09.02.10 Bus-Stop Bigotry
This evening, I was waiting for a bus at Takoma Station. I found myself sitting on a bench between two African American women, one of whom is a neighbor from two doors away, whom I’ve met and talked with several times.
Our conversation turned to the mayor’s race in in DC. Though these are both Marylanders, the women were in passionate agreement with DC’s African-American community: Adrian Fenty (the mayor) and Michelle Rhee (the schools chancellor) have got to go. After a bit, the woman I didn’t know burst out with: “That woman [Rhee], needs to get back to Korea.”
“But she’s American,” I sputtered, absolutely astounded. “She was born and raised here.”
The woman repeated her statement.
“How is this different than someone’s commanding you to go back to Africa?” I asked.
“It’s completely different,” she said, while my neighbor — who makes a point of telling people how much time she spends in church and thanks god several times an hour — nodded in agreement.
“But this is bigotry,” I declared. “How can you be bigoted?!”
I got blank stares.
My neighbor, incidentally, has lived in Japan and speaks Japanese. And she wants to send Korean-Americans “home.”
I always want to believe that bigotry is too bizarre to actually be real, so I never expect it. My naivite — my inability to grasp the entire phenomenon — keeps setting me up for devestating disappointment.
Perhaps I’ll become inured to it at some point.
I hope not.
©2010 Keith Berner