By Samuel Clemens Long
IN NYC I’M ALMOST “SPECIAL EXHIBIT AT THE MET” WHITE.
I was raised in a small Midwestern town; lotta corn and grey skies, not so much diversity.
How has living in NYC informed my opinions on race?
The New York attitude has kind of worn off on me. The “no one gives a fuck about you,” including your race or where you’re from, is pretty easy to understand in a place where you can see every shade of human in one day. I’m more interested in exactly who has to clean up the poop on the subway seat after the homeless guy uses the commode. I can’t say that which shade of brown or pink you are really seems pertinent in such a world.
Oh yeah, and everyone is racist. White people don’t have a corner on the market (institutionally obviously white people have that version of racism on lock down). The first time I heard a Dominican talk about a Puerto Rican I was like, “Oh shit I recognize this.” And then I heard Puerto Ricans talk about Puerto Ricans! And I was like, “I don’t get the knife thing but I recognize your rich and vibrant culture.”
More or less racist? I was more racist before I moved to New York. Outside of a truly metropolitan area it’s easy to see things in black and white (literally in the case of Detroit). Not that I saw one group as better, but they were different and separate in a lot of cases. It was easy to keep track of things in this binary world. It was easy to care about “my” culture versus “your” culture. But in New York after meeting the 100th half-Brazilian, quarter-Jap- anese, fourth-Indian, fourth-Alaskan born in Hong Kong/raised in London/ started life as a non-practicing Jew turned Buddhist (and who you suspect might actually be from another planet) who loves vegan food and cock-fights you meet, you stop caring. Your brain just says, “God I just don’t fucking care anymore.” And then it’s just that person’s a prick because they’re a prick, not because of the box they check when filling out a federal form.
My thoughts on racists? The simple answer is there are two kinds of racism. There’s the black hearted intentional KKK hate mongering kind: fuck those people with all the wild organic free range fucks the world can muster. They are actively racist. Then there’s the pseudo-benign kind of racism that most of us fall into. I have some empathy for this kind of racism because I’ve been “that guy” enough times to know that it was never motivated by dislike, but by ignorance and a lack of life experiences.
Questions can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or #askexoticallywhiteguy.