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A credit to my Race: Do you consider this racist

 
 
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 02:33 pm
Received a very strange compliment today from an elderly gentleman who dropped his wallet while attempting to put it back in his pocket.

I was behind him in line at a gas station/convenience store and I picked up his wallet and said something like "sir you dropped your wallet" in which he was very grateful and said "thank you young man you are a credit to your race".

I didn't think anything of it at the time, but on the ride home I recalled a couple of times I'd heard this before from teachers,classmates,etc. It always made me feel like they were patting me on the head for some behavior they didn't think I had.

I'm sure this man had no clue what race I am by looking at me. The only thing he could've known is that I'm non-white, which isn't entirely true.

I am just curious do white people ever get that kind of compliment ? And would you consider it to be a racist comment if you were me (half-blood Narragansett Indian/half-white) ?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 6,779 • Replies: 39
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edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 02:35 pm
Sounds pretty condescending to me.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 02:38 pm
Yeh... I wouldn't like it. Confused
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Sofia
 
  2  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 02:42 pm
I would hazard a bet the man (taking into account his age) was paying you a compliment.

But, I also believe you are correct: that statement is evidence that that man didn't think your race was likely to produce kind, helpful people. (No matter what he thought your race might be.)

The poor man would have been appalled and shocked if you had taken offense to his statement. A neat response: A sincere smile and "I'm sure you are, too."

WELCOME TO A2K!!!
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 03:15 pm
"I'm sure you are too", what a great comeback, although I would guess the fellow would be confused by it.

I can barely remember that sometimes my mother said something like that to me about someone. I should explain that I am sixty and that was a long time ago. I do agree that it was meant to be nice but is actually born of a kind of unconscious condescension.
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CerealKiller
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 03:27 pm
Sofia wrote:
I would hazard a bet the man (taking into account his age) was paying you a compliment.

But, I also believe you are correct: that statement is evidence that that man didn't think your race was likely to produce kind, helpful people. (No matter what he thought your race might be.)

The poor man would have been appalled and shocked if you had taken offense to his statement. A neat response: A sincere smile and "I'm sure you are, too."

WELCOME TO A2K!!!




While I'm sure he meant it as a compliment, I just thought it was a strange comment. I can't imagine a situation where I would say that to anyone.

Hence I didn't have a good comeback like yours. Now I feel like George on Seinfeld when he was told 'George the ocean called and said they're running out of shrimp'. Very Happy
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 03:31 pm
Cereal, I want to welcome you to A2k too. Have fun here...
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CerealKiller
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 03:35 pm
ossobuco wrote:
Cereal, I want to welcome you to A2k too. Have fun here...


Thank you and Sofia for the welcome. I just stumbled upon the site last night and was very intrigued by it. Looks like fun.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 03:39 pm
CerealKiller wrote:
Hence I didn't have a good comeback like yours. Now I feel like George on Seinfeld when he was told 'George the ocean called and said they're running out of shrimp'. Very Happy


Hee hee!

I agree with Osso, though, that the actual use of such a quip may be limited.

Does political correctness have to come into this? Rolling Eyes It was an impolite thing to say, no matter the motivation -- it would also have been impolite to go medieval on his ass, but being bothered is certainly understandable.

(Welcome from me as well! Enjoying your posts thus far -- like the "Fridays in Hell" joke! Shocked)
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CerealKiller
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 04:10 pm
[
Does political correctness have to come into this? Rolling Eyes It was an impolite thing to say, no matter the motivation -- it would also have been impolite to go medieval on his ass, but being bothered is certainly understandable.

(Welcome from me as well! Enjoying your posts thus far -- like the "Fridays in Hell" joke! Shocked)[/quote]

I'm sure you're probably right. I've learned not to overreact to any slights both real or imagined. Glad you enjoyed the joke and thanks for the welcome.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 04:10 pm
CerealKiller

Congratulations on your response !

Any remark citing "race" is by definition "racist", however IMO prejudice (both positive and negative) is an instinctive psychological disposition which reduces information overload.
Like other primates we are essential tribal with the tendency to evoke stereotypes of "us" and "them". Whole stereotypes are evoked by partial identity information in the same way that physical objects are "recognized" by only part being visible.(visibility being a key property - hence yellow badges for Jews in Nazi era) Of course we may modify our concepts by additional experiences but the initial viewpoint tends to set up perceptual set which is reinforced when things go "as expected". However, your encounter was on its own unlikely to alter the prejudices of your respondent since his remark implied that you were the exception that proved the rule.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 04:33 pm
I haven't heard that expression in many years certainly not since the beginning of the civil rights movement and PC came into vogue. I am sure that the gentleman's motive was not to insult but was meant as a complement. I have heard the same expression, many long years ago used by whites on whites. It was just an expression with no hidden meaning. Today PC rules the world and we always seem to be looking for a hidden meaning. PC's paranoia has taken over.
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CodeBorg
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 04:35 pm
Like most personal statements, it tells us more about the speaker than the recipient.

In another culture, the statement might have been phrased "You are a credit to your family". Or to your school, village, or company. What would you *like* to be a credit to? What kind of glasses would you like people to wear when they look at you?


-----
Don't listen to strangers. They are strange.
But not nearly strange enough for me to call them a friend.
0 Replies
 
Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 05:04 pm
I love your comeback, Cereal. Tend to scoot past these things when they are said by the older generation, or make a joke out of them, myself. But can't STAND categorization of this kind. Women get it a lot, too.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 07:09 pm
CerealKiller- Welcome to A2K! Very Happy

I think that you were caught, unawares, in a time warp. In the bad old days before the civil rights movement, a remark like that from a white to a black was considered a high compliment. Now we realize that it is horribly condescending.

Coming from an elderly person, I think that you can understand that what he said was meant to be positive.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 07:18 pm
I think people are mixing up CerealKiller's response with Sophia's....
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kev
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2003 05:46 am
Hi cereal,

Whilst he may not have meant to be offensive his remark nevertheless was.Unless he has been in a coma for the last thirty odd years surely he cant have failed to notice that there has been a complete change in all matters concerning race. Can he?
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the prince
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2003 06:07 am
kev wrote:
.....he cant have failed to notice that there has been a complete change in all matters concerning race. Can he?


Dunno abt the US, but I am not sure if this holds true in the UK....
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2003 06:13 am
I gotta go with Kev on this.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2003 06:44 am
My father, who was quite fond of quoting movies, used to say this all the time about people. He stole it from the movie "In The Heat of The Night". Rod Steiger says to Sidney Poitier "Virgil, you're a credit to your race - I mean the human race."

Maybe you ran into my dad's ghost, or just someone like-minded.
0 Replies
 
 

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