Stop using the term ‘racist’ unless you’re sure it is
Empty accusations on race can make you lose all credibility
This post was originally published on Medium on February 25, 2020.
I sat quietly in the condo association meeting, listening to the goals of our new management company, budget estimates and building repairs. I kept my promise to defend a neighbor whose rental car had been towed twice. Right after I asked about temporary car stickers, that’s when another owner said something that caught my attention: “Someone left a racist sign on our doors.”
My ears perked up immediately. Who would have the audacity to leave racist signs in a condo building like mine — a building with every single race on the Census questionnaire? The audacity! Tell me who right now. I said none of this, but she had my full attention.
She followed up by explaining that someone left signs asking tenants and owners to not let visitors park in their reserved parking spots. I waited for the racism. She pointed out that these were “kids” who parked in the spots. (They were in their early 20s; I disagree with the term “kids.”) I was still waiting on the racism. And then she stopped talking. Finally, I spoke up, “Where is the racism in this?” Her response: “The sign described what they looked like. It said they were Black and Hispanic.” Still, I’m waiting on the racism.