I was at work yesterday, as I obviously am most days, and we had the Olympics on the TV. I was serving a customer and I glanced over to see one of the men’s sprinting events. I noticed that the lady glanced over as well, so, seeing that the camera was zoomed in to a slow motion shot of the race leader, I jokingly said “I’d hate to have him chasing me!“. At this point the lady I was serving looked back at me with a quizzical and judgmental stare, and said “Why?”
Now at this point, three things became immensely apparent.
1. The leader of the sprint was black.
2. The lady I was serving was black.
And these would not be an issue, had it not been for:
3. Unlike where I grew up, the place I live at the moment is very segregated.
In that single moment, it was like my entire identity had been called into question. I felt like I was on trial. I managed to claw back my intention by stammering “He’s just really fast…?” which she seemed to accept with a suspicious grunt, but still it was a long awkward moment. Which was great. So, by being so against the logistics of racism that I forget that a divide between the ethnicities even exists, I still managed to walk head first into a potential Rosa Parks, and make a idiot of myself to a complete stranger by simply trying to comment that an Olympic sprinter was quite fast.
I probably shouldn’t speak.