by NO STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION do I think I'm better than anyone, and will NEVER forget where I came from, so what is that???

PLEASE share any experiences you have had...and please someone out there, let me know what this really is!!!


Rey said...

I think we would all be kidding ourselves if we believed we lived in a world WITHOUT biases or that we didn't have our own biases. Our personal bias may come in many forms: maybe it's some one who speaks differently than us, maybe it's someone who has a disability, or lives in a specific neighborhood. But we all have them and it's my opinion that no bias is any less harmful than another.

As a young professional you know how often we are over looked because either our sex, race or age. Yes, it's all illegal, but it's reality. Let me share a story....last month I went to my local wireless carrier and put my name on the waiting list. I quickly noticed that they sent me to the longest line, but wasn't too concerned about it. You see I had just left the gym and was in a sweatsuit, tennis shoes and was having a "bad hair" day. By the time I got up to the line, I realized that they put me in the line with the interpreter!!!!!!! Yes, it was assumed because of the way I looked that I did not speak English. I WAS OFFENDED! Was I offended that it was assumed that I required special accomodations and I was pretty sure that if I had walked in there with a business suit, those assumptions may not have been made. For those of you who know me....I almost got escorted out of there AGAIN!!! LOL

Something to think about:
"The horror of class stratification, racism, and prejudice is that some people begin to believe that the security of their families and communities depends on the oppression of others, that for some to have good lives there must be others whose lives are truncated and brutal. " ~Dorothy Allison

Tera said...

Rey~OMG! Are you serious?! That would have been enough for me to fight! I'm surprised you didn't go off on them (and get escorted out again :)!!! Ha! Now that I'm thinking about the other incident, and some phone convo I've heard you have with them, maybe it's time to switch carriers?! LOL!

You make a very excellent points...who are we kidding? We ALL have them in some shape or form. Of course however, some people are more hurtful and destructive about theirs.

The quote...profound. I would love to see some response to that in this post as well!!!

Nance said...

It's true, and we all do have them. And I think the fact that this post has so few comments shows that. It's just like Atticus Finch says in the book To Kill a Mockingbird that there's "a secret court in men's hearts". Whether it's from personal experience or just from an inherent prejudice, we have some preconceived ideas that govern our actions. If our day-to-day interaction with a certain group has been negative, we tend to think that all interactions with that sort of people will probably be negative and act accordingly. On a more biased basis, if we are raised to believe that a specific group is inherently bad, we will simply believe that and act accordingly. I think the two instances are different, however, in degree.

Tera said...

Nance~I think you're absoutely one ever wants to openly admit any biases or prejudices. They are afraid of the hasty generalizations that are inherent in doing so.

I think Finch is right...preconceived notions (at times-I will not say that it is most of the time for people) do tend to govern our actions.

Anali said...

It's true that we do all have biases and prejudices. Sometimes I wonder if it's good to tell them though. I've had people tell me that certain people they know are racist against blacks, but then I have to interact with them. It makes it very odd. Sometimes I would rather that they did not tell me. It's one thing if the person "shows themself" by acting out, but another if I just suddenly have this different attitude towards them and they don't know why.

Nina said...

We ALL think certain things about certain people. My heart races a bit at the airport when I see someone I believe to be of Middle Eastern decent and quickly I check my carry-on to make sure I've packed my happy pills. If someone's going to highjack the plane, I'm at least going to be in blissfull state of mind! I know it's awful, but true.
As far as the house thing goes...I believe it! Furthermore, I was able to guess, correctly, the nationality of the people who previously owned my house by the paint color choices in my bedroom. Again, sad but true. We have to remember that a lot of stereotypes (which often turn into prejudices)are based on cultural traditions. For example...all black people like fried chicken. I have yet to go to a family gathering, outside of Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas, where there is not a delicious spread of fried chicken :) HA!!

Tera said...

Anali~You bring up a good point. Perhaps it's NOT a good idea to know what certain people's biases/stereotypes are. One of my co-workers at my new job told me that our Director is racist! And do you know what, I think he is EXCELLENT and really enjoy working for him, but there is now a certain amout of paranoia when I'm around him because I find myself looking for "signs."

Nina~A lot of stereotypes ARE based on cultural traditions...those are some of the more "mild" biases. Honestly, I don't have a problem with people "assuming" that I love fried chicken and kool-aid, because I do!!!! Yum :) But when I have other races tell me that I'm "articulate..." know that the rest of that sentence is "...for a Black person..." that's when it gets hurtful.

Lyle said...

Nina it's funny you've said that. Since 9/11 I can't tell you how many times I've been pulled out of line at the airport and had my bags checked. When I start talking with a thick ebonic accent then they start to

I don't like fake people so I'm of the mindset that I would rather know if a person is racist or not. Especially if I work with or for them. I would make it my personal mission to be in thier face as much as I can just to make them uncomfortable. Or to show them that their biases does not and will not ever effect how I treat them, nor how I live my life.

I truly have never understood racisim. Growing up as a bi-racial kid I got it from all sides. I've been called everything from nigger to cracker, and even spick a few times. I was always pressured to pick one side or another.I'm asked still to this day "what do I consider myself, black or white". Well here is the answer, both. I have definetly found my inner peace with this issue of race. I can't be offended by it anymore. I actually have fun with it now. I'll say something bad about blacks in front of a bunch of whites and watch them squrim. Or talk about how dumb hip hop is now around a bunch of blacks and have them looking at me like I'm a sell out or something. I know some might think its wrong, but lets just call it payback for years of confusion. Or maybe its a resulting pathology from the mental torture endured throughout my childhood. Either way its still fun and maybe I might shock somebody's sensibilities enough to make them start critically thinking!

Tera said...

Lyle~It must have been quite an experience for you to go through life like that...I mean we all have been "hit" by the terrible attacks, it's awful that you've had to combat adversity from BOTH sides of which you are characteristic!

"Critical thinking?" The sad truth about that is the number of people who actually engage are few and far between.