Here’s an interesting story:
A friend of mine just started working on his MBA at a new school. He’s met a ton of great people so far – cool kids that seem open-minded, progressive, smart as hell, and just totally fun to be around.
The inner core of his new circle of friends (all of whom are White) has been hanging out pretty frequently, doing everything from grabbing drinks to playing Scattergories. A few nights ago, they found themselves in a heated game of Charades. Boys vs. girls. Winner rules the roost.
Girls were up. Person. 5-syllables. Sounds like “llama”. Yep, you guessed it, Barack Obama.
The boys looked on in excitement as one of the girls acted out “mama” to her team. Then one guy, who I actually met and really found to be one the warmest, most easy-going people in the bunch, whispers to my friend, “If we were up, would it be wrong for me to act out a monkey?”
He was serious. Like, he had no idea.
What’s so baffling to me is that I don’t think there’s an intentional racist bone in this guy’s body. No, these racist images are embedded in his mind, and, clearly, he has no idea how supremely destructive they are. To people as sheltered as he, King Kong looks like a big Black guy! Haha! Funny! And better walk fast, because the “ghetto” kids on the corner are probably selling drugs! Because that’s what “ghetto people” do!
Is it racism? Or just totally cluelessness? You tell me.