I was flying out one time to do a gig and I was at the airport checking my luggage with the porter outside. I got to the front of the line and the porter was a black guy. He looked at me and said, “Don’t hurt me now!”
Being that he was a pretty big dude and I being the not-so-big-dude that I am, figured he was making a joke, so I laughed. And he says, “No, I’m not kidding!”
I’m like, “Sorry, what?”
He says, “People that look like you don’t like people that look like me.”
Thoroughly confused, I’m thinking, “Did someone draw a swastika on my forehead while I was asleep? Did someone pin a confederate flag to my back?”
Now, I’m in a line full of people. This guy’s got total control of where my bags end up. And he thinks I’m going to get all racist on him? Like I’m going to say, “Them bags are going to Arkansas! Don’t mess it up, Darkie!”
That, to me, sounds like a surefire way for your bags to end up in Vanuatu.
For Pete’s sake I was wearing a t-shirt with Prince on it. How would I be pegged for a racist?
And that’s the thing about a lot of racism. Maybe one time some dude that looks like me did something racist to this guy and now he’s afraid of me.
And of course, now I have to tip him like a guilty white man to avoid looking racist. So he was either terribly mistaken or crazy like a fox.
I think most racism is just fear. Maybe you get mugged by a black guy one time and two years later you find yourself in a thrift store looking for a sheet you can cut some eye holes in.
I mean, you don’t want to go to Macy’s for that. You don’t want to spend a lot of money of 800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets just to cut eye holes in them.
There’s probably some dude out there rocking satin sheets, but to each their own.
Anyway, the moral of the story here is if you’re going to fear someone else, make sure you have a good reason to do so and aren’t just accessing some old experience.
Here’s another experience… I was in downtown Los Angeles, standing in front of the comedy club I was playing that night. I was leaned against the wall and was looking down at my phone, my hair obscuring my face.
A group of 3 or 4 black guys walks past me and I don’t look up because I was in the middle of reading a facebook post. One of the guys says, “Hey baby, you just gonna ignore me when I walk by like that?”
Now, do I look up and flash him the facial hair? If perchance he were homophobic or intoxicated (Friday night in downtown LA after all), then the situation could suddenly be my fault somehow. I don’t really want to get gay bashed when I’m not even gay. (And I can’t think of any jokes on that premise right now that Moshe Kasher hasn’t already done in his great bit. But I couldn’t find a video of it to show you.)
So my other option was to continue to ignore the guy and hope he kept walking which he did. Apparently he’s used to being ignored by women with lines like that.
But my response wasn’t due to his ethnicity. It was due to his size and girth and our location. I would have reacted the same to a similarly sized white dude (who probably WOULD have had a confederate flag on his back).
After the moment had passed, my first thought was, “I just got hit on by a black dude. My ass must be getting fat.”
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