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-The Five Spot

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When You Assume....

Yesterday I was telling Courvoisier about an incident that happened to me while I was engaged in the wonderful world of working. A white coworker and I were chatting and during a rare occasion that I felt like giving a glimpse into Amaretto's world, I told this coworker that I attended college in Philadelphia. So then this coworker says: "Oh, so you went to Temple?"

So this is where I had a moment. Maybe it was my overly sensitive crazy chick (CeCe) raising up- but of all the schools in the Philadelphia area I wondered why oh why this coworker had assumed that I had attended the predominately Black one?

So I told him, that I in fact had attended Drexel University at which point he gave me a shocked face and said "Oh, yeah that's a good school." Thanks for your stamp of approval Mister white man. But even if it wasn't an accredited university, why did you have to assume?

I mean this is the racism that I am talking about. I have never had a cross burned in my yard, or told I couldn't use the bathroom at a certain facility. But on a daily basis I have to combat preconceived notions about Black women. And I'm sure other people/genders/races/nationalities find themselves doing the same...but since this my post and it's all about me Tuesday, I can exclaim that I am sick of this shyt!

Courvoisier felt that it wasn't a moment of racism until he had a shock face because what if Temple was the only the only school he knew of in the Philadelphia area-afterall it is well known. But I begged to differ. Because if I were a young white woman he wouldn't have said Temple. Or if I was having the same sort of conversation with any person (white, black, purple or green), in my mind I might assume they had attended Grape University (because all the purple people go to this place), but I would have asked them "So where did you go Mister Purple person?" and then given myself an internal hi-five if I had assumed correctly.

Because we as people can't help what we think in our minds, even if we live in a politically correct world our parents, media and personal experiences with folks have shaped how we view and label people. But unlike in 1959, in 2009 I think folks would have the decency to at least ask me question, before assuming that they know me...I think that's the least people can do!

See You In Seven


Courvoisier said...

Devil's advocate here:

If a white lady told me she went to school in Philly and I assumed she went to Villa Nova... am I racist because I believed she attended a majority white school because she was white?

Is it wrong to assume that like folks are attracted to each other?

Do black folks attend HBCs because they are black or because they are good schools?

Amaretto said...

Like Thug Passion, everyone has a little racist inside of them. I just think that in 2009-when it comes to matters like these-you shouldn't say what your assumption is, like it's the right thing to do!

Though it had many purposes, the civil rights movement aimed to have all folks viewed as people. You could assume all you want that white girl had gone to Villanova, but you would have asked her first. At least, that's what I would do and I'm assuming most would do the same.

I don't know why black folks attend HBCUs. Maybe because that's the only place grandaddy was allowed to go to and for some people that means something...

Courvoisier said...

You know I totally agree with you about the not assuming which is why... I didn't think his intentions were racist until he appeared surprised at your response. To assume that like folks are more comfortable with their own kind is not racist to me. BUT to be surprised that you went to Drexel and imply that Drexel is a better school than Temple, so you must have attended Temple... throws me for a loop.

So at the end of the day I am by your side sista at march. You should have responded what community college did you go to?

Amaretto said...

LOL! I know you agree. But I was offended because of his assumption, because he felt he needed to validate me and where i attended. And the fact that he acted like he knew me. You don't know me!

LOL@ community college! Yes and to make it even better I do outrank him!

Rum Punch said...

So once at while waitressing at the gentleman's club, this white customer kept asking me to get a cigarette for him from another customer. I wasn't really trying to hear him cause I was busy. And then he said, "come on LaKeisha." Now that is so not my name. Not even close. I am named after royalty. Heh heh. And I said to him, "what did you just call me?" And then I didn't serve him for the rest of the night. Now when I told this to my friend, I said that's shades of racism right there, as if all Black women are named LaKeisha or something of that ilk. And my friend was like, "no he was just ignorant. He didn't know what he was doing." Sayy whaat? No, he knew what he was doing. And he knew he was wrong. And that's why he didn't get served for the rest of the night.

Courvoisier said...

What's wrong with the name LaKeisha?

Amaretto said...

I know! I know some LaKeisha's! And they are all white!

Okay, I only know one. And she's black and is quite fond of brightly colored false hair.

mint julep said...

so let me be the voice of divergence...

i don't know co-worker but i don't think based solely on the info you provided that co-worker can be labeled a racist without more context. the fact that he assumed temple seems innocent enough. like someone else said maybe that was the first school in philly that came to his mind. i personally didn't realize that temple was predominately black but what does this lil black girl from the south know. and then why o why did i think drexel was the black school? and you know why i thot that, cause i'd never heard of drexel before until i had heard that amaretto and and another of the crew went there. in my head i automatically assumed it was an hbcu. how ig'nant, racist and assuming of me. lol. but its all about the point of reference and maybe you have insight on co-workers point of reference such that it was racist coming from him.

i just think it's interesting what we assume when people say stuff or facial expressions or questions they don't ask. sometimes we combat the assumptions we perceive they are making about us with our own assumptions about them.

as for why this black person when to an hbcu, i'd say both, cause my school is black and because its the best.

Bellini said...

well, sorry for chiming in late -- finally catchin' up on blog stuff. i'm down w/ amaretto on this one, considering i know her employer and the MOs of folks who work there; it's unfortunate that the color of skin is a relevant piece of info-but it is, but check this out...

so one of my colleagues is from Puerto Rico (& used to live in Louisiana) and he overheard my brother went to school in Louisiana -- so where does he assume? Xavier... and there's nothing wrong with that; would i have felt differently if a non-ethnic stated otherwise-maybe/maybe not? context is a mutha-it speaks volumes about a situation

@rummy: hilarious & since i've been to your previous employer and know the neighborhood it's located in... he was being foul... he's the question, did he put that comment out there to illicit a certain response from you or be'cuz he just ain't know no better & ev'ry black women is a form of KeKe?

Amaretto said...

@Mint-I can see how you cold see it that way. Each person brings their own opinions and views of the world. And any person can see something different from their view from here. And when you perceive something different than what I see, that’s when folks have issues.

Bellini knows the type of folks that I work with/for because she’s working with them too. It is a BIG deal that as a young black woman I am not someone’s administrative assistant, because that’s the position most young black women (well black women period) occupy here. And I know (well I am assuming) that me and my position is something co-worker was trying to reconcile because he is from this environment.

Even if Temple was the only school he knew, I think he should have at least asked me where I went, because that’s what people do with people. That’s the respect I would have given him if the role was reversed.

Now if his assumption had been Drexel or UPenn would I have been this adamant? No. But what does it mean when a white man assumes that you went to a predominately Black school? Black school’s reputation not withstanding, I wonder if an assumption is being made based on what he thinks Black people do and don’t do and not on what he knows about Amaretto the person. I think that’s why I was offended.