Anecdotes on Racism Reveal Awkwardness and Tension

Moments of questionable racism highlight the social complexities of America.

July 20, 2017 10:32 am
Does race play a role in which pedestrians think they have right of way? (Getty Images)
Does race play a role in which pedestrians think they have right of way? (Getty Images)

Racism can be blatant or subtle and even misperceived, sometimes.

Prejudicial moments can reveal a lot about the individuals, their perspectives, and the culture of the society they’re apart of. A recent New York Times column—aptly named: “Was That racist?”— recounted situations where people were left questioning the role of prejudice.

A New Yorker named Greg, who considers himself to be a courteous pedestrian, finds that white women expect him to yield the right of way while other pedestrians are as mutually respectful as him. Was this intentional? As an African American man, he wondered why he defers to the expectation of white women in this subtle moment. To confirm his suspicion, George asked his friends that were also black, who confirmed similar experiences. Another friend, an Asian male, said the same thing happened to him, but with white men.

Other anecdotes from the New York Times column explored similar social complexities. One involves a job recruiter’s email software incorrectly filling the “Name” field with data the “Race” field on its internal spreadsheets. Another anecdote talked about the confusion of not being served tortilla chips, which upended the author’s perceived sense of cultural alliance.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.