A few weeks ago I was browsing the aisles of Target, just minding  my business.  I can’t remember what exactly I was looking for, but I was rummaging through the clothing section.  My shopping partner was a few feet away from me looking at the purses and hats.  As I was lost in my thoughts, I felt a woman tap me on the shoulder.

“Excuse me miss, do you know if there are any more of these coats in the back?” a random white woman asked me.

I turned around and looked at her.  And gave her the biggest sigh ever, before I replied, “I do not work here”.  She looked at me and then scurried off.

I walked over to my friend and told him about the incident. I also mentioned the other times random white people have approached me asking  for help as if I work in the various stores I patronize.  My friend then pointed at my red shirt that I was wearing.  That’s when it dawned on me. In this particular instance, maybe I wasn’t confused for the “help” because I was black, but because I was wearing the typical red Target-looking shirt.

Ok, so white lady won that time.

But I couldn’t help but to think about all of the other times rando white people have approached me in stores asking for help.  But  maybe they also approach white people and I just don’t know it?  When  you’re so used to dealing with racism, whether subtle or in your face, sometimes your defenses can be up, and the situation may not be racial at all.

For example, another shopping incident involved my sister and my baby niece. A random white woman approached my sister and attempted to compliment the baby.

“Aww, she reminds me of a Monchichi,” the lady said.

Now my sister, not knowing what a Monchichi was, tells the woman just that, but also said thank you and walked away.  My sister then gets home and googles “Monchichi”. She then IM’d me and told me the story.

“Did this b*tch just call my baby a monkey? That’s racist!” she wrote.

See, apparently even though we grew up in the same house, we didn’t watch the same cartoons as kids.  I told her well that I doubt she called her baby a monkey. She probably thought a Monchichi was cute, and that my  niece looked like one.

Truth be told, after a few minutes of IM’ing, my sister wrote back,

“Well, I guess she does favor one a bit”.

But the funny thing with mistaking things for racism when they’re not, is that there’s no mistaking the lack of tact people have.  My grandmother always told me that some white people (hold your seats, here’s a generalization) have no tact what-so-ever.  Technically that statement in its own, could be considered problematic, but I have yet to hear another black person say, “all black people look a like”.  I also doubt a black person would dare compare a black baby to a Monchichi.

But who am I fooling, sometimes shit is just what is it, racism. With a capital “R”. But it’s up to the person on how they react to individual situations.

Clutchettes, have you ever been in a situation that you thought was “racist” but turned out it wasn’t?

  • Kiki

    The couple of times this happened to me I was wearing a coat. Why would I be wearing a coat at work?! lol

  • apple

    i have a case i have experienced.. We are a restaurant, and the owners/waiters are so happy to see the white people there, always at their table, smiling, excited for them to be there, and barely come to our table or act like our table (and all the other black tables) is the chopping block..and its not like we are loud or mean or dressed poorly.. this has happened a couple times at a black restaurant, a sushi bar and a white one

    • rain

      always happens

  • Me

    the monkey thing… hell nah. but i did accidentally do the shopping thing to a white man in the container store. & it even took me a minute to realize b/c he didn’t roll his eyes or give me attitude like i woulda did him. what happened was i was looking for 2 of something & only saw one on the shelf, then out the corner of my eye i see this dude walking up to a shelf with a bunch of merchandise in his hands, so i think i must’ve figured he was putting it away. so i asked him if there was any more of what i was looking for in other parts of the store. he looked at the shelf where i got the one i had in my hand, and he goes “no, i think that’s the last one”… so i thought he was just a lazy employee & asked him to check the back for me. that’s when he was like “i wouldn’t be able to do that because i don’t work here”. then it dawned on me that i never even noticed his clothes looked NOTHING like the store uniform at all. of course in my head i was like “what you doing walking around w/o a cart carrying all that stuff looking suspicious and all for” but out my mouth i apologized & went to the counter to ask somebody i knew for sure worked there. lol

  • Dwane

    Nice article. My concern is that the first thing you thought of is this women is asking for help solely because you’re black. What does that say about our society? Are we so concern about racism, that we see it everywhere, even when it’s not present, just to confirm that racism is happening.

  • rain

    I was in target (hollywood) trying on belts in the mirror, I had my purse in the basket with some jewelry I was going to buy. I was dressed in jeans and a patterned top, flipflops, and a sweater. This old white man asks me, I can’t remember exactly, but it was something you ask a worker, similar to what the white woman asked you. I looked at him and said: “I don’t work here, I’m trying on belts, you need to look for those people in uniform (pointing to the people right in back of me by the aisle) with the red top and khakis, they work here.” He looked at them and turned right back to me and asked me another question like I worked there, I carted off away from him. He was with his adult son/grandson/whoever who didn’t stop him from bothering me.