Thursday, December 13, 2007

Is it some sort of white thing?

Last night I had dinner with a guy I worked with 10 years ago. It was great to catch up with him. We've stayed in touch all along, but we rarely get a chance to meet up. We also don't keep up with one another's day to day life anymore. He lives out of town so we see each other once, maybe twice, a year when he comes to Toronto for conferences.

I was mentioning that my bf was travelling for a month. At that point my friend asked what had happened to the other guy I was dating who he had met a couple of years ago. I had absolutely no clue who my friend was talking about. I was wracking my brains trying to think of anyone I was involved with two years ago who could possibly have met this friend. I asked him, "Dave? Are you thinking of Dave?" - even though he knew my ex Dave quite well, and that relationship ended five years ago.

He slowly said, "No. No, it wasn't Dave. I know Dave. No, this was Rick? Todd?"

I was so lost.

"We were eating at Terroni's. He met you after that."

I suddenly knew exactly who he was talking about. First of all I hadn't clued in because my friend had the timeline off by a year. It was only last year that we had met D.

Secondly, I had no clue why my friend hadn't just mentioned that D. is black. I guess my friend thought it would be racist or inappropriate to say something like, "He was a black man", but it would have made perfect descriptive sense and I would have clued in right away.

It would be different if someone told me, "I'm going to meet my friend for coffee. She's Chinese", or, "Do you want to join me and my boyfriend for dinner? He's Indian." In both cases the race is irrelevant. As would any major description at that point be. It would also be pointless to try and narrow down my three long-term boyfriends by describing one as white because they were all white.

But what on earth is wrong with describing someone's race if it is a unique characteristic? Skin colour is just like our hair colour or body type. It makes us who we are, and it shouldn't have to be associated as wrong to say.

On the other hand, if R. tries to differentiate me from past girlfriends by stating that I'm the older, heavier one... I will have to kill him.


Freak Magnet said...

I did that the other day. Someone asked who I had spoken with after getting disconnected, and as much as I wanted to say, "She sounds black," I didn't. I think people are too scared to say anything anymore, for fear of offending someone.

Stewie said...

Yes. A most definite white thing.

tornwordo said...

Lol at the last line. I would have immediately said "you know, the black guy" that is, if I had forgotten his name.

~Babz~ said...

Such a relevant point. It'd be nice, if one day, we dispensed with the bullshit and stopped playing PC games.

Hope you'll have a wonderful and Happy Holiday!

Snooze said...

FM: If race/accent/gender observations are used properly, it shouldn't be seen as offensive

Stewie: lol

Torn: Exactly.

Babz: he's a really great friend. I think he was just being overly cautious.

You have a great holiday too!

Laverne said...

I see that too... the overly cautious, leaving out a rather obvious visual characteristic, thing that people do.

It's as if the mere act of noticing someone's skin tone has become politically incorrect.


Brice said...

I think Caucasians are over-cautious so that we don't get accused of racism.

The other day I was talking with a recent immigrant from Ghana, about having minority-rights organizations (in his tribe, women have always been equal). I pointed out that historically, white men had owned everything. Women, black people, and houses. And that this was the reason that minorities here need a helping hand. He was shocked that a white person had said that, but laughed because it was true.

Snooze said...

Laverne: You summed up what I was trying to say. Thank you!

Brice: lol - that's putting it quite succinctly