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Friday, October 07, 2005
Yes, that's right: I got called "cracker" on the subway platform this morning. Two and a half years I've been living in Historically Black Neighborhood, and although I'm sure there are people who have thought negative things about me before, simply based on the fact that I'm a young white woman, no one's said a word. Generally, if I get any kind of comment, it's along the lines of, "hey there Snowflake--lookin' good!" Even the Nation of Islam dudes just look right through me.
So yeah. I was minding my own business, walking briskly down the subway platform as a train was pulling in, trying to get to the car that would deposit me nearest the appropriate staircase at the train station, and as I walked past this 40ish woman, she spat, "Cracker!" And I did the whole, "huh? me?" thing, turning around as she turned back to face stonily forward, but sneaking a look at me out of the corner of her eye, and. . . I burst out laughing. We wound up in the same subway car, and I was just grinning for most of the ride, which I'm sure completely pissed her off.
Unless I accidentally trod on her foot and somehow didn't notice it, I didn't do anything to this woman (and she didn't seem visibly crazy or Tourrettic)--but, who knows. Maybe her rent has doubled because the neighborhood is gentrifying, or her son married a white woman, or the other white woman on the platform DID step on her foot. It could have been anything.
The point is, I started wondering why the whole thing struck me as so funny, and I think it comes down to that word. It just. . . doesn't mean anything to me. I've never been called a cracker, I've never been worried about being thought a cracker, and therefore it has no force. It's a symptom, I suppose, of white priviledge: you can't call me by a negative stereotype, because I haven't lived in a world where those stereotypes have been thrown in my face, and so I can't possibly take you seriously when you say such a thing. I would have had the same reaction if she had called me a Dago or a Pollack--my family's so removed from the ethnic ghetto, and frankly from ethnic identification, that it's just not a relevant epithet. But if I were black, or hispanic, or Asian, or Muslim, and she had spat out a suitable slur--well, I'm sure I would have felt very differently.
(Indeed, the only epithet that I could come up with that might have bothered me, even briefly, would have been something like "uppity bitch"; gender-based comments can get at me in ways that race and ethnicity can't.)
link | posted by La Lecturess at 1:29 PM |
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