Casual Racism

I was talking on the phone with someone yesterday, and I was surprised and dismayed to hear them making racial comments about others. What was said was something like “I’m not like those Mexicans, keeping several families in the same apartment and sharing the rent.” It really put me off. Its kind of like when I heard someone use the phrase “I Jewed him down” after haggling for a lower price. I have heard the second is more innocent, as it was a socially acceptable comment some time ago, but I’m not so sure. This isn’t like watching an old movie and someone says, “That’s awfully White of you” – this is a real person, right now, using that kind of phrase.

I know some think I don’t deserve to be or shouldn’t be offended by someone using this language, my being essentially a WASP, and all. (WASP=White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, though I wouldn’t say LDS is Protestant) To me, this equates to someone using foul language in front of me, or more especially, when talking to me. It makes me wince, hopefully obviously.

Anyway, back to the start. So long as they’re doing it within the law (honoring their lease agreements, etc), I don’t see anything wrong with many families living in a less than “American” optimal living space. There are many cultures where whole families sleep in the same room still. My family may need to think about living together to help offset the costs of housing, doing like I heard of an Asian family doing; four families living in the same house, buying four houses in the same time it would have cost to buy one, without paying much interest at all. This is just working together for a common goal.

When you start talking about people as “them”, as if they were something other than people with lives and troubles just like yours – watch out – you may be being put into a classification yourself – as a racist.

(reprinted from my old MySpace blog, 15 Apr 2006)

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