Today I encountered a situation I thought I knew how to handle.
My friend and I decided to go to the library because she wanted to find something to read over the Christmas break and I wanted to check out some Gustav Klimt art books. I headed to the art section and there was an elderly couple fussing over some watercolour books. They noticed me standing behind them and the woman said, “I’m sorry, are we in the way?” and I said they were fine where they were. Then the man said to me, “The Chinese section is over there” and chuckled to himself. I felt my smile fade and was left kind of speechless. They walked away and I grabbed my books.
Now, I can’t stop thinking about this encounter. I’m disappointed in myself for not calling this guy out. Even a simple, “Dude that’s racist” is better than being mute. I always thought I’d be someone who would say something in these sorts of situations but I was just so shocked by it because he seemed to think he was being friendly and funny.
I feel like I’ve contributed to racism by not speaking up and it really bothers me. I’ve talked about this before: racial microaggression is fucked up because it can be so subtle and easy to brush away. The best thing to counter it is to make some noise about it, which I didn’t do.
So yeah, I’m kind of kicking myself about it right now.