In light of recent events in Jena, Louisiana, I’ve started to take notice of racism as it pertains to my own life here in Newark, NJ. There has always been enough of it for me to take notice, mainly in the workplace.
My first job, at age 16, was a clerical position for rent-collections. I worked in an office, where the majority of the people in the department were black. The remainder were made up of a few whites and a few hispanics/latinos. I wasn’t at that job for more than a month before the department boss called a meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to quell any negative vibes due to a stack of racially motivated,derogatory pamphlets which mysteriously appeared in our office. As a teen, I found them rather funny. Like most people (I hope!) in present times, I find racism rather silly, and I usually pity the racist more than the victim of racism; there are obvious exceptions of course! My older coworkers found very little humor in the pamphlets, and saw it as their duty to give us young people a talk. That was the first time I encountered silliness at work. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last.
The second time, at age 21, I worked in a warehouse for Roseart, where I started out as a material handler, and worked my way up through the ranks of inventory, inventory-controller, MIS assistant, ending up as a head clerk for one of the major departments. The whole time I was there, I had to deal with two people who made it clear how they felt about “colored people”. As they were much older than I, again, I found it silly and took pity on their pitiful lives.
The third time, at age 27, I was working as a prep guy in the paint department at Toyota, about 30 minutes up the road from where I lived at the time. I worked with one guy, pent up in a garage. The guy was blantantly racist, to the point where I didn’t find it harmless and silly anymore. And when he once crossed the line with me, pulling a “prank” where I could have been hurt, I had to physically threaten him. Threatening people, or feeling that I have to threaten someone, is not my bag. So even though I liked the job, I had to leave. Had I ended up in a fight with him, while I’d stomp his skinny ass into the asphalt, in the end I’d lose. That particular town wasn’t known for it’s tolerance for tanned folk, and I was still the “new guy”.
Presently, I work with a few guys who’s humanity are rather suspect. With the majority of the few, one would have to listen carefully in order to pick up the funny comments here and there. That kind of cowardice I can overlook. It does me little harm. And overall, I expect it from people their age. Mainly because I expect very little from most people. There’s only one guy in the house that gets on my nerves, and it’s because I’m confused by the fact that this guy is only 35 or 36 years old, but he talks like it’s 1955 in Mississippi. And what bugs me the most is that he’s the biggest coward of them all. When the kind of person he talks shit about is not around, one can expect to hear all kinds of derogatory terminology without fail. However, when the object of his racism is around, he’s as quiet as a mouse. Pure fucking coward.
I don’t really know where I meant to go with this, as it’s after 10pm, and I’m sitting here in the kitchen of my firehouse exhausted after a long day. (Nine more hours to go!)
PS. Fuck the dumb shit.