03 February 2012

My racist liberal ex-boyfriend

Sometimes we on the political left tend to think that racial prejudice is the realm of those on the right. Indeed, the Southern Strategy was designed by Republicans, and Rush Limbaugh let his bigotry show through loud and clear when he played a little song called "Barack the Magic Negro" for his audience.

But, sadly, sometimes liberals show signs of their own bigotry. One such discovery a few years ago was painful for me personally. I was reminded of it just recently when I saw former boyfriend at a distance at my local supermarket.

I had dated Jim (not his real name) for a couple of months, and he seemed like a good match - tall, attractive, intelligent, liberal, and a strong environmental advocate. But then he started complaining a great deal about a woman he worked with. Whenever he complained about her actions, he mentioned that she was black.

Then, one day, I was treated badly by someone and complained to Jim about it. His first reaction: "Is she black?"

I asked him why he would assume such a thing, and he said that all of the difficult people he knows are black.

Since he works at the main headquarters of a major corporation, I know he must interact daily with people of various races, some of whom are good people and some of whom are perhaps not so nice. But I never heard him complain about someone whom he described as white. And I never heard him say anything nice about a person of color.

I don't call it coincidence, I call it prejudice. When I mentioned how uncomfortable it made me feel, he got defensive. He tried to defend his distrust of people of color. And he shrugged off my attempts to point out that some white people also do terrible things.

And so I stopped seeing him.

And so, when I saw him at the store last week, I turned quickly and walked the other way.

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