Me and my dad are driving from Florida to Kansas. We’ve been on the the road for sometime and we are tired of being cramped in the car. We’re on the border between Tennessee and Kentucky. Out of no where we see blue and red lights behind us in the rear view mirror. Its kinda late and so we both look at each other with that oh fuck look.
So the cop walks up to us and asks the usual. This is where shit hits the fan. In the most country voice you could imagine the cop asks my dad “So you’re not from around here are ya… boy?” and I completely froze. I wasn’t even sure i had heard that i thought i did. I wanted to tell the cop to just run away. I was afraid for everyone in the situation. My dad just looks at him. Without any particular rush he unbuckles his seat belt and gets out of the car. The whole time the cop doesn’t say a thing. I’m thinking of calling somebody but the cops already there. When hes out of the car my dad finally asks “What?”. In the coolest voice you could imagine. The cop doesn’t answer just stands there. Then finally he says “Here you go” and hands back my dad’s license and insurance cards. Another agonizingly long silence follows. Then finally the cop says “Ill be right back.” He goes back to his squad car and my dad gets back into the car. We just sit there in silence. I can feel the heat radiating off my dad. I’ve never felt so ashamed in my life.
The cop comes back and hands my dad a ticket. “That will be all” and walks away. My dad looks at the ticket and its a warning for speeding. The rest of the trip was completely awful thanks to that cop and one word. Boy.
2. After 9/11
I’m Indian. Life got awkward after 9/11.
I’m Cherokee, sometimes called Indian. Life got awkward after Columbus.
My wife and brother-in-law are native american. We were driving out of an atm drive thru when we were hit by a woman backing out of a parking space, not looking in the rear view and talking on her cell phone. I was sitting in the back seat with my 3-month-old son and was watching this woman back up before she hit us.
I told my wife to hit the gas so the impact was toward the back end of the car.
We stop and I get out the car fuming. My wife and brother-in-law get out too. The woman gets out of the truck, looks at them and still on her cell phone says, “I gotta go, some wetbacks just fucking hit me.” Me, in all my city-raised, working-class neighborhood punk-rockness says to her, “What the fuck did you just say, hang up your goddamn cell phone, this is my family and they are Native Americans, and you just fucking hit us. I have a 3-month-old son in the back seat and you better show some fucking respect to us, no matter what the fuck you think we are.”
Needless to say, this lady’s jaw dropped. She goes on to say that it wasn’t her truck, she was from Florida and was just up here to attend the governor’s fund raiser, she knows this crooked politician etc. She gives us her name, number, insurance card, etc and says she doesn’t want any trouble, it was her fault, get an estimate and she will pay out of pocket.
A month later, we got a check in the mail for three times the estimate we sent her.
On a funnier note, my wife and I were at a Korean restaurant, and all the staff there would speak to her in Korean thinking she was Korean herself. We got the good kimchee.
I’m a white English guy. I was backpacking through the Middle East when the Iraq war started. Most people were pretty cool and were very friendly, but one night I was walking through Hama in Syria when all of a sudden I was grabbed from behind and had a knife to my throat.
“fucking American, I’m gonna cut your fucking throat” snarled my assailant.
With sheer terror I replied that I wasn’t American.
“American, English, I’ll kill you all” he replied.
As the knife started to press deeper, a sudden flash of inspiration came over me.
“I’m Scottish” I managed to squeak out in best fake accent.
All of a sudden the knife was gone and was now embraced in the tightest hug ever.
Turns out that the guy had recently seen Braveheart and didn’t realise that England and Scotland were no longer at war and now considered me a brother in arms.
He ended up inviting me for dinner at his home with his wife and kids (hard to refuse a guy with a big goddamned knife), all the the time trying to keep up my bad Scottish accent and trying to come up with excuses for why I couldn’t go with him in to Iraq to help in the war.
Apart from being crazy fucked up about wanting to kill some Americans or English, he was actually a nice decent guy and his wife sure could cook.
Hispanic female here. A few years back I was driving back from San Antonio. I was pulled over by some troopers, one was an older white male, the other was a younger Hispanic male. Me, being Hispanic as well sat there while the Hispanic trooper approached my window. He started speaking Spanish to me while I just look at him dumbfounded because I have no earthly clue as to what he is saying.
The older Caucasian trooper was standing just off of my rear bumper near the driver side tail-light. I stick my head out of the window and look directly at the Caucasian trooper as say “What did he say?” that must have included a look of profound WTF-uckery because the Caucasian trooper just started laughing.
