Write On Grrrl

Voice of Empowerment. Not reason.

Paula Deen. Keep Talking About Race

May I be the first to thank you Ms. Paula Deen.

Not for your boneheaded racial slurs. But for reminding us, as Americans, that our world is far from colorblind. And just because we're not publicly lynching people in the town square, doesn't mean things have gotten a whole lot better.

Take a recent Thursday night in my world. While you were attempting to put out your public relations fires, my husband and I spent an evening at a major department store, being racially profiled. You know, because even though I'm a tall white blonde woman, when I'm with my 'scary' dark-skinned husband, there's an element of guilt by association.

Our 'crime', of the moment--trust, it wasn't the first, and surely won't be the last--was returning two huge boxes of apparel, purchased via the web, to a shopping plaza in suburban Rhode Island. As we're entering the store, the security alarm goes off. 

Andre turns to me and said, "Well, I just triggered the black alarm." 

It'd be funny if it wasn't true.

Apparently, if you purchase something on-line from Kohl's, the distribution center doesn't de-activate the security mechanism. No biggie. But if free returns for on-line purchases are standard, then such an activity should not only be commonplace, but not require an immediate tail by a floor clerk, who basically escorted us to the service desk.

In case you were wondering, the racial make- up of Greenville, RI, about ten minutes north of my house in Providence, according to the 2010 census, stands at 97.1 percent white. The black population? A whopping .8 percent. 

Why is this important? Because if you have absolutely no personal interaction with someone other than your own race, ever, there's an outstandingly good possibility you've got some deep set assumptions going down that you may, or may not, be acknowledging, that are indeed, racist.

Like you, ignoramus managerial type, who made it a point to stop by and ask the service desk clerk, "Those guys returning something?", even though she was clearly mid-transaction, scanning clothing in plastic bags, each bearing mail order bar codes, that interestingly enough match the receipts.

And blatantly turning around to and get a full on look in our faces? Nice touch.

So, Ms. Paula Deen. Now that you've managed to open a conversation on race, even if that wasn't your intent, maybe you can see how important it is to continue it.