Nothing offends me more than when people assume that just because I’m white, I tolerate racism and racist comments. The other night, when Paulette was out and Nancy and I were having our chat, she out of the blue asked me if it bothered me to live with a black person. I was gobsmacked and responded with “no, why, what about you?” She then said she was surprised when she arrived and if I had been black as well, she would have found another place to live. Glad to know she likes me based on my best qualities, hey? I was then asked if black people were different than white people in the States, which I was again taken a bit aback by. How does one respond? Yes, in some ways, we do have different culture and we tend to unnecessarily segregate ourselves from each other, but are we different…no, not really. Of course, I didn’t mention any of this to Paulette, because she doesn’t need to know. It wouldn’t do any good. She could kick Nancy out, and be left feeling hurt by the experience, since (despite some heated fights over “the rules” and the food) Nancy has befriended Paulette and vice versa. In some situations, ignorance is better.
My gaydar seems to be completely off over here. The men who I think are gay turn out to be straight as an arrow and the ones who wouldn’t raise an eyebrow…are. Overall, Leeds does seem to be a very tolerant city, which is good, but I’ve been told that small town England is as closed-minded as redneck America. Speaking of rednecks, the phrase came up last night when we were sitting around at B’s apartment (one of my fellow students, who is from Slovenia). One of her male friends, who is of Pakistani origin (but born in England) was talking about his experiences with white British people in his hometown. What was interesting was that the English student, S, immediately assumed redneck was a reference to working class people. She and I had been talking earlier comparing class-ism in England and America. There’s much to learn.