Found out this weekend that someone I admire, a person I previously viewed as a bastion of common sense and kindness, holds a belief that I do not.
We were talking about folks that were behaving badly at a restaurant we had recently visited, and the one person in the group that was well-behaved was an infant, definitely younger than 2 years of age who happened to be mixed-race.
The person I was with made a statement about how he was against mixing of the races, and how genetic bloodlines should remain pure.
I was rendered speechless. I honestly thought that maybe he was pulling my leg, or cracking a joke that was in particularly bad taste.
It turns out that he wasn’t. The subject was quickly changed by another person in our group… and it was right before all of us parted ways for the evening. I was so dumbfounded to hear that come out of his mouth that I didn’t argue or raise a point beyond my initial saying of an inarticulate “Wha?!”
I talked to BHK once we were home, and she said that she saw the disappointment and sadness in my face as soon as that opinion was uttered. It’s weird – I used to have a great deal of respect for this person, and love is still there, but the respect is seriously cracked and smashed. He’s got so many good qualities, and it’s an easy thing to say that he’s a creature of his time and upbringing… but he’s so otherwise intelligent and experienced in human social interaction, cultural behavior and just friggin’ science that he has to know better.
I viewed this guy as a mentor. I was hopeful about being wrong to the degree of internally rationalizing his behavior – “how hard it might be to be a biracial kid” said poorly – but upon reflection, I really don’t think that was the point he was making.
I mentioned it to SM this morning, and SM said that it was akin to seeing a dinosaur… something we just don’t see every day. He thinks that folks like that are an anomaly. I’m not as positive. I think that racist stuff will likely always be around in one way or another, and continue to be a common belief by many over several generations to come.
I’m glad we’re getting better – Hell, it’s a lot better than it was in the 50′s, 60′s or 70′s. Not sure if it has improved much since the mid-80′s though. Maybe that’s me – I don’t personally remember much prior to the early 80′s, (my teens started in 1984, after all).
For some reason, trying to find a rational, reasonable reason why he would’ve said those things brought to mind the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer