“I need to stop looking away and unpack my own reaction.”

My fellow blogger and friend, GirlGriot used that gem to describe her gut reaction to something. You can read all about it here.

I was telling a few friends a story of a crazy event that occurred over a year ago. I’ve told this story to several different friends over time, in the same way so I was not thinking about it as i told this group. At least I wasn’t thinking about it until a friend called me out on a racist comment that flew out of my mouth. I took a mental step back for a moment, but she was right. What I had said, even jokingly, was racist. I know it was a not-so-charming stereotype learned from my mother, among other places where such stereotypes are fostered, while I growing up. Still, I had not realized how deep that nasty little bug had dug in it came flying out.

As I said, I’ve told this story before to others in the same manner. I can’t decide if no one else ever noticed it before, or if they had, chose not to say anything. Neither option sits well with me, but the latter especially galls me. Once called on it, I owned up to it, because it was what it was. I know my friends know me better than that. What scares me is that it has been there all this time and I even I had not noticed to check myself.

I’m left wondering what other nasty little deep-rooted gems are waiting to come out and bite me. I’m praying that if it’s something I don’t notice, that it does not take over a year before I’m called out on it.

9 thoughts on “Unpacking

  1. If that housekeeper thought that hearing “Dixie” would make GirlGriot and her friend feel at home, she obviously had a very limited knowledge of American history. Although it seems unbelievable that she wouldn’t know what the antebellum (and even postbellum) South was about, we probably need to realize that there’s plenty that WE don’t know about British history.

    • “…we probably need to realize that there’s plenty that WE don’t know about British history.” A big “Yep!” on that one. I’m sure we Americans have said, done something that made someone across the pond eyes roll in the back of their head. It all evens out.

  2. This is such a tough one. We can’t work on what we don’t know/don’t see. Those little treasures learned in childhood have a way of sneaking up on us throughout adulthood. But at least we’re open to making change. We don’t get called on bad behavior and then say something like: “Oh, that was a term we used when I was growing up. It had a different meaning then,” the way certain to-be-left-unnamed pols do when they let fly some old school ugly. Willingness to change is the all-important separator!

  3. Well, now I’m racking my brain as to if I heard the story or not, what it might be. I know I would have said something, provided I didn’t wait until the end of the story and then get sidetracked, which, er… happens. But know I’ve shared with you the story of the horrible thing I said once, as GirlGriot mentions above- a term I’d heard used as a kid before I knew what part of it meant. The same peculiar situation arose- someone playing Ding Dong Ditch (as I had to look up other names for what that was called), and there it was, promptly horrifying me and everyone else. I own that it happened to the point where I bring it up when I needn’t- as a cautionary tale, most of all to myself. I just note that no matter how the button was wired when it was installed, it can be reversed, rerouted, rewired. Spirit willing. Which in both of our cases, it is. (:

    • Oddly enough, I’m not sure I told you the story. That’s a vortex conversation. I’m pretty sure you would have censured me appropriately and quickly.

      “…no matter how the button was wired when it was installed, it can be reversed, rerouted, rewired.” Yes.

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