The other day I came across a post which suggested saying, “I don’t see colour” was actually racist.
I read it and agreed with many of the points but then I pretty much put it out of my mind. As much as we would not wish to have the history of race relations thrown aside as though it was insignificant, I figured one could not deny that it would be great to live in a society where race did not matter and to simply stand on the platform of being victims never does note make sense. So, I ‘liked’ the status and forgot about it.
A couple weeks later, I was making a midnight run to the gas station to settle some munchies and was surprised to be greeted by a white, middle-aged man at the cash register in the deli.
Though I immediately noted it as odd, even a little humorous, I simply paid for my grub and left but I couldn’t get the encounter off my mind. The more I thought about why I found it odd, the more unsettled I felt. The post about not seeing colour came back to mind.
Why should I find it ODD for a white, older male to be working at a gas station at all?
Maybe it was simply a case of being accustomed to one thing and experiencing something different. However, that lead me to question why I should be so “accustomed” to seeing black faces behind cash registers that seeing a white face was so jarring, and whether the fact that I was registering race in the situation made me racist.
The whole thing made me think about a flipped scenario. The fact that the black community still feels the need to make a huge fanfare about the advancement of persons of colour into “high ranking positions” in society. Is the fact that these advancements are still considered few and far between, and a show of perseverance against the odds still bringing light to winning causes an actual fight for racial equality, or, has it turned into a perpetuation of racial discord?
Even at this point, my mind isn’t settled. As much as I know the world (i.e. U.S.A. because for some reason many of us in the Caribbean weigh popular American culture very heavily when thinking about ‘the way of the world’) is not a very friendly place to persons of colour, I know that that guy at the gas station greeted me with nothing but politeness and professionalism.
I had no reason to think so much about his race except to acknowledge that I had eyes and I could see that he was white.
At any given point in time, we make the choice whether race should be a point of note in any situation.
I made being a white man working at the gas station something ‘not normal’.
Was I being racist?