Racism is funny. Not like. Ha ha, that’s funny.” More like, “WTF did he just say?” funny.
I was looking for some part-time or temporary work recently, and a buddy of mine called and said his company was hiring, but it was only factory work. Building frames and using power-saws, etc. I love this stuff, but my resume never lets me work in these places. If you ever worked in an office or as a designer you don’t get to work in a factory, and I imagine the opposite is also true.
I call them up explain that I want to work there and I was referred, etc. The HR lady told me to apply online then buzz back. Did that. Got the call for the interview, just outside of Moorpark (one mile from the edge of the earth).
Talked to the warehouse supervisor, he promised me two weeks of work, but I wouldn’t be employed by his company. I’d go to a temp agency, fill out a bunch of paperwork, do a drug test and they would also give me a test to see if I could use a tape measure. You know, pull it out measure, and click the button it goes back in?!
I do all the required crap, call my buddy, and he says “Watch out for the floor foreman, he hates white people.” I tell him, “No worries, I’m sure it will be fine.”
Maybe I’m naïve, but I have found 90% of the time when somebody says somebody else is racist it’s because something didn’t go their way. For example, I want a raise, I didn’t get it – the boss must hate me or my race or maybe my sex.
So, I ignored my buddy.
I show up for my first day of work, on a Wednesday at 7:00 in the AM. I wait a half an hour and the guy I interviewed with comes into the lobby looks at the four of us that are waiting to start work, takes two of us and says, “I don’t remember hiring those other two guys.”
He gives us goggles and ear plugs, then takes us to the foreman my buddy warned me about. He gives us a look-over, and then says, “Where are your arm protectors and gloves.” The other guy goes white like he was about to be fired. So, I say, “This is all we were given.”
The guy mumbles, “Off to a great start white people.” I give him a look, but I’m not about to fight somebody in my first 45 minutes of work.
So the foreman says, “Follow me, can’t have you on my crew.”
He takes me to an old (white) biker who, upon meeting tells me he just got back from six weeks in rehab. I’m at a loss for words, do I congratulate him, welcome him back or say, “That’s too much information?” I just say, “All right.”
The biker says, “So, you were kicked off of Jorge’s crew, huh? He hates white guys.”
I’m beginning to believe my buddy. After five days Jorge said I didn’t fit the “Environment” and I was let go. I kept the gloves.
Forward three days, I’m sitting in the doctor’s office and the only thing to read is Oprah’s magazine, O. The cover shows a slimmed down Oprah with a ponytail swinging in the air. I flip it open, well because I read anything that’s lying around.
There is a little blurb written about the cover of Oprah and her ponytail. The hairdresser sewed in the hair and instructs her to swing it for the photographer. It’s not working, so Oprah’s “friend” Gayle instructs her to “Swing it like a white girl!”
Now, I’m not offended by this remark, but I do know that if a white talk show host had said something like “Shake your ass like a black girl,” it would offend people and most likely result in a forced apology.
I guess what I’m saying is when is a stereotype OK to say as a joke and when is it offensive?
Another example, when a white comedian makes racial jokes, most people get a little uncomfortable, but a black comedian cannot get through a set without the standard, “White people are crazy, have you ever seen them dance?”
Joking about racial differences can be humorous, but when is it too far?