Old Racist

I’m always fascinated by racists. They have a way of thinking that I can’t comprehend so I’m always trying to figure them out.  I know my experiences living as an immigrant outside of America do not exactly correlate to the racism immigrants in America face. My experiences with prejudice directed at me come from a very different historical background from a person of color or non cis-het background in America. But after learning about Daryl Davis–a Black man who works toward befriending Klansmen–I figure if he can do it, perhaps I could make more of a difference trying to understand them. This woman was the first overt racist I saw outside of the media since I’ve been working to develop this mindset, and I really did look upon her with pity.

By the way, the photo accompanying this post is a stock photo, I was tempted to try to stealthily snap a photo and just blur her face out, but am not so brave. So picture someone who weighs a bit more, had several bags, and had curly disheveled hair. She clearly had some form of mental condition, ranting as she got on the bus about “nigger pimps” and “moving to Utah to make welfare-babies.” This rant was probably set off by a Black man who’d entered the bus soon after her and was laughing at a highschooler’s friend who was trying to embarrass her, but this old crone criticized him as he walked by saying “I don’t find it funny.”

When the bus driver shut the door a bit early on the high schooler resulting in a (hilarious to me) yelp and then laughter from the former passenger, this woman failed to find the humor in it and kept mumbling about the driver being a bitch. Because she was ranting, I’m not even sure the driver or other passengers even heard this, but I wasn’t far from her and deliberately observing.

This woman fascinated me because her life was clearly shit, and so I wonder how it was that she could judge herself as better. My guess is that she was blaming others for the state of her miserable life. That she had an unresolved mental disturbance was clear, and my–admittedly non-professional–diagnosis was that she was ruminating nonstop and that rumination was projected outward, blaming others for how they had wronged her. Just a guess though.

A Black man got on the bus, and I was wondering what was going to happen. Sure enough, after he’d passed, she started muttering the N-word. I wanted to say something but wasn’t sure if he’d even heard and perhaps it’d cause more problems if I said something. After a while, I started talking with this gentleman, and this pissed the woman off. I didn’t hear what she said, but she grew much louder in her ranting, and seemed to be angry that I was talking with him.

When the bus arrived at my workplace, I started to get off and started talking to the other Black man who she thought shouldn’t be laughing. She shook her head as if I was some sort of traitor and she got off there too. We have a senior center here, and it looks like she uses these services so I’ll likely see her again.

There’s probably so many things that have gone wrong in her life, and it’s so frustrating that she will vent like that, but I’m also concerned not just with her over racism, but with whatever ways our community has failed her at getting the help she needs. If she had access to mental healthcare, maybe she wouldn’t ruminate like this, and maybe she would have found ways to not externalize blame. It’s likely whatever illness she faces has also caused problems with her access to employment, healthcare, housing, etc. There are so many things that overlap with poverty. I’m curious if she wouldn’t have been so poor, would she have been so overtly racist? Maybe not. Then again, maybe she would and would just be a high-ranking member of the Republican party.

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