Monday, March 31, 2008

Racism on Parade

Well it's Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers, so that naturally means an influx of sports-loving suburbanites rolling into downtown, acting like drunk assholes and leaving their trash behind them.

One of the weird things about being a white male who can pass for straight (when I try really hard) is that other white people feel more at liberty to say their secret white-people things to me. Such as this evening, following the Tiger's game. I sequestered myself away in a non-sports venue, although it was not entirely sport-fan-free.

As I sat there, minding my own business and reading the paper a guy started talking to me. He was down from St. Clair Shores for opening day bar-hopping with a friend. He saw Barack Obama in the paper I was reading and asked me what I thought of him. So I told him, in vague terms (I like to keep it light with strangers) that I thought he was pretty amazing, but I also have a lot of respect for all the candidates this time around.

The guy leans into me and says all subdued-like, "I just don't know if I can vote for a n*gger." I shit you not.

He could obviously tell from my complete loss of composure that this was not something I was ok with, and started back-pedaling pretty quickly. I told him in a I-don't-want-you-to-punch-me way that I found that a completely insane thing to say, and moved to the other end of the bar.

Of course there I was assaulted by some drunk bottle-blonde who, after I told her five times I didn't want to talk to her, turned to whispered conversations with her companion. Initially about my being an asshole (apparently) it devolved into "I'm not being a racist, I'm just saying ..."

Ah yes, baseball season is here. That means the balance of cool vs. asshole suburbanites shifts toward the 'hole. I'm sure it will all go fine and be good for the bars and restaurants downtown. I just hope I don't get called a faggot while walking down the street again.


Anonymous said...

Not surprising really. In an area with such a diverse population (though everyone seems to self-segregate) I've heard people say things like that in Metro Detroit way more times in my life than I care to remember. I always wondered how an area that has (or had?) one of the major cities, and economic engines, in the country could be so ass-backward. Perhaps that's why I left?

D-Tales said...

I love how you phrased that--saying "secret white people things." It's so true, too. I also had a similar experience on Opening Day, and it certainly did not escape me that the crowds were (a) HEAVILY intoxicated, and (b) white as all white can white.

A friend I was with commented that baseball season is great because it brings a heavy influx of business to the city (as you also noted) and I *think* he also said something about increased safety, which prompted me to repeat a conversation I had with a bartender at [Proof] about how the baseball crowds actually create the most violence, the most destruction, and the most intolerance out of any other single group of people year-round.

The moral of the story: a white alpha male pumped up on hops and barley who is either (a) way too excited about his team's victory, or (b) way too upset over their loss is NOT the best kind of clientele to be courting, and everyone must be a bit more on guard than they would be than, say, when passing a lone black dude on the street.

I'll likely reiterate some of this on my own blog at a later date, but thanks for being the first.

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