A peek behind casual intolerance
My friend shuns me, but only in public. One-on-One she is brilliant, friendly, generous, fun.
But as soon as there is someone else around, she must distance herself from me. She must remind them that she and I are only acquaintances, and that we were not created equal.
How does she do this? She sets up an interview with me. First she shifts in her chair, then says, “OK, OK, let’s see now ...”. She tells me my name, she tells me where I’m from, then reveals all the lowlights of my life, things I have told her in confidence, as though she’d met me ten minutes ago and wasn’t sure of who I was. While she hangs me out to dry, her friends balk and mutter in embarrassment.
At times she just mocks me. She suggests ever so sweetly that she picked me up somewhere, she’s not sure why. There is regret in the sweetness as though she wants her friends to know that she is stuck with me.
I have told her it bothers me -- when she mocks me -- and she laughs. Like a hyena.
But ... what more can I say? She would deny any accusation. She would not understand what I’m talking about. She can never admit to it.
I conclude the problem is in the programming.
My friend comes from a good family. But while she was being educated, somehow the concept of sub-continents stuck. Sub: under, below, beneath, less than, not quite, at a lower point ... you know what I mean.
She doesn’t like that part of her education. She refuses to be a racist, so she becomes my good friend. In public, though, the programming is activated and she must distance herself. But that makes her uncomfortable, and she resents me for it.
It’s a vicious circle.
That’s how racism works in some people. These are nice folks: educated, wise, generous, compassionate and yet ...
|Quepos, Costa Rica - Pino loves napping with Lolly (in green)|
I travelled to Latin America with a another friend. She is a sweet person, the best.
Yet she could not connect with the locals, only with other tourists. She would not talk to the locals unless through me. Whenever it came time to pay, she would react as though a wolf pack surrounded her.
I saw fear, persecution, distrust in her eyes.
|Puerto Viejo - Costa Rica’s Caribbean side is beautiful.|
This is a good person. I would wager she’d go out, heart thumping, to help a local in need. She’d be scared, but she would force herself to do it simply because it is the right thing.
What I’ve discovered is the problem is in the programming. She has an old chip with old recordings that are useless today, yet they run whenever an issue arises, triggering fear and distrust.
|Campesinos. A verdant park with waterfalls and hanging bridges.|
For example, she was chatting with a backpacker from Europe who said he felt he’d been targeted when he was getting off the ferryboat. He'd noticed a man on the boat talking hurriedly on the phone and staring at him. When the European got off the boat, three men approached and said they had a car, that they could share a ride. It would cost less for everyone. Of course, he refused.
My friend and he immediately agreed that it’s better say, “No thanks" and take the bus.
I agreed I would feel threatened as well, but suggested that the man on the boat was a friend helping the others with their share-a-ride business.
What about that idea?
Neither tourist gave it a think. Their minds were made up.
Is it racism? I don’t think so.
I think it’s in the old chip.