Chip on some blacks’ shoulders?

I am a black woman who has lived in the west for many years.  I like it a lot here – there are more of life’s conveniences and there are no electricity black outs.  I appreciate and enjoy the lifestyle I live.  There are also some disadvantages of living in a country which is racially different from you, in spite of all the good things offered to me.  One of those things is racism.  I have written about racism before in this post.

However, sometimes I think that some of us blacks tend to suspect any white person who does something out of the ordinary to be racist because of our previous experiences.  I will give an example.  I went to the main public library today where I regularly borrow books.  When I got off the train, I decided to take the elevator up along with others.  One elderly white man came to the elevator but for whatever reason, did not enter.  An elderly black woman in the elevator asked if he was coming and he did not respond.

The lack of reaction from the man annoyed the woman who started saying some interesting things as we were going up – “You don’t want to take the elevator because we are blacks, Africans, N Word?  So you can’t stand us?  You think you are better than us?  You will see!  I will catch you.”  Let me mention here that there were six people in the elevator in total – three blacks and three whites.

I wondered how the woman could have known that the man was racist.  Did she have a previous encounter with him?  Had the man said something racist that I did not hear?  Maybe the man just did not want to share the elevator with many people.  Who knows?  I assumed that the woman just had a chip on her shoulder and so her first thought about the man was to scream “Racist!”.  Fortunately or unfortunately, the man of course, did not hear this monologue.

I have seen similar reactions from some of my fellow blacks who always assume that they are being targeted racially.  I find it really tiring because sometimes the non-blacks either really don’t know something (e.g. someone said she hadn’t known before that Africans’ palms and soles of their feet are lighter colored that other parts of their bodies) or are trying to help (e.g. one Viennese warned an African to watch out because the part of woods she would be going to had snakes).  In both cases my African sisters were offended, but I personally did not see any issue.

One thing I have learnt is not to assume racism unless it is either blatant otherwise I will not live a happy life.  Maybe I am just being fussy over nothing or not fully tuned to racist vibes, I don’t know.  I just think we should take it easy sometimes.


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Al
    Jan 07, 2016 @ 23:17:17

    One of your commenters advanced a theory about a hearing problem. As a 72 year-old man who is hearing “challenged” I tend to agree with this possibility. I have been embarrassed on many an occasion by responding inappropriately to something I “think” i heard, but was hearing incorrectly. Sometimes, I don’t even realize someone has asked me a question, so I don’t respond. It must seem rude to them.

    In any case, the best rule of thumb is to give the benefit of doubt, unless of course, it is an unmistakable case of a direct affront to someone. Having said that, as a Caucasian, I can only imagine what difficulties you face as a minority and pray that you will maintain the good attitude you have about the inherent goodness in most people. Bless you.


    • Zambian Lady
      Jan 08, 2016 @ 09:09:55

      It is interesting to hear your point of view. I need to remember that myself next time I speak to the ‘wiser’ generation and not take for granted that they are ignoring me. I am finding that not always assuming helps me have less ugly or depressing thoughts.


  2. earthriderjudyberman
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 00:20:36

    Excellent observations, Zambian Lady. Sometimes no offense is intended.

    My Mom raised me to treat people by how they treat me. I knew that she had been deeply hurt by another relative and, yet, she still gave that advice to me. If we see people as individuals rather than as a group, we might have a happier experience overall.


  3. Bill
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 11:43:12

    I enjoyed your perspective on this. Thanks for sharing it. It is so easy to unintentionally give offense these days, in part because of an atmosphere created by those who seem to enjoy being offensive, and perhaps in part, as you suggest, because we are too quick to assume the worst about our fellow humans.


    • Zambian Lady
      Dec 16, 2015 @ 11:49:55

      I think that we (that is people in general) seem to get easily offended nowadays. Sometimes, it is better to just let things go without reading between non-existent lines.


  4. Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow
    Dec 15, 2015 @ 18:23:05

    He was probably deaf and had forgotten his hearing aid and didn’t hear her : ) This was a great post and my theory is the same as hers…theory. It sounds as if that woman has had a hard life with many injustices and has a great deal of bitterness stored up 😦


  5. Minuscule Moments
    Dec 14, 2015 @ 19:19:34

    Thanks for telling your side of the story. I guess if these people have had bad experiences it would be hard to trust people. Everyone reacts a certain way due to their past experiences. In Australia we would warn people if we are bushwalking and have seen a snake. So Im not sure why this is offensive pardon my ignorance. Sadly there are many racists in this world and even at school my daughter came home one day shocked at what some of the children were saying to other kids. It starts with the family unit and what you teach your children. Have a great day.


    • Zambian Lady
      Dec 15, 2015 @ 16:33:51

      I don’t know either why someone would be offended to be warned. I, for one, wish I had been warned about possibility of seeing snakes in the Austrian woods as I almost died of shock when we came across one. I had just assumed that there are no snakes in Austria because of the cold weather, but I was wrong.


      • Minuscule Moments
        Dec 17, 2015 @ 22:23:33

        Yes it can be quite confronting but they are more scared of us. I still get nervous when I see one and have had them at the back door in summer, so I open it very carefully.

  6. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread
    Dec 11, 2015 @ 14:36:06

    I think we can see what we want to see in some cases. Today’s new reports puts people of all ages, sexes, races, nationalities into boxes and it sometimes rubs off on the public. I happen to be classified as white but fall into what they type us as ‘senior citizens.’ When I am waiting for customer service at a retail store, I’ve started to notice that they tend to wait on younger people first. I’ve begun to wonder if anyone with gray or white hair is invisible. But, you summed it up correctly – if one looks for bias they won’t be happy. I choose happy every day so when they start to wait on that other person I find my smile and a friendly voice and inform them I was next. 🙂 Have a great day.


    • Zambian Lady
      Dec 14, 2015 @ 10:56:20

      It is a shame when certain people, older people included, are sidelined. I know how it feels like to be overlooked because of the group you belong to, but I like the way you handle the situations you find yourself in. There is usually no need to get worked up – quiet words do get the job done.


  7. anotherday2paradise
    Dec 09, 2015 @ 22:13:35

    I think you’re so right. If a lift arrived with six or seven people already in it, whatever their colour, I’d probably opt to wait for the next one. 😃


  8. leggypeggy
    Dec 09, 2015 @ 22:04:28

    Wise words. People assume way too many things (often negative) about people they don’t know.


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