Sometimes, a hidden kind of racism makes me smile – but only if the racist loses!

I saw a bit of racism on a brownstone street in New York. But the racist lost!

You might find it hard to believe, but sometimes racism makes me laugh.

I mean the kind of racism people people don’t even know is racism and when people who display it don’t even know they’re racists.

Two memories come to mind every time racism is mentioned.

The first was one day, when I was listening to the radio, and a presenter was talking to a gang of kids in a Dublin suburb.

He was asking them their names and some fairly innocuous questions.

Then he came to this kid.

“Where are you from?” he asked the boy.

“Finglas” (I think) came the answer.

And then, displaying the kind of in-built racism we hear so much about today, the presenter added another question: “But where are you originally from?”

And the lad answered straight away: “I’m adopted.”

Dead air and silence from the clearly uncomfortable presenter.

Harmless? Well, certainly an great deal less harmful than what we’re seeing in the US right now. But nonetheless, it must have made the kid feel different.

Racism also brings me back to a sunny afternoon in New York, my favourite place on earth sometime in the eighties.

I have no idea why I was in New York on this occasion. But I certainly had an afternoon off.

And I spent it wandering around, something I loved to do in Manhattan.

I was up on the West Side, strolling down one of those lovely streets, lined with brownstone buildings.

And this particular display of almost hidden racism, made me smile in the end.

As I strolled down this street, there was a woman a few paces ahead of me. A white woman. A well-dressed white woman.

I noticed her begin to stare around as if she was uncomfortable, nervous about something. And then I saw what it was.

About 100 yards away, heading towards us on the same footpath, was a tall black man.

He was tall, smartly dressed and strolling slowly in our direction.

The woman appeared to get more and more nervous and fidgety with every step the man took.

I was only a few paces behind her and couldn’t really understand what was making her behave the way she was.

She certainly made no effort to hide her worries.

He got closer and closer and then, just as he got level with her he turned towards her and said “BOO.”

She almost leapt out of her skin.

Within seconds the man was level with me.

He looked me in the eyes, shrugged his shoulders and laughed quietly.

He had, clearly, seen the woman displaying her fear and it was clear to him, and me, that her worries were prompted by the colour of his skin and nothing else.

Not the racism of a policeman kneeling on a neck, not the racism of the kind Donald Trump displays,  but racism nonetheless.

And while she was no doubt horrified by his “BOO” and while it probably confirmed every prejudice she ever had, I know and so did he, that this time, the racist lost.


1 thought on “Sometimes, a hidden kind of racism makes me smile – but only if the racist loses!

  1. gerryfloyd



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