This definitely isn’t the most racist thing anyone’s ever said to me, but I have a funny story about it nonetheless. This actually just happened like, not even two hours ago.
So, I somehow ended up having a lengthy conversation with this guy on TinyChat who was a white supremacist. Amongst some of his less offensive opinions was the idea that he could tell what race somebody was based on their typing style and the way they thought. Well, I was typing to him, and I was also on webcam, so he had a bit of an advantage: I challenged him, in all of his infinite wisdom and with the aid of his stunning intellect and extensive education, to guess what race I was. I gave him an additional hint by informing him that I was biracial.
“Well, I can tell two things for sure,” he said. “For one, the part of you that’s white is definitely Celtic. And for two, the part of you that isn’t white is definitely NOT black.”
My mom is German. My dad is black.
(I say “black” instead of “Zimbabwean” or “Somali” because I don’t know what part of Africa my dad’s family is from. Like many other black families in North America, they were brought here against their will and sold into slavery. My dad’s family doesn’t even know their real last names, which I find incredibly sad and depressing. The only memento we have - the only hint that our African roots are more than just a vague nostalgia for the way that the sun looks when it rises, bright and orange, across a grassy plain - is an extremely old necklace made from beads, bone, iron, and the claws of a lion. It’s been passed down from grandfather to grandson, from generation to generation, for at least the last three hundred years.)
As for the most racist thing anyone has ever said to me, uh.. apart from being occasionally called a “half-niggerette”, or having a white person demand that I “choose” whether I’m black or white.. probably just all the times that I’ve witnessed people having racist reactions towards my dad or my friend Christian. It’s not the big things; it’s all of the hundreds and thousands of little things, the covert reactions that are so small that they seem insignificant by themselves. Every time someone - almost always a white person - tries to explain to me that racism doesn’t exist, and that the racist events experienced by black people are a result of “paranoia” and “self-oppression” (?!?!), I roll my eyes so hard that I’m in constant danger of permanently spraining my optic nerve. Every time I watch my dad (but never my mom or her white boyfriend) being “randomly” pulled over by a cop “just to make sure” he wasn’t doing anything illegal, or that my brother and I aren’t his criminal associates; every time I enter a store with my friend Christian and two of our other friends (who are all white) and witness the cashier put a dozen people on hold at the cash register in order to “coincidentally” follow only my black friend around the store in order to make sure he wasn’t stealing anything; every time I’ve had a law enforcement officer come up to me while I was walking with my dad and ask me if I’m okay or if this man (my dad) was trying to hurt me; every time I’ve gotten into mischief with my group of friends, been caught, and had a cop automatically assume that, out of the half-dozen of us, it must have been my black friend who did it; every time that I have to hear a story from my dad about going on a date with a white woman and having her tell him that she’s “always wanted to have sex with a black man before”, and have to watch the disappointment on his face when he realizes that, once more, here’s yet another woman who regards him as some sort of taboo sexual experience instead of as a potential romantic partner; every time that I have to see the pleasantly surprised looks on black peoples’ faces when they find out I’m mixed, and the looks of shock, confusion, or occasionally revulsion on white peoples’ faces; every time I take the bus with my friend Christian and have to endure twenty uncomfortable minutes of crotchety old white women staring at us like she can’t believe we’d have the audacity to engage in *gasp* an interracial friendship in public, and shaking their heads like we’re some kind of ten-armed mutant; every time I have to hear yet another heart-breaking story from my Nana or my dad about one of the many times that my dad was beaten, taunted, bullied, mocked, and picked on just for having been a black kid in the 50s; every time I have to see the look of disappointment and rage on my dad’s face when he hears another minority using the word “nigga”, because he doesn’t understand why a young black man would feel comfortable throwing around a word that he grew up only hearing while he was being beaten by white cops for being black; every time I have to listen to my (German) Opa rant at our annual Christmas Eve family gathering about his personal pet theory that, actually, white people were the original homo sapiens who then “bred” black people into existence; and every single fucking time that I have to explain to my mom that no, it’s not appropriate to joke that my brother looks like “a little nigger” after he’s been out in the sun for too long; no, not even if she’s joking, and no, not even if she isn’t racist and didn’t mean anything by it.
So while the most racist thing that anyone’s ever said to me hasn’t, objectively, been all that bad.. I see racism in a million different ways, in a million different scenarios. I see it all the way from Tumblr blogs dedicated to discussing the opinion that biracial children are genetically inferior, all the way to the fact that the only United States president who has ever been accused of lying about his country of birth was, coincidentally, the black one. Racism is a million different faces, both covert and overt, subtle and obvious. So, what’s the most racist thing that anybody’s ever said to me?
"Racism doesn’t exist anymore."