Sunday, July 30, 2017

Racist Walking?

In a recent NYT column, a black man described his experiences with white women on the sidewalks.

There are many times in a day when a person is walking toward me and in my path. In these situations, we both generally make minor adjustments upon our approach. Sometimes, and especially with pedestrians who are black, as I am, there's eye contact or even a nod. Almost always, we shift our bodyweight or otherwise detour to make the pass easier for the other. Walking courteously doesn't take much, just soup├žons of spatial awareness, foresight and empathy. In seven years of living and walking here, I've found that most people walk courteously — but that white women, at least when I'm in their path, do not.

Sometimes they're buried in their phones. Other times, they're in pairs and groups, and in conversation. But often, they're looking ahead, through me, if not quite at me. When white women are in my path, they almost always continue straight, forcing me to one side without changing their course. This happens several times a day; and a couple of times a week, white women force me off the sidewalk completely. In these instances, when I'm standing in the street or in the dirt as a white woman strides past, broad-shouldered and blissful, I turn furious.

So white women are racist.

Or... maybe the author sees racism where it doesn't exist. He goes on to say that he asked other black men and one Asian man about it. The black men said that it had happened to them, the Asian man said that white women made way for him but white men didn't.

There's one group that was omitted from that small sample - white men. Being a white man, I'll take the liberty of offering an answer. Yes, it happens to us, too. I've had it happen several times.

I'm going out on a limb here but I'm going to take a wild guess that he didn't ask any white men because he didn't want to know the answer. He's part of a culture that ways that anything that he dislikes must be from racism. But it it happens to white men, too then that blows up his main point.

So, why would women refuse to recognize the men around her? Three years ago a video showed a woman walking through the streets of NYC and getting constant catcalls. Granted this was 10 hours of walking condensed down to a few minutes but it shows that even a woman who refuses to recognize the men around her gets hit on.

So, maybe, what the author saw as racism was a defense mechanism. But that draws all the wrong conclusions. It places the blame on men. Instead of being part of an oppressed group, he becomes one of the oppressor class. And what fun is that?



No comments: