Birmingham, AL 2015

This post contains language and thoughts some people will find offensive. I apologize for this as I've tried to be both tolerant and accepting in my blog posts and keep my bad language to a minimum. But the reality is, I'm tired. Tired of what, you might ask? For starters, I'm tired of stupidity and ignorance. I'm tired of racism. I'm tired of people not recognizing the basic humanity of ALL people. I'm tired of war. I'm tired of greed. I'm tired of drama. I'm tired of hearing how exceptional we are as a nation. And I'm tired of myself for not saying enough about any of it. 

This past weekend a friend from Durham spent the weekend with us in our apartment. Her son was a newly enrolled freshman at Mars Hill University and she was delivering him to the campus for the start of the rest of his life.

Upon arrival at his dormitory, they met his new roommate and the roommate’s parents who were from Charlotte and appeared to have money. Unpacking and getting settled in the new environment, our friend and her son were taken aback when the new roommate’s father scolded him that he was not allowed to hang his, yet-unfurled, confederate battle flag in the dorm room. Nothing further was said by anyone.

Later, as they lunched together in a Mars Hill restaurant, the roommate’s mother joked that the required Sickle Cell Anemia test was pointless for both boys. She remarked that if their son were at risk of having that disease, he might be eligible for more financial aid. Taken aback yet again, our friend and her son sat silent and dumbfounded by the  racist comment. At that point, the roommate looked to his parents and asked, “Should we tell them about the Canadians?” “Oh,” answered the mother, smiling, “Instead of saying African Americans we call them Canadians.”

Our friend was clearly baffled not only by the blatant intolerance and ignorance, but also by the other family’s assumption that because our friend and her son are white it was acceptable to share their racism in such an open manner. She was also upset with herself for not knowing what to say in response, hoping her silence would communicate her disapproval. 

My suggestion was this. "Next time it comes up, I said, you should affect your best southern drawl (she has roots in New Orleans) and say with syrupy sweetness: 'Why, Canadians, that is so smart and subtle. Who would possibly know what you’re actually saying or implying? We’re not so subtle or politically correct in our family. For example, when we encounter white racists and their code words, we simply call them what they are – Fuckin’ Crackers.”