I’m not generally one to let the ignorance of others bring me down. But, it sadly seems unavoidable at times. This is a story about a sheltered college student who is blind to the effect that his actions and words have on other people. There is NO excuse for discrimination.
To preface this story, I live in a house with five guys, along with all their testosterone! Leaving his Playboy out on the living room counter this past week amused one of my roommates, so my best friend and I thought it would be amusing to purchase a copy of Playgirl and replace the Playboy on the counter. (Still waiting for their reaction when they come home tonight!) This will seem relevant a bit later I promise!
Last night I went out with a friend of mine and I was having a terrific time just bonding with my girlfriends. While I was out, an old friend from UVA calls me and tells me he’s at JMU and needs a place for him and his friends to sleep. Of coarse I said yes, considering I had my whole house to myself anyway. We met up with them later in the evening and had some late night snacks at my house. While sitting in the living room, one of the guys proceeds to make really homophobic comments about the Playgirl magazine on the table. He’s appalled that pictures of naked men are near him (why he insisted on looking through the magazine? I have no idea). I was taken back by his comments and I just tried to ignore it. I probably should have taken that as a bigger warning sign than I did…
The same guy proceeds to make interrogate my friend and I on whether we have had “lesbian experiences” together while partying. Not only was this completely inappropriate to ask, it was extremely offensive that this was his stereotype of women at JMU. It’s really curious to me that in the mainstream its “hot” to many men when women are bi-sexual but when they see a naked man with another naked man in Playgirl they are disgusted and appalled at the sight of it. This manifestation of homophobia and sexism made me uncomfortable enough, I really didn’t need his next declaration to top off the night.
For some unknowable reason, this guy decided he really needed to share his opinions about how he viewed friends with me. Why me? I have no idea. Looking unwelcoming and irritated apparently didn’t do the trick.
He tells me “I just like white people as friends more than I like colored people, white people are just better.”
Now… As a woman of “color” I was outraged. Outraged. Outraged. And more outraged. I was dumbfounded that someone would say such a thing, particularly to me as the only “colored” person in the room. I know that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions, but I truly believe that no one should ever be entitled to disrespecting someone with such blunt racism.
I wanted to kick him out of my house, but I’m a firm believer of “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” so I didn’t. I clearly expressed how upset I was at this statement and he couldn’t seem to understand why. He was not kidding. He was completely serious.
He tried to justify this by saying he doesn’t know any better because all his friends are white and that was all he grew up with. He tried to tell me that his racism was warranted because one time a black man punched him in the face. WOW. No matter how many times I told him how offensive it was he didn’t seem to get it, at all.
It’s really scary to me that in, what I believe to be a safe community of college educated adults; there is still profound amounts of ignorant, racist, sexist, and homophobic attitudes. It deeply discomforts and saddens me on so many levels.
It’s amazing the power words have, whether intentional or not.