I know that racism is still alive and well today in America. Of course I try to imagine a world where it does not exist, but I know the truth. Prior to moving to a Yankee state, I had just assumed racism was rampant mostly in the south. Now though, I know that regardless of whether you are in the North or the South, racism is there.
Knowing that, I still tend to get surprised sometimes when I am abruptly bought back to real life views. For instance, I was just completely blown away at my local Taco Bell.
The manager, who identified herself as African American/Mexican, was having a conversation with another customer. The topic of their conversation was neighborhoods and suburbs of Chicago, or more precisely the fact that some area people tend to refer to Rolling Meadows as "Rolling Ghettos". He had used this expression to describe the community, and she was inquiring as to why people refer to it as a ghetto.
The customer stated that it is because of the different races that live here. The customer was obviously not a fan of any race other than white. This became quite clear when without hesitation he said, "There is a group N*****s where I work that is from this area."
It was at that moment that I started listening intensely. I was certain I did not here what I thought I had. However, it was confirmed that I did hear correctly when he continued his remarks by adding that not all the "blacks" were that way. He was gleeful when he added that they had a few "normal" ones that work with him as well.
I have to give kudos to the manager as she held her composure so well. The only thing she interjected was that she found that word "mildly offensive." I am sure she added the "mildly" purely because she did not want to risk the customer becoming irate or argumentative.
Kyle and I, overhearing the conversation, had to step in and interject. We agreed publicly that the word was offensive and worked together to pull the manager out of the conversation. Which she said she appreciated.
However, I am still left shaking my head that anyone believes using that word is okay. I am completely appalled that the customer did not stop to think who he was talking to. To be offensive is one thing, but to be offensive and use derogatory words is offensive on whole other level.
Of course, the thing that surprised me the most was that after he was called out on his choice of wording, he simply replied, "I did not mean it offensively." It was almost as if he was waiting for the manager and the rest of the restaurant to cheer him on for being such an upstanding citizen. I do not believe that he sees any fault in his language or behavior.
This saddens me as I had always assumed that racist people knew they were racist; however, now I am wondering if they are so ignorant, that they do not even know they are racist. Is that even possible?
Regardless, I am still shaking my head at this man. It is 2012 people! Get over it! Difference races exist. Let us all learn to co-exist.