Dad, your white male privilege is showing.

12:11 PM Posted In , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
While people watching (and being watched in turn) with my dad over the weekend, I was reminded that he is somewhat of a "good, ole' boy" and lives in a conservative, small, primarily white Christian town. We were at Fry's in Wilsonville and he commented on how many Asians were shopping there, he guessed that a third of our fellow shoppers were and attributed it to so many electronics brands being based in those parts of the world. I wouldn't say that many, but I suppose that in his mind, more than one group is enough for comment. I did remind him that we were in an area with more diversity than where he lives.
He also referred to a singer as "a black guy from such and such." Really, is the race even an issue in the guy's performance? Would he refer to a white performer as "a white guy"? No. And yes, if the artist in question were a woman, he would refer to her as a "gal" with some size connotation. (i.e. "big gal" vs. "little gal"). I grew up hearing him say about cheerleaders while watching football, "Not bad for a bunch of fat chicks." Yes, he does mean it somewhat ironically. I do love him, but I have mentioned before that my father is the primary reason I am a feminist.
I remember a friend of my father's whom I had never met before came into the backyard of our rural farmhouse while I was jumping on the trampoline. I was about 8-10 years old. I stopped and watched him warily. He laughed and asked, "You're probably wondering what a strange black man is doing in your yard, aren't you?" He probably was the first black man I had ever met. I answered, "No, I am wondering why there is a strange man in my yard and who he is." In other words, the fact that there was a stranger at all in our yard was the only thing going through my head. (In case you are wondering, Dad had sent him out back to look at our aviaries as we raised exotic birds until he could finish his telephone call).
Now I am not saying that I am completely colour-blind, either. For example, last night at the crowded grocery store I noted that a gentleman who moved so I could squeeze by was tall and black. The woman he was with was short, and perhaps Latina, I don't remember exactly. There was also a very pregnant white woman in the soup aisle. While I was eyeing toys for my niece, I moved out of the way for a white man with a pot belly and a Hawaiian shirt. A male store employee (didn't note race, but I think he was white) almost knocked over a pallet of heavy boxes. And the checkout clerk was a white woman with long hair. There was a man and his daughter looking at seat covers for a car, I believe they were both Latino. The only racist thought that went through my head about any of them was that many Latinos in this area took good care of their cars and have pride in them, like putting religious stickers, keeping them very clean, and their names in gothic font in the back windshield. Then again, I also thought the Hawaiian shirt guy was rude for not even smiling when I made a crack that I was hogging the whole aisle to myself. And I noted that the pregnant woman was a bit older than the average for conceiving, I made a guess at her age being late 30's/early 40's.
I am just a horrible person for people watching, I suppose.

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