I guess they Hispanic trooper assumed I spoke Spanish and didn’t realize that some brown people only know English.
The let me off with a warning. I like to think it’s because they had a good laugh at the whole situation.
When I was 12, some girls on the bus home from school stole another girls keys and blamed it on me. Being the mature 7th grader I was, I decided to go to the house of the girl who blamed it on me to confront her. Her mother answered the door and I tried explaining what happened.
She told me to wait, so I did and she came back to the door with a shotgun and said, “Don’t you blame my daughter for your nigger tricks.” I took the hint and walked home, and have never mentioned it to my parents out of fear.
8. At work
I am a black man. I was at my job, working at a college, having a conversation with someone at one of the college’s designated smoking hut. This blond kid sits next to me, flips a penny at me, and says, “Dance monkey dance” and walks away. After breathing the fire out my lungs, I dealt with it through the college and he was suspended for a year. It was the greatest test of my patience. If I wasn’t such a peaceful man, I’d kick some ass.
I don’t think I am being over sensitive/the punishment is too severe as this all happened not too far away from Rutgers in the same year a young man took his own life after having his sexual identity become public fodder. If I was not the man I am, and I responded likewise, he would be looking at jail time. Also, he is going to bring that nonsense to his future workplace and lose a job.
I’m Asian… I was in an airport once, traveling with a group of fellow Asians. We were approached by a white male, who said that we were the “biggest bunch of yellows he’s ever seen” and then asked us to “speak some Asian for him.”
Was like 10th grade and I had a DBZ shirt on that had some Japanese characters. I’m Korean.
Kid behind me: “What’s your shirt say in Chinkish?”
Me: “It says you’re a bitch.”
Wasn’t that awkward but I wanted to slap him.
11. At a house party
I’m not black but I am Jewish, and I have an incredibly awkward racism story.
I was at a party joking it up with some friends in one of my friends rooms. I dropped a Jew joke and a girl, who I had met a couple of times but didn’t know very well, said “oh my god!” I assumed that she was Jewish, and that she was offended. So, I said, “It’s okay, I’m Jewish” and at the exact same time she said “I hate Jewish people.”
The room went dead silent and my jaw fucking dropped. There was a good 5 seconds of silence as I gave this girl the death stare trying to think of what to say next. She beat me to it and said something along the lines of, “Well it’s not all Jews… I just work for these old Jewish people and dah de dah de dah…”
I don’t really remember what happened next. She was dating one of my friends at the time (they broke up shortly after) and that was pretty much the only thing stopping me from telling her to GTFO of my house.
I am korean but have lived in the USA my whole life… don’t have any trace of an accent. I was once driving thru texas in the winter and my lips were getting chapped… I stopped at a podunk gas station, went inside to see two old guys inside that just stopped their conversation and stared at me… I said “Where is the chap-stick?” to which the employee immediately replied “WE AIN’T GOT NO CHOPSTICKS ROUND HERE.”
I grew up in a very ethnic part of town, but LOVED basketball (I’m white). You could imagine that when you are the only white guy at the park, things can get interesting. Most of the time I always kept my mouth shut. However one time this black dude wouldn’t stop running his mouth. I dunked on him (Im 6’3) and he says “I KNOW Paul Blart didn’t just do that.” So about ten minutes later I block this guys shot and almost as a reflex said “Now thats how you play defense Mr. Jefferson”.
It did NOT end well.
14. At a bar
I’m black, and I was out at a bar with 2 white friends. These are close friends, so amongst each other we sometimes share racial jokes. For example, Friend: “Man, it’s dark here…” Me:”That’s racist.”
We saw a table open up. 2 white girls were still sitting there, and they were cool with letting us join. Talking just with my own friends, we shared a joke like the example above. Here’s where things get awkward with one girl.
Girl 1 asks me if we work in I.T., I say no and ask why, she says we dress like we work in IT. I was kinda taken aback, but I let it slide and tried to make small talk with her. Girl 2 seemed much nicer, but claimed she didn’t really know #1, that #1 was just her husband’s friend. A moment later, I got up to get a round of drinks, and as I sat down, Girl 1 looks me hard in the eye and says “SO, where are your black friends?” I asked her to clarify, if she was trying to make a joke, or if my friends put her up to it, etc. She said “No, I want to know where are your black friends. Don’t you have any?”
