Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Latest Encounter With Becky

All week I have been in a training class for my new role at work. There are about 10 people in the class but we’re from all over the country and Mexico. Tonight the director took us to dinner at Morton’s. The food is good and the wine is flowing, then she says, “I have got a story about a time when my life was in danger.” We all turn towards her with our ears perked up.

You see we had just finished listening to Paulo tell us about the two times he had been kidnapped in Mexico. Then my boss asked if anyone else had been in such a life threatening situation. Cue Becky.

“I woke up one night with a black man in my bedroom!”
Instantly, I made eye contact with the other black person in the group.
‘Get ready for some bullshit!’ is what my eyes said to her.
She nodded back in affirmation.
I said, “So your boyfriend surprised you?”

“No!” She said with a dismissive chuckle.

The she proceeds to tell us how when she was in undergrad at some university in Akron someone, correction, ‘A Big BLACK man’ broke into the house she shared with some other little Hasselbeckites and tried to rob them.

Now, let’s break this down.

Becky was very specific about what was scary about this man. His BLACKNESS.
Now, let me describe her to you. She’s blonde and about the size of Serena Williams sans ass and with that Olga-ish square body type that some Becky’s have. The point is, this is no delicate flower. But, because she is white, she believes two things:

1. That every man wants her body.
2. That she deserves to be protected at all

The robber never touched her and when he realized that she might not be sound asleep, he left the house without stealing anything. The police showed up lickety split, comforted her and her housemates and even CAUGHT the guy shortly thereafter.

When the airbags were stolen from my car last year, while it was parked in front of my house, I was told to just call my insurance company and chalk up the costs as a hazard of living in the DC Metro area. Nobody hugged me, or commiserated with me about the thousands of dollars I’d have to spend to get a new car. But, maybe, that was because my life wasn’t in danger.

When my mom was carjacked at GUNPOINT a few years ago, the police asked my then 50-something year old mother if she could’ve known who would do that. You see, because my mom is black, surely she knows carjackers and maybe this time she just got caught out there.

‘It’s probably your own fault black lady’, is the message she received right off the bat.

Meanwhile my mom is shaking, crying and for a long time afraid of going outside at night. The only person that protected her was her husband, a black man. Nobody else really cared. And, if it wasn’t for the fact that they stayed on the detective’s ass, they probably never would’ve arrested the guys that terrorized her.

Getting back to the dinner, Becky Big Bones wrapped up her story and everyone else at the table just oohed and ahhhed over her triumph over such a ‘scary’ situation. Don’t get me wrong, I would be scared too.

But, it would’ve been different for me. I’m more scared of white people. I live in a predominantly white area and I worry about some psycho MFer kidnapping me and enslaving me in a well in a field way out in Leesburg. And the worst part of it would be that nobody but my family would realize that foul play had occurred. I’ve taken to clutching my purse when white people get on the elevator with me or when I’m walking to the parking lot at night and see one of them jogging by. That freaks them out and I must admit to a enjoying that a bit.

I remember after my mom’s carjacking, I took off some days from work to help her get her papers in order, new license, calling credit card companies, just consoling her. But, when I got back to work and told them what happened, I didn’t get the oohs and ahhhs.

I got the racist side eye.

People asked me if we knew who did it. They said things like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard there are certain areas in Baltimore that you shouldn’t go to at night.’

My parents live on a quiet tree lined street in a detached single family home with a front and backyard on the northern city limits. She doesn’t live in the hood. I was just really pissed.

I guess my whole point in sharing this story is two-fold.

1. I know I’m not the only one that works in an environment where there are less than a handful of blacks/minorities. What do you do when these kinds of ‘stories’ are brought up?

2. If you don’t work around only white people, you need to know what and how they think. Do I think this Becky was a malicious racist? No, not really. But, I do think that she is blessed with white female priveledge and entitlement. Her type is scary to me because her blissful ignorance to these inherent racist ideals almost never go unchallenged.

I didn’t jump in her shit at the dinner table because, my message wouldn’t have been well received AND I would’ve been seen as the problem. Not her. Especially if she burst out in tears like the real Hasselbeck is prone to do when exposed. In addition, I’ve been jumping in her shit, in a very professional/non emotional way, all week because as you probably realize, these types of comments don't just come out at dinner.

Oh and get this, she said to me at dinner. ‘You look so familiar to me. I think there is an actress that you remind me of but I can’t think of her name and it’s been bugging me all week.’

*cough* Yeah, cuz we all look alike *cough*



M.Dot. said...

I got the racist side eye.

There ain't nothing like it.


Penni Brown said...

You've got that right!

Anonymous said...

True stories:

1) This white girl (23) on my project told me that she was told (by another) that when driving in DC on New York Ave, drive in the center lane so that she wont get carjacked. I wasn’t told that when I joined the project .. they got rules for each other I suppose … cause the city is a jungle .. NOT!!
2) White lady on the same project (40+) told me that there were drug deals being performed every night right next to the large well protect government facility across the street… NOT… it was the shift change for the ethnic cleaning and maintenance staff. That young black boy in the car with the loud music .. just waiting to pick his momma up…
3) White guy (34) did not believe that white people visit Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC after certain time at night… we went out for drinks late one evening .. I won a $20 dollar bet…

The live in a different world and live by different rules .. every now and then we get reminded.