Saturday, May 03, 2008

Our Inter-Racial Relationship Adventures

The German and I have been together for nearly eight years now. We have a great relationship that's founded on respect, admiration and love. There is nothing that I couldn't or wouldn't trust leaving in his hands. He is authorized to make any medical or financial decisions for me if ever I become incapacitated. If my death occurs while VanGoghGirl is still a child, he will be her legal guardian and continue to raise her as his daughter. So, I think it's safe to say that have a lot of confidence in his ability to know what sort of decisions I'd want him to make. Still, every once in awhile something happens that makes me scratch my head and wonder just who the heck it is I'm living with.

Two days ago, The German told me that he found some shirts in his size online. That's really great news because he can almost never find clothes his size in the stores. On one of those big & tall sites, he found some sports t-shirts with a big NFL team logo on the front of each of them. Later that night, when we were both sitting across from each other on our computers, he asked me to turn around to look at the shirts that he ordered. One was a New Orleans Saints shirt. The second was a Green Bay Packers shirt and the third one was a Washington Redskins shirt. Yeah, that's right--a Washington Redskins shirt.

At first, I looked at him really hard to see if he was just kidding around with me. He clicked onto the next shirt and then proceeded to tell me how great this site was and how he's going to order even more stuff from them if this initial order works out well. I interrupted him and said, "Wait a minute. Did you really order a Redskins shirt?"

His response was, "Yeah, they didn't have a lot of teams to choose from so I just got the Redskins one because the color looked pretty good." I was completely gob-smacked. I couldn't believe he just wasn't getting it. He truly didn't see anything amiss in this conversation.

Feeling really puzzled, I said "Dude, a Redskins shirt. Come on! You gotta be kidding me! You don't see anything wrong with that?" Suddenly it dawned on him. A look of realization and embarrassment went across his face as he recognized what I was getting at.

Looking a bit sheepish, he said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I guess I could exchange it for another one if you want me to." If I want him to. Can you believe that? It felt like I was in the middle of a Twilight Zone episode.

I told him, "Look, you can keep the shirt if you want to. I'm just not going to ever go anywhere with you wearing it." He apologized profusely and started clicking around on the site to find a phone number he could call to cancel his order.

Sometimes I think that white privilege is really the bane of my existence. *sigh*


Trinity said...

Wait wait wait, so they weren't even his team and he bought it? Weeeird. I can't really imagine an adult just picking that shirt at random... whaaaaa?

bint alshamsa said...

Well, we're not exactly fashion-inclined at our house. The both of us will basically wear any t-shirt and jean combination that's clean and fits. And he has been pretty desperate to find clothes his size--he's six feet four inches tall and very heavy set. However, I'd have thought there were limits to our lackadaisical attitude towards clothes. I mean, you can be sure you'd never catch him wearing a shirt with Farrakhan or Hitler on the front. Those images would have been immediately recognized as ethically problematic.

I think--and it's only my beliefs--that being white makes it easy for one to ignore the implications of some imagery. Though we have been together all these years and he never ceases to amaze me with his complex and critical analyses of whiteness and racism, the power of white privilege is so strong that even the most de-programmed white person can (will?) occasionally slip back into the tranquilizing comfort that makes it possible for incidents like this one to occur.

Ravenmn said...

"I think--and it's only my beliefs--that being white makes it easy for one to ignore the implications of some imagery. "

Oh yes, very much so. We've been trained so well to overlook this shit. I find myself falling into this trap no matter how hard I try to be aware.

Much love to you for pointing it out and kudos to him for recognizing our (white people's) blindness.

BLESSD1 said...

Honestly, in reading this, it took me a sec to tune into what was wrong with his purchase. Often, I think a lot of us have been program to overlook this type of stuff.

Tasha said...

Hello. As a fellow woman in a relationship with a German man -- I agree. .. sometimes you are left scratching your head! There are some things, no matter how hard you try, you just cannot translate easily or painlessly.

As a Seneca (Native American) woman, I applaud you for for sending out the mental equivalent of a slap on the head about the whole *shudder* Redskins tshirt incident. I get tired of trying to explain to some people why that is offensive.


Renegade Evolution said...

tell him to get a Vikings one instead...

or an animal team, like maybe the Eagles, Bengals, Broncos, Dolphins...there are a lot of 'em out there...

I can't believe the redskins are still the redskins...

whatsername said...

Hey Bint,

Was crossing my fingers hoping you might have something you'd like to contribute to the next edition of the Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom of Autonomy. I know you're busy, but if you have the time and are so inclined, I'd love to get some of your thoughts on the topic.

Anonymous said...

I think there may be more than one way to look at (or to not look at) something like this; and it seems to me that the important thing is that you have a respectful relationship and are responsive to each other.

A name like The Redskins strikes me more as ridiculous than intended as a racial slur - I mean, the Caucasian ridiculous equivalent would be The Whiteskins, which sounds not only silly but not so good looking!

But when you grow up and from the time you're a little kid, from before you remember, you hear "Redskins" repeated thousands of times in sports broadcasts and news, it can be easy not to hear the non-sports level of meaning when you're not identified with any particular ethnic group yourself.

Breez said...

At you can blame his issue simply on being oblivious.

As a person who now lives in the DC area, I LOVE to hear black people defend the use of that name. They look baffled when I suggest they change the name to the Washington Porch Monkeys, or better yet the Spear Chuckers. There is actually one ignorant ass negro that goes by the name of Chief Zee or some shit, complete with a headress and a tomahawk. Are you shitting me? Nothing like watching marginalized people exploit and/or belittle other marginalized people.

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