Posted on: April 10, 2013
I’ve been lucky, my current circle of friends are an amazing bunch of folks from a wide variety of races, ethnicities, sexual orientation and gender presentation. I think it’s because of this diversity that they’re aware of privilege; both the privilege they have and the privilege they don’t have. It’s been a long while since I’ve heard really offensive things out of the mouth of my friends, but have lots of memories of not-so-exciting comments. Unlike Crystal, when I was compared me to a celebrity (presumably this stranger’s only black person of reference) it was Oprah. Not that there’s anything wrong with Lady O. I’d take her over Beyonce any day!
This was back in 1998 when I was drinking away my freshmen year at the University of Dayton. I was at a house party in the “ghetto”, Dayton’s student neighborhood, drinking with my ballerina friend. A drunk guy came up to me and slurred something about me reminding him of Oprah and my ballerina friend, as quick as a whip, said, “Why because she’s black!?” Then to me, “Geez, does he not know any other black women?”
No. No, apparently he didn’t.
Since growing out my hair I’ve gotten several requests to touch my it, I used to have guys tell me that they’ve never been with a black woman, but haven’t gotten as much subtle racism lately-except if you count people accusing me of being a self-hating Jew for calling our issues of race and racism within Judaism…but that’s another story. Reading Crystal Sykes’ (hey Crystal I want to be your friend!) piece this morning made me smile.
I smiled because I was amused: “[Fill in with something about chicken.]” But chicken is so good!
I smiled because I I could relate: “You know, Crystal, you’re black, but you’re not black black.” Heard that before.
I’ve shared it on Facebook and Twitter and it’s gotten a few shares so far. I didn’t think I needed to preface it with, “Thank Gd I don’t have friends like this” because I hope my friends, my real friends, know that. For the folks who wonder Have I said that to Erika (or any other black woman)? Hopefully they’ve learned something.