>The Accidental Racist.

>An interesting thing happened the other day when I went for a mani-pedi. I decided to go back to a spot that’s a little closer to me than the one I normally go to. I used to go to this one on occasion, but got into the habit of going to the other one. Anyway, I hadn’t been to this one in at least a year, so there were some new technicians I didn’t recognize.

So I’m sitting in the massage chair, deeply immersed in the magazine I’m reading as the woman works on my feet. Admittedly, this is one of the very few moments in life when I become a bit classist, meaning I don’t really want to break the fourth wall between me and the person servicing me. Whenever I go in for spa treatments, massages, whatever, I don’t like to be bothered by the staff. I just want to disappear into my moment of relaxation and be done. But I had a technician I’d never seen before who insisted on talking, and this is how she began our conversation:

“You different.”

(startled from my magazine) “Excuse me?”

“You different. You not like other black people.”

(closing my magazine, wondering wtf?) “Really.”


“Yes. You nice. Very nice. I was just talking to my co-worker about how nice you are.”


(Hmmm. So that’s what y’all were saying a few minutes ago when you were speaking a language I didn’t understand, looked at me, then busted up laughing.)


“Yes. You very nice. Very different. Not like black at all. Very nice. Very nice.”

“Umph.” (…disappearing back into my magazine…)

I’m sure she might have meant well, but telling someone they’re not like the rest of their race isn’t exactly the way to do it. It didn’t make me angry, just sort of sad for the cultural divides that will always keep us apart somehow.

Oh well. At least she was true to her* people, and hooked my feet up something lovely. Check ’em out.

I was pleased. The red nail polish went quite well with my lovely red shoes.



*I was being ironic making a stereotypical comment about “her” people. Merely saying it for dramatic effect. Seriously.

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15 thoughts on “>The Accidental Racist.

  1. >enuff about zipperhead….yo toes looks scrumpt…dipped in honey and coconut…ooooooh wee!!!!!!(;-P~~~~just kiddin' y'all…i'm quite sure that the mani-pedicurist didn't mean no harm, more igg'nant than anything else….maybe next time you should feed her, her OWN medicine. like "YOU people are good with nails and toes" "why YOU people smile all the time?" "do YOU people eat RATS with yo' RICE?"i gar-run-tee, she'll change her conversation…but tell her this AFTER she done yo' toesies!

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  2. >I was about to say, Lance. I am always kind to people who get my food before I do and people who have sharp instruments that have the potential to inflict plain and draw blood.That said, the subext of the conversation was that Lo is, indeed, different from the stereotypes that the woman and her co-workers have come across. Lo is polite and probably used a couple of thank yous and pleases while there and didn't grunt, roll her eyes, and pop her neck when one of them spoke to her.Unfortunately, we (the bigger we) all look for the "new nigger" in our socieity so that we can treat them in the rude manner we were treated. It's sort of like hazing in a fraternity. The unfortunate thing is that most of the new niggers have surived, thrived, and surpassed the original niggers and we end up just being that — the same ole niggers.DISCLAIMER: The views expresseed here are purely those of the author of this post and in no way reflects on our blog host. (I am convinced Big Brother is watching)Post-Post — Damn, Lo, where you going with them CFM pumps on?

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  3. >I'd have to say that I agree with Juan, especially when you look at things on a broader level. We have looked for the "new nigger" and we have found them in those of latin and asian decent. The sad part is that Juan's other observation is also true; they have survived, thrived and surpassed us as a whole. Maybe it's because they do what we don't do; play dumb when they hear someone talking that dumb "spit" to them. They smile like Step and Fetchit, shake their heads in the negative and say "no speaka no english". In the meantime, they are racking up the dollars (quite a bit of ours, since we love to consume). Also, as quiet as kept, there are a lot of foreigners buying up houses and land all across America, while we are trying to move into the new apartment community in the "good neighborhood" across town. We would do well to pick up a book our two and figure out how to get in the game without being taken in the process. So, Lo, they are right, you ARE different, not like black at all. Like some of the other present company on this site. You are doing the damn thing and you don't use race, the man, or any other obstacle as an excuse not to make things happen. To tell you the truth, they gave you a compliment. Again, like Juan said, they probably meant you aren't like some of the rude, want something for nothing, argumentative, non-tipping clients that they usually have to deal with. However, I understand why you instinctively didn't want to be cast aside from the cultural group, it's because we have been programmed to think that we should try and keep our "Ghetto Pass" no matter how far we go in life. Maybe losing it is not as bad as we have been led to believe. I'm not saying we forget where we come from. I'm just saying, don't feel obligated to be bound by cultural lines all your life. Just be who you are, unapologetically. That also doesn't mean you try and be someone you aren't by relating to another culture. It simply means, just be yourself. If by doing that, someone recognizes that you aren't like a lot of other people, then it's all good, because contrary to popular opinion, we don't all look alike or act alike. Of course, somewhere along the way someone will try and make you think that you are no better than any other ole nigger out there, because of the color of your skin. When that happens, just smile, shake your head in the negative and say -No speaka no bullshit, throw them the peace sign and bounce.

