When Racism Isn’t Racism: Part I

As a teenager, I was naive enough to think that if I ignored racism, it would just go away. That if I refused to talk about it, if I refused to give any sort of weight to it, it would wither and die back and the world would eventually become a better place. I am an adult now (at least, that is what my official papers say) and as for the world becoming a better place, all I can say is that when I want one thousand and one miracles, I’ll just go right ahead and ask for them. About racism, well…it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in a hurry.

When it happens in a tube somewhere in Eastern Europe, you take it in your stride. When a middle-aged white dude stands up and relocates to the aisle as soon as you sit down next to him, you say to yourself, ‘It doesn’t matter…I’m on his turf…and he probably thinks I’m sponging on his tax money’. You are not justifying. You are not rationalising. You are just dealing with. When a bunch of KKK devotees roughs your roommate up, he says to you, ‘Hey, man, it could have been worse. At least I’m still alive, right?’ He, too, is just dealing with. You both acknowledge that you don’t have the home ground advantage. It’s an away match. If stuff like that had happened back home, you console each other, things would have ended quite differently. How differently, you can’t tell. You just know it would all end differently. Except it doesn’t. Even at home, especially at home, we take it lying down. Sometimes, we gloss over it—pencil it in as a misdemeanour. Continue reading