Girl 1 basically wanted me to prove/quantify my “blackness,” and went so far as to say “You don’t act black enough, I don’t think you’re really black. You’re probably Puerto Rican or something.” I said to her, “Listen, bitch. I dealt with this shit in high school, people saying I’m not black enough, and there’s no fucking way I’ll take this from you.”
At this point, #2’s husband joins the table and realizes what’s going on. He explained he can totally relate to me dealing with this nonsense, growing up Conservative(?) Jewish in a more orthodox Jewish neighborhood. Neighbors slashed his dad’s tires after he drove on a sabbath day.
So he and Girl 2 had a nice talk with me and my friends, all while Girl 1 sat in silence, staring off somewhere. While I was up getting another round of drinks, Girl 1 said to my friends, “Your friend’s offensive.” They told her off again. As we were leaving and saying goodbyes, I gave Girl 1 an intentional awkwardly long handshake, saying “it was REALLY nice meeting you, you have a WONDERFUL night!”
TL;DR – Drunk bitch questioned my “blackness,” reminded me of the “blacker than thou” shit I dealt with in high school. I happily told her off, and made her the pariah of the table.
15. At school
I’m Hispanic and when I was in school I was always in advanced level classes, GT, etc, and we lived in a lot of places because my dad was in the military. Then my freshman year in high school, we moved to a town with a large poor Hispanic population. Many of them were poor performers in school as is the case in any area with a large poor population.
When I registered for classes, the counselor automatically placed me in all remedial classes. I got through the first day and told my parents we were studying things I learned two or three years earlier. My father came to the school with me the next day and I listened from the reception area as he yelled at the school principal for a very long time.
By the end of the day, they had given me placement tests and put me in appropriate classes.
Flash forward several weeks and I was walking home with a new friend from my AP English class and he says “You’re not like the other Mexicans around here. You’re actually smart.” I was stunned into silence because this was really my first experience with overt racism. Then I started laughing and he got visibly nervous. I told him I was laughing because that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard a white kid say to me. He was silent the rest of the way and apologized when we got to his house.
I’m white, but I’d say my most awkward experience with racism was when I walked into a room right when this black guy said “I hate white people” to his friends, and everyone looked at me.
17. While flirting
I’m Hispanic and part black. I had a guy I liked tell me he liked my cute little nigger nose and hair. He was seriously being playful and flirty about it. What do you even say to that?
Also, the best is when people act like they can just say racist stuff around me since I’m not a “real” minority, and obviously they’re not talking about me and they just mean those other people. Again, how do you even react? It’s so awkward and ridiculous.
I told a group of African businessmen that “I don’t really care about the blacks.”
My work was hosting a group African businessmen, mostly from Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania if I remember correctly. They were there because their governments were buying our products en masse for their big cities and were getting major discounts and so were visiting our headquarters.
They were waiting in the lobby putting on their name tags as my colleague and I were walking back in after lunch.
During lunch we were talking about whether I should buy a LCD or a Plasma TV. I wanted LCD and my buddy kept insisting that I get a plasma. There were many points made on both sides like colors on each kind, contrast ratios, image burns, dead pixels and the color black.
My buddy kept saying that you couldn’t have true black colors on LCD so plasma is better. I told him that I had never once in my life while watching a movie felt that the night wasn’t dark enough or had any other complaints about the black color on screens.
As we walked in my exact words to him were “I don’t really care about the blacks”
All the African guys stopped what they were doing and looked at me in stunned silence. I realized what they must think and tried to avert disaster by saying “I’m sorry we were talking about contrast ratios and black colors on LCD vs plasma screens and not about you people.”
That also didn’t go over very well. Luckily my buddy went to them and apologized and cleared everything up. I still get shit for that at work.
Senior year of high school. I had just gotten a full scholarship to Howard U and of course, my relatives and I were overjoyed. I was at my mom’s job one day afterward (a high school, she’s a teacher) when she started to talk to another teacher. This other lady also had a child about to go to college, and she told my mom about his small soccer scholarship. My mom then told her about my scholarship. That lady was pissed. She started to go on and on about affirmative action (she knew nothing about my grades, but I guess she just assumed that they must be worse than her son’s) and black people getting too many benefits in higher education.
The kicker? Howard is an HBCU, meaning over 90% of the student population is black. If anything, my blackness was a hindrance.
So I just sat there and listened to this lady rant about the unfair advantage I’d gotten because I obviously could never deserve a scholarship.