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  4. >Ahhh, Sukie, Sukie now. Lance, I am in agreement with most of what you say (a good disagreement is nice) but I am not sure I follow your stream in response to SRF.If I am reading it correct, SRF is talking about keeping it real (or not) in the face of moving on up, but you seem to dreg up our history in this country which is all true. However, in response to what that means in determining where we go, I am not sure I am following.I hardly ever, ever quote Al Sharpton but the one thing he has said that I can say is true to the bone is, why would we expect the same person who oppressed us to lift us up? In other words, sisters and brothers need to take Annie Lenox's advice and "do it for themselves."Interestingly, a friend and I are putting together a documentary titled Black and White: What I Miss About Segregation. We're interviewing persons at least 65 years of age (Blacka and White) across the country to see what they actually miss about segregation. We then plan to use that as a spring board to start open dialogue about the current state of race relations on this country and some of the misperceptions associated with it.But back to your comments. Yes, those things have happened and yes we still keep getting edged out but what are we going to do to survive and thrive? Sure I can point to many people who are doing it. Damn, I think I am doing it myself in my little world. I personally know 20 or 30 African American millionaires all in the DC area who are making it rain every day. They are not high profile, they are not flashy. They just go about doing what they do — staying one step ahead of the game.To quote you, i'on kno' I look at my children and the advantages they have and know they will be okay when I am gone. Fortunately, there is a legacy to pass on but I long for the day when the "pull up from the boot straps" story is the norm and not the exception.Dang, brother, this would have been a good conversation to have over a good ole plate of soul food.You know I luv you man, and every thing I say comes from a spirit of love.

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  5. >one day, i'mma have to roll down south on i-95 and we'll sit down, break bread and chat a'spell…what i'm mostly referring to is "perception", "cause and effect"….i could have gotten off the path with RSF, but overall….effects from our past. like you said:Yes, those things have happened and yes we still keep getting edged out but what are we going to do to survive and thrive? personally, i think we are thriving but the "perception" seems to have us thinking we're not. 15+ millions of us, can't be wrong. and keep in mind, they will always be po' black people. period.on your documentary project:that sounds like a winner…need anymore subjects? my ol' man has much to say….he'll be 66 on august 24th, grew up in the segregated south and so on…

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  6. >Lance, thanks for the history lesson, makes me want to do a search and read up on some of that. As a matter of fact, I think I will. In the meantime, remember that for the most part, we aren't talking about po-pocket black folks, but po-minded black folks. I know the media does a job on us, but we don't have to perpetuate the stereotypes. Besides, isn't that what the pedicurist commented on in the first place, how Lo didn't fit the prevailing image that she was accustomed to experiencing from people of color? I have to borrow from Chris Rock for a minute, because it's not the media that causes us to act in some of the unprogressive behavior that we see out here. We make those choices for ourselves. Maybe what the media really does is help us continue to use them as a scapegoat. I also agree that we aren't doing all bad, I never meant to give that impression. We have had an upheal climb, no doubt about that. I don't think any other cultural group has to put up with what we do, simply for the fact that they "see" us coming. However, we can't control them, but we can control what we do and sometimes I think we just do it to ourselves. There will always be a remnant among our people that are making things happen. (ie. Carter G. Woodson's The Talented Tenth) but that doesn't excuse the rest of our people from not trying. Maybe old Bill Cosby was right. Maybe some of our folks aren't living up to their end of the deal. Maybe we need to stop holding on to the pain of slavery and just take this thing over, cause we got the know how, and we got the loot. What we need to find is the balls to set some of our people straight and stop accepting lame excuses for ill behavior. Lastly, we have to remember that our ability to "come up" has absolutely nothing to do with things being equal. We will get everything we have coming to us, but we can't trip off how the next man is getting his, even if he is getting it illegally or via gov't assistance. We are creative beings and the more we experience pressure the more creative we become. It's how the refiner's fire works. Which leads me to my last point. Maybe we just don't put our brother's feet to the fire enough, maybe we, by not mentoring, pushing, pulling or motivating them to do better, allow them to succumb to what's easy. The media may be there, but they have to get their material from somewhere to make it believable, otherwise I wouldn't be getting all these emails of high schoolers going to proms looking like little ho's and pimps. But I guess the media is just once again portraying us in the wrong image, or maybe, just maybe their parents allow that lunacy to go on.

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  7. >Yo Juan, look up a cat called Fred Shuttlesworth, he lives in the Cincinnati Ohio area. He was down with King and Abernathy. As a matter of fact, he set up many of the sit-in's back in the 60's. Better yet, maybe I should hook you up with one of my boys who got a chance to interview him earlier this year. He spent an entire week with him. Check out Shuttlesworth's background – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Shuttlesworth

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