Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On Strategy

Apologies for another ((sigh)) post. Anyway, here goes.

I saw a very good friend on Monday. She was living far away but is only 2 hours away now. I still haven't seen her much, largely because I suck & am curmudgeonly. But I was out there Monday and got to have coffee with her & really realized how much I miss her.

I told her this story I'd heard about a place we used to work together.

Our mutual sisterfriend (let's call her Fauzia Faidi, or FF for short) asked the receptionist to make some hotel arrangements at a hotel. The woman did and sent an email saying, "let me know if you get there & its unacceptable. If there's anything wrong with the place just call & I'll get you in someplace better!"

So FF goes up to get the paperwork and to inquire. "So, is there anything that's making you worry about the place? Like, did they say, yes I'm sure the exterminators will have lifted the quarantine by Monday night?"

And the woman says, "Well, I don't think of myself as racist or anything but some hotels are not well maintained."

Let's go with puzzled. It is more effective than pissed, right? The ff replies, "I think I'm confused. What does that have to do with race?"

"Oh, well, you know, its just that there's a certain group of people from a certain place" she looked around to avoid eye contact, "and they tend to buy up a lot of hotels and don't take care of them."

"Huh. Well, I've stayed in some really crappy hotels in Dodge that were all run by white people. Is that what you mean?"

"What? Er, oh, of course. It's just that on the phone, it was just, they sounded. . .i don't know"

"Is this about someone on a phone having an accent?"

"yes. yes. i'm so sorry! i don't know these things and i'm really not like that and its just that you hear people talking about these hotels and i don't know anything and you know so much and. . .and. . .and. . ."

So this whole conversation was low-level impact. No one was denied services, housing or healthcare. Our friend the FF was not worried about loss of her job, custody of her daughter blah blah blah. It was tiring, something to address & sigh about. The woman felt terrible and expressed every hour on the hour afterwards how terrible she felt. This only made the FF more tired.

So my good friend and I were parsing through this story.

"OMFG. You are making that up!" (I have been known to exaggerate, on occassion)

"In fact, I'm not."

"I just wish people would keep to the strategic racism. At least you don't have to deal with all their apologies afterwards."

Not the same thing at all.

There is something to be said for exposure and that some folks have simply not had much exposure to good information. There is something to being able to say "wow. that logic actually doesn't even make sense." Why waste energy on being surprised, shocked and outraged by what is logical consequence of the whiteness all around us? Respond, of course, but don't lose sleep over it.

And then I think about our last national election.
Fear and hatred of queers and arabs meant that more people voted for a hate-mongering, war-mongerer fuck than voted against him.

And then I think about where the above woman gets her information, who feeds it to her, who ensures it is the dominant cultural discourse, who maintains whiteness as we know it.

It's all strategy, isn't it?


Anonymous said...

I believe that's "strategery," actually. And disgustingly true.


Daisy said...

I'm just worried that people are more racist than they publicly tell the pollsters they are...this phenomenon even has an official name called The Bradley Effect.

Everyone around the world say prayers for the USA, please?

Great post, BTW.