I guess I should be used to being the in the minority. I should probably already know what to say and what not to say. I’ve been in this situation since I was a child. I still remember being in those classrooms surrounded by 25 white kids with only 2 or 3 kids from other ethnicities. Before I moved to Lodi, I grew up thinking that Whites were offended by racist jokes. My parents warned me not to say those types of jokes because I wouldn’t like it if they said that to me. I didn’t listen.
At school I was the only Black person in a mostly White class. I told comedic jokes about White people and they all chuckled. However, a white person told a racist joke about Black people and it really pissed me off, though everyone was laughing. Due to my offense, I told the appropriate titles, but they did nothing. There weren’t any disciplinary actions. Instead they spoke to the classes and warned us about respect each other cultures. That was it.
When I got home, I told my parents. I thought I would get some sympathy, but even though they were offended by the other kids joke, they were more disappointed in me because I had used a similar racist joke. My parents made a valid point, “How can you be mad at them when you just did the same thing? This is what we were trying to tell you.”
The lesson I learned from this experience was no one is going to respect your culture, if you don’t respect their culture. That was one of my first “treat those the way you want to be treated” lessons. I stopped using using racist jokes, though that never stopped racist jokes from being directed towards me. More on that in another post.
Once I started respecting other cultures and educating myself about their cultures, I noticed I was able to show people how to respect my culture and I started getting more friends. Then I noticed something interesting—White people would be disappointed at other White people using the n-word or making fun of Blacks. Even to this day, I can only theorize that maybe their affection for me hurt them when I was hurt. Or maybe they were disappointed in their people when they tell those jokes for the same reasons my parents were disappointed at me.