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March 4, 2017

Racist Story

After eight years with a half-black President, and after the election of a current President who many people claim is being supported by an undercurrent of racism, I've heard a lot of talk about race. Often, people will precede their opinions by stating that they're "not a racist." 

Well good on them, but I can't honestly make that claim. I am a racist. I'll share with you two stories of my racism. 

Story #1
This took place in early 2012 - I remember the time clearly because it was the only busy season that I worked for a small accounting firm in Las Vegas (since most tax returns are due either March 15 or April 15, a tax "busy season" usually takes place between late January and April 15). 

One of our clients was a wealthy married couple. I didn't prepare their tax return, but I knew that the husband worked in insurance and made amazing money. One day, my boss asked me to drive to this client's house to do some boring accounting stuff on his computer. I looked at his tax info to prepare, and I collected the following information, which was the only information that I knew about the man and his wife:

1. They did, indeed, make crazy money from his work in insurance.
2. They had very normal American names (Mr. and Mrs. Smith).

Armed with the above info, I drove to this married couple's house. Of course, given their income and wealth, they lived in a fancy-ass gated neighborhood surrounding a golf course. The houses were beautiful. I parked my crappy Corolla and rang the doorbell. 

A black lady answered and for a second, I honestly thought that she might have been the maid. I caught myself before doing/saying something truly stupid, and I politely asked "Mrs. Smith?"

Yeah, it was her. She greeted me with a smile and invited me in to her fancy ass rich person house. Mr. Smith, who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year selling insurance and who was several skin tones darker than Obama, shook my hand and walked me to his home office. I handled my boring accounting work, exchanged a few words of polite conversation, and left. 

That's it. The whole story. 

The point for me was this - when the ONLY information I had about the couple was the fact that they were rich, lived in a fancy neighborhood, and had normal American names - it never crossed my mind to think that they could possibly be black. I just assumed they would be white, and my presumption was so strongly drilled into my head that I was surprised when a black woman answered the door. 

Story #2 later. Thanks for reading.

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