I’m still kinda upset about something that happened last night when I was pedi-cabbing, so I think I’m going to talk about it.
I was crusing around looking for rides (basically when I see people, I ride up next to them and say, “hey, do you want a free ride? I just work for tips.”) and came upon a small group of people. There was a couple of girls, and then I think 3-4 redneck guys. When I started pitching the free ride thing, one dude said, “there’s too many of us” and I said, “well I can carry 4 or 5 if you want to sit on laps or I can call over another cab.” Then we talked some more and I think he was getting close to taking the ride until he said, “If you try pulling all of us, you’ll be sweating like a N******* trying to read.”
I was stunned. The racist one-liner came so fast that at first I didn’t believe he said but then a second or so later, I said (using more colorful language than I’m using now) that this was way jacked up and I won’t give you a ride, and would never give you a ride if you use racist language like that. I then rode off, but yelled something else at the dude (again something I can’t say on this blog, but I will say that the F-word was involved).
I still can’t believe it. The man’s words just stick in my head, and I can’t get rid of them. You know where this comes from, straight up for the days after slavery when the laws forbidding the teaching of reading to Black folks were struck down, so now the way that the rich white folks tried to stay in power was by putting down Black folks and creating the putrid myth of white superiority, so that the rich white folks could keep the poor white folks in power but letting the poor white folks feel superior to somebody… and then this is still playing out today, as white guy from rural Oklahoma repeats the lie, not even really knowning what is he doing.
And this isn’t the only time this is played out. Institutional racism may be more rare, but it still happens. Lately I’ve haven’t seen it so much from the police (actually, I actually had a good conversation with a cop last week about the racist policies of the nightclubs in Bricktown), but at least one of the OKC nightclubs seems to have an unspoken policy where the dress code is used to keep out black people. The way this works is that if a black guy comes into the club, his outfit is scrutinized sharply so that if anything is below par (jeans too baggy, shoes aren’t good enough, shirt isn’t tucked in) he won’t make it, yet if a white guy wheres the SAME OUTFIT, he’ll get into the club.
And of course on the street you see it all the time. I have a fair number of passengers who think somehow I’m going to agree with them when they make racist smacktalk (and I also throw them off my cab when they make that mistake, as I did with a couple of girls about a month ago who kept throwing around the n-word ) or when they combine racist and sexist smacktalk (an Iraq war vet I had a few nights ago told me first that he “shoots people in the face” for a living, and then said that there were way to many “N*****r b******s in the club). Probably I don’t handle it right (cursing out the redneck last night was probably not a very loving thing to do), but I find it hard to keep my mouth shut or to not explode when people say things like this.
Anyway, all of this is to say that I’m pretty fed up with it.