I had a conversation yesterday (Feb 1) with a white guy close to my age. We don’t know each other. It was a casual interaction that was business related and yet allowed for a lengthy friendly chat. At some point he said he didn’t like hearing about “racial” stuff or “sexist” stuff because “if you work hard you can achieve anything.” He said this remark in response to his telling me about a black man he encountered on the west side of Atlanta. The man spoke about racism and this guy didn’t like it. He continued this “non racial” discussion by saying he grew up poor and got an advanced degree so he didn’t want to hear about it.
And he spoke these words without hint of hostility in his tone. It was a friendly, seemingly positive, matter-of-fact way of dismissing the experiences of other black people and women. Then he said “you may not agree.” I replied, “I don’t but we don’t need to keep talking about it.” Some things aren’t worth rattling my Serenity.
It’s hard to deal with well educated folks who have traveled but are also simultaneously uninterested in the experiences of others. I also found it ironic that he has an advanced degree in geography. And yet the idea that Atlanta traffic and the actual geography of this city being directly related to Jim Crow, was something he didn’t want to hear about.