I’m white, but this just happened a couple months ago and it was one of the most awkward things that has ever happened to me.
I was leaving my apartment to walk down to meet a girl at a bar shortly after dark, and my roommate drove past me to pull a quick u-turn and park his car on the street. I’m an “I like to fuck with people” kind of guy, so I figured I’d fool around a little bit, so when my roomie finished his turn and was coming back towards me head-on, I jumped out in front of his car and started jumping around like a crazy gorilla. Just chimpin out to the max – scratching under my arms, whooping at the top of my lungs.
“OOO OOO AH AH AH OOO OOO.”
The car stops right in front of me, and I’m just going at it 100%, and at one point thought about slamming my fists down on the hood of his car (but stopped myself when I remembered how sensitive he is about his buick). He flashed his brights a couple of times and I finally relented and got out of the way, laughing like a madman as he drove past another dozen yards to the parking spot. I turned around as my roommate got out of his car and that’s when I noticed that the buick was slightly darker than my roommate’s. And also, it wasn’t my roommate. It was a giant black dude.
I swallowed my fucking tongue for a second as he got out, and at first I honestly thought of just quickly getting the fuck out of there, but then I realized he was parked out in front of my apartment and I’d be better off just trying to fix shit right then so I yelled out nervously, “Uh, hey dude, I thought you were my roommate! He’s got the same ca…yeah, anyway sorry about that!” Without any hesitation, I heard this deep voice yell back, “I DIDN’T SEE SHIT.”
He ended up being my new neighbor. We don’t talk much in the hall.
I was at a club in St. Louis with my black friend, we were having a great time, etc, etc, when he noticed someone took his coat. No big deal, happens at the club, it was a black coat, could have been a mistake, whatever.
He went up to the group of people who had his coat (all white, mostly trashy, the chicks were hideous), and they wouldn’t give it back. He was nice to ’em at first even. He kept at ’em, they eventually got in a car and started to drive off with his shit. The fuck?
He was still pissed at them and trying to get it back when they started driving off. Suddenly, a fat chick leans her head out of the window and yells, “FUCK YOU NIGGER” at him as they leave.
My friend turned back towards me and started walking back to the sidewalk. As the somewhat-sheltered white guy, I just said, “Dude, what the FUCK?”
He just looks at me and says, “Not the first time.”
Not awkward, I guess, but it was very eye-opening to me. I simply did not believe that still happened. I do now. Fuck that chick.
I’m of Chinese descent, living in the US, married to a Caucasian man. In the first year or so of our dating, he took us to a birthday dinner for his grandmother.
When we got there, it turned out the birthday dinner was Chinese food. My husband’s grandmother made comments the entire time about how it was lovely I could join them and eat Chinese food, since I was surely comfortable with that, and would not stop asking me questions about Chinese food and whether it was like what I had at home. (This Chinese food was terrible. Truly repulsive. Plus I eat all sorts of food, having lived in the west basically my whole life.)
This would all have been fine until she pulled me aside, sat me down, and made me look at a picture of one of her granddaughters. This granddaughter had a portrait taken dressed up as some sort of geisha, wearing a kimono and holding a parasol. She was also holding a magazine titled “Oriental” magazine. The grandmother made me look at it for several minutes, pointing out details (“Look at the magazine she’s holding, isn’t that neat?”) while I pretended to be interested or flattered or something (what reaction was I supposed to have?). She also continued to call me “Oriental” multiple times, which she still does today.
Anyway, none of it was intentionally racist I guess, and they all meant well (I suppose) but it was really awkward.
23. At work
I’m a white guy and my wife is black. A coworker I hadn’t seen in years was making smalltalk by asking about the neighborhood I recently bought a house in.
Him: “Are there any niggers over there?”
Me: “Well… if you mean black people, there’s at least one…in my house…my wife.”
Him: (in a higher-pitched sort of “just learned an interesting new fact” tone of voice) “Oh, I didn’t know that.”
So I was touring Caltech last year. The tour group was all white/asian except for one black family. The tour guide was explaining her favorite pranks that Caltech students have done. One of them involved changing a big sign to read “Slavery”. She started laughing about it, but immediately after realizing the implications of what she said, she turned and fixated, terrified, on the black family. “Not… not… that we… encourage… slavery or anything.” They nodded awkwardly. “Like… you’d have to be a crazy person… to think that… that it’s okay.” Awkward silence. “I mean… those people that actually think that should… should be put in a mental institution or something.”
