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Dating Blogger Charles: “I’m Not a Racist, But…”

Have you ever noticed that every racist joke begins with, “I am not racist… but have you heard about the one where the three black men…?” Of course, then I have to say something about how I find this particular … Read More

By / January 8, 2007

Have you ever noticed that every racist joke begins with, “I am not racist… but have you heard about the one where the three black men…?” Of course, then I have to say something about how I find this particular joke distasteful or offensive. The immediate reaction is, “I am not racist, I have black friends. G-d, learn how to take a joke.”

What makes people think that who they associate with has anything to do with their social awareness or ability to gauge bigotry. Clearly, the humor in a racist joke is only funny if you buy into racial stereotypes. And why is it that just because I am white with blonde hair and blue eyes people automatically assume I am going to laugh at a joke about Afro-Americans or Chinese? Don’t they know I only laugh at jokes about Polacks and Jews?

This past Saturday, I was at a party on a date with a guy I recently met and his friends. Within ten minutes of being there I was bombarded with at least three sentences that started with, “I am not racist but…” I immediately felt uncomfortable in this environment and knew I stuck out like a sore thumb because after every story, joke, diatribe that was blatant and unadulterated racism I had a retort about why I thought it was BS and how society had these guys programmed. Oddly enough, I didn’t hear a singly gay joke.

About halfway through this party someone was going out for more alcohol and asked the host for cash to buy it. The host gave him twenty dollars and his friend responded with a whole-hearted laugh and said, “You are such a Jew.” Shock. Wow, I guess none of these Catholic school-raised boys realized not only was there a gay in their presence but a gay Jew who’s also an advocate for civil rights. I handed the guy a hundred dollar bill for the liquor store, told him to buy himself something nice, and then asked if I was such a Jew? He looked confused, I nodded and said, “Baruch Hashem” and the room went silent.

Excruciating seconds of complete and cut-the-air-with-a-knife silence, until the wasted host said, “No Jews aloud in my house, get the fuck out.”

I left, my date stayed, and I felt fulfilled and sad. These guys were from New York, raised in New York prep school and all went to colleges in major cities. I didn’t understand how they could be so ignorant and closed-minded to the world. No Jews in your house? And how is it that my homosexuality did not bother them as much as my religious and cultural conviction?

I often wonder how we can walk through life standing in hatred. Hatred of difference, of each other and even of ourselves. I know that when I dislike a person or situation it doesn’t feel good to me. I try not to stand in that place because it doesn’t feel right to me and yet so much of life is wrapped up in negativity. I try to fix it or focus on it in conversation and action. My date stayed at his friend’s party and I saw that moment as a way for me to leave behind the negative and walk toward the positive. It was 1 a.m., I called my best friend and said lets go out and have a laugh. I met her at a bar and said, “I am not racist but, upper class, Christian, white men are the worst…”     

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