Open People Share Their Accidental Racist Moments
We don't mean it. None of us ever do. However, we live and engage in a cultural zeitgeist that is constantly pouring into our heads at all hours of the day, for years on end. At some point, something none too pleasant regarding race would have slipped in. What's important is understanding it and working to make sure it never happens again. Fortunately, you're not alone, as evidenced by the answers to Reddit user, r/RealG98's question:
What's your "accidentally racist" moment?
2 Hours Later...
My dad asked a black, female employee at Wal-Mart for some help with picking a good watermelon. "You look like you would probably know what's the best watermelon!".
His intentions were to be "I've seen you in produce many times. You seem to be the person to ask advice on choosing what is best to buy".
He didn't realize his mistake until he was watching tv hours later and refused to go back for 2 months.
When The Menu Leads You Astray
I wanted Indian food. My friends wanted Italian. After sitting down at an Italian restaurant, I open the menu and joke, "I don't see any Indian food."
I look up at our Indian waiter asking for our orders. Erm.
And There It Was...
I told my coworker he had gorilla hands. He's black.
As soon as I said it I had a JD moment from Scrubs where I just screamed internally for 10 straight seconds.
Wow, There Has To Be A Better Word For That
My partner is Cuban, before meeting her I had never eaten a papaya.
I told her parents about how she gave me my first papaya to eat. Apparently papaya is slang for lady parts in some part of Cuba. Really wish I hadn't told her dad how surprisingly juicy the papaya his daughter gave me was.
Not so much racist as a clash of cultures I guess but still mortifying.
I was heading to work and waiting to cross the street at an intersection. As the cross walk sign went from a red hand indicating "wait" to a white man indicating "walk", a jogger runs ahead of us and nearly gets hit by a car who tried to turn on red.
After being stunned from seeing this jogger nearly get hit, the driver has the audacity to loudly honk her horn at him when it was clearly her mistake. Fuming from the adrenaline from seeing this guy nearly get killed I yell out at the driver, "HEY, HE WAS WHITE!!" Referring to the white man sign indicating "walk" - Not the white guy who ran across the street.
Immediately after yelling this I realize how this could be totally misconstrued now seeing the woman driving is black and staring at me. Adding to this, I realize I'm walking in the same direction as many of my colleagues to work.
I walk a different direction to work now.
And On That Note...
I was in downtown LA camping on the sidewalk with friends for the opening of episode 1. Middle of the night i decide to walk to the convenience store, taking me through a pretty sketchy area. Waited a long time at the cross walk and a homeless looking black man walks up to me and says "whatchu waitin for, no traffic now".
Without thinking i replied "i walk when the white man tells me to".
He replied "you an me both brother".
Calling The Kettle...
I'm a firefighter paramedic and just the other day we had a medical aid call for a Chinese woman complaining of pain.
She localizes her pain to her upper right abdomen, where the liver is located. One side effect of liver failure, something that could cause that pain, is jaundice, or yellowing of the skin.
So I absent mindedly said, 'hmmm, you look a little yellow...' and my captain immediately walks right up to me, looks at me incredulously and asks 'really?!'
Fortunately the patient and family missed it.
Only Drink Clear Vodka From Now On
This thing might be a bit hard to translate , but it fits the theme.
Whole thing happened in Poland (I'm polish as well) I was at a party once, and there was this black guy from Africa. He knew polish so he had no trouble getting along with everybody. At one point he brought a strawberry flavored vodka and was running around offering it to everyone. He approached me and said "you want some?" To which I replied - " Thanks, I don't like colored ones" (Dzi?ki, nie lubi? kolorowych).
Took ma a while to realize what I said, but he immediately knew that it was about vodka, not him.
We had a good laugh about it.
I'm Taking It Back
Growing up I was playing with my neighbors. I'm pretty much the only white kid around. My friends were being goofy and not focusing on the basketball game we were playing, so I playfully call them porch-monkeys and encourage for the game to continue....
Well, their guardian/Aunt heard me and lifted me up by one arm and took me inside. Asked me the who/what/where/why of the word, and I explained it just means goofy kids or rugrats to me and thats what my dad would call us if we were playing around and he couldn't hear the tv....
So we ended up going back to my place for the adults to talk lol.
Seriously, There Has To Be A Better Name For That
I used to live in a remote town deep in the woods of Northern California with my dad. He had an Australian Shepherd named "Black" who was always getting into trouble. Anyway, I've got Black in the car at a gas station, go in to pay, come back out and he has jumped out of the car and is running across the street. I just start yelling "Black! Black!! No!!! BLAAAACK!!!" at the top of my lungs.
Suddenly comes into focus an African American family at a pump between me and the dog, staring at me.... completely horrified. I'm like... "I'm sorry..... my dog's name is Black..... He just ran across the street". The family looks across the street in unison, Black is nowhere in sight. Time slows down. I make a show of running across the street to look for him. Finally, thank god, as they were leaving I had Black by the collar and was dragging him back to the gas station.
The whole family bursts out laughing. The dad was yelling "BLAAACK" and pointing at me as they pulled away.
When You Make An Assump Out Of Tion
This was about 5 years ago. Girlfriend and I are throwing a joint birthday party at our house (her and 2 friends share a birthday), we had done a lot of work and cooking to prep for the party.
The doorbell rings, girlfriend and I answer it, open the door to find an Asian man holding a large brown paper bag who immediately asks "Is Tim here?". I was a little offended after all our hard work cooking and turn back to yell across the room and over the entire party:
"Tim, did you order f_*_ing Chinese food?!!".
Asian guy sees Tim and steps past me to give him a hug and pulls the bottle of Scotch out of the brown bag that he had bought as a gift for his birthday...
In my defense who doesn't introduce themselves to the hosts of a party the first time they come to your door! Lol.
Never quite did live that one down, but the Asian guy (Japanese in fact) and I are actually really good friends now to this day! Even the night of we were able to laugh about it after I apologized profusely.
Maybe Next Time Check For Ron Weasely Award
When I worked as a summer camp counselor, we gave themed awards to our campers at the end of the week. One week, I choose Harry Potter as my theme.
I gave the only black kid in my cabin the Sirius Black award.
What Would That Even Sound Like?
My brother, picking up a Black Hyundai Accent at the address he was given:
Walks up to front desk of the office building.
"Hey, uh... I'm looking for a guy with an Accent."
Girl at front desk: "oh? What kind of accent?"
Thinks a moment.
"I dunno. A black one?"
Maybe Take A Gander Around The Office
I'm a lawyer and my paralegal is always trying to leave a little early. It's a game we play; she'll buy me a cookie at lunch and then plead to go home early. Usually I allow it because cookie.
Once we actually had some strict deadlines to meet so when she asked I said "no! I own you and I'm chaining you to your desk!"
There was silence. I totally forgot that she was black.
Her response was to slowly raise her hand and say "I object".
My 'almost' accidentally racist story.
I watched a lot of Looney Tunes as a kid and I used to say How Now Brown Cow? whenever a friend was thinking about something or was in a tough spot in a game.
Well, in college I was playing pool with a very overweight African American girl and I had left her in a terrible position on the table. Her only choice really was to just whack the hell out of it. Just as she lined up to shoot I said, "How now brow......uh, good luck!"
Oh, The Shame
I was waiting to cross the road with my girlfriend one day when I got a really strong waft of Chinese food. Unsurprisingly it had come from a nearby restaurant.
My automatic response was to exclaim "Oooh! I smell Chinese!".
And as I turned back towards my girlfriend I realised that we were standing next to two little old Chinese ladies who were looking at me in horror and disgust.
Stop The First Time
I was an odd dude in high school and one of my schticks was to endearingly call people in my grade cute animal names. So for example I would go up to someone I knew and be like "hey little puppy."(don't ask why) anyway one day I was going up to say hi to the one black girl in our grade and I say "hey monkey!" It took me a second to realize what I had done but it was too late. So in order to remedy the situation I turned to the Indian girl beside her and said "hey other monkey!" to her in order to prove I wasn't racist.
That didn't over well either....
Dude, Read The Room
I walked into a room full of Irish people and after a moment laughingly said "you all sound like a bunch of Micks!" They were all relatives of my friend/former roommate MICK get married here in the USA.
I was ignorantly expressing my delight in their accent by stating they sounded like my friend. But NOOOOOO.
Apparently calling an Irishman a Mick is the equivalent to calling a black person the N word. Back to the story. The...room...froze... I knew something was up but no idea what. "You guys all sound like Mick." The room burst out in laughter and they explained my error.
"Accidentally On Purpose"
Accidentally racist is not the good story for me, it is the accidental/purposeful one that is.
My wife is asian, and one day early in our relationship I was asking what random things were called in her language, and I asked what they call the epicanthic folds of their eyes. She said, and I quote "I don't know, we just call it chinky."
Now, most people may know that is not a good term to use in the US. So, after my laughs, I asked if she knew why the term isn't used here, she didn't, so I explained why we don't say that and we laughed because it was funny.
It becomes an inside joke between us in the house, me calling her chinky and she pretends to be indignant and then laughs.
Roll forward a couple years, we move back to the US, she meets my (all white) family, its all good. After a year or so, at a family gathering I slip and asked her a question and added chinky at the end. I heard the record scratch you hear in movies in my head before my whole family turns on me.
When we got home after that she asked me to never call her that in public again because most of my family, in ones and pairs, took her to the side and asked if she was OK and how what I did was wrong, etc, etc.
I changed to saying Stinky instead and she hates that one.
Just So Much Wrong With That Call...
I referee soccer and one time a team wearing white was playing against a team wearing red. The ball goes out of play touched by a red player. A black player on the white team goes to throw the ball in, and I point to confirm that the throw-in is for the white team and I say "Black ball", instead of white ball.
Everybody looks at me knowing full well what happened. I tried to play it off as having said "Back there" but I highly doubt anyone bought that.