There was a much longer awkward silence. Then we were herded off to go look at turtles.
25. At an airport
I’m a Lebanese 21-year-old studying in Canada. I go back home once a year, with a connect at CDG Airport in Paris.
Last time I was having my bags run through the X-Ray, the attendant, assuming I don’t know French, says “I can’t believe it – another camel!” to his co-workers, laughing. I look straight at him and answer, in perfect French, “I’m not a camel. I’m Lebanese.”
His face flushes red immediately. I grab my bags the moment they come out of the machine and walk away calmly.
First off – I’m white, I was a passenger in the car during this “driving while black” incident: I was on a high school trip about six years ago to Camden, NJ – basically volunteering and doing service work at a few sites around the Camden/Philly area and on one particular day while being driven by our chaperone to a service site in philly we got pulled over by Port Authority on the bridge.
An A-typical slightly overweight, white, pissed off, shaved head looking cop comes up to the car and immediately starts drilling our chaperone, who is a large, black, ex-nfl player about why he is driving a van full of children, where he got the van, where us kids came from etc…
Everyone could tell by the officers tone immediately that he was as racist as he looked. After asking us kids in the car RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR CHAPERONE if we recognized him and were fully aware of who we were with and where we going, the cop THEN, AFTER ALL THAT QUESTIONING decided to run the information from our chaperone’s license and the registration on the van (which had been given to us for use by the community center we were volunteering at).
After a long, awkward wait the cop returns to the car having confirmed nothing was awry, with a list of moving violations that had apparently ALL occurred in the quarter-mile we had been on the bridge before getting pulled over (this was the FIRST indication any of us got as to why we were even pulled over). THEN, he informs our chaperone that not only was he being ticketed for these offenses but that the officer was doubling all the fines because we were “in a work zone.”
The icing on the cake finally came around when the cop was giving us his parting words – told our chaperone he needs to pay attention to the road etc blah blah blah and turned to leave. As he was walking away our chaperone said to him “Thank you officer, have a nice day.”
The cop stopped dead. Turned around red-faced and charged back to our driver and yelled “WHAT DID YOU SAY TO ME!?” – Our chaperone calmly repeated, exactly as he had before, “Thank you officer, have a nice day” to which the cop retorted “that’s what I thought you said, boy.”
Our 300 pound, nearly 300 pound ex-linebacker chaperone could have farted and that cop would have been blown off that bridge… but of course he ended the altercation by brushing the cop’s comment off and calmly turning to us to point out “That’s driving while black for ya!” right in front of the cop who was so bright red he couldn’t show his face to any of us any longer and walked off without another word.
A buncha bullshit, at least the cop got punked.
And I realize that while the whole situation didn’t really apply to me, but it was definitely one of the most informative experiences of my trip…
I’m Mexican, I live in a smaller town in Ohio.
One night I’m at the local Walmart, hanging out in the parking lot (it’s the summertime, there isn’t much to do). This cop cruiser comes up to us. Now I had nice khaki shorts on and a polo that I had just taken off due to spilling some liquids on it, and the cop sees this as stereotypical Mexican.
He starts questions everyone in the group, the what-we-are-doing bullshit, he then starts grilling me. Where do you live, are you in school, etc. Then the cop drops the this bomb. “Do you have a driver license, hell, do you even have a Social security number, I know most of you spics aren’t here legally.”
Mind you up till this point, I’ve been very respectful, always using sir and not giving any attitude. I for a split second, think about flipping out, but stopped, looked at him and his name and rank. I asked him, if he thinks he should rephrase that, and he responds with, “You heard me wetback.”
I start laughing, pull out my phone and ask him if he wants that to repeat that with his superiors. And he responds with, like they’d even believe you. Now, I have two cell phone numbers of cops, One being my position coach for the football team, and his buddy. I regularly hung out with his kids that were my age and they had taken a strong interests in me, since I was some what of a trouble maker and wanted to kept me out of trouble.
I pull out of my phone, and the cops looking at me asking what I’m doing, and I tell him I’m calling his bluff. I ask, “SGT Smith (not real name) are you on duty tonight?” He says yes. “Good I need you to come to Walmart, one of your cops wants to tell say something with a superior around.”
He asks if it’s officer so-and-so and if he had made some racial slurs to me.
“Yes, sir, I’d like you to come here.”
Well he says he’ll shows up, pissed the fuck off because one, the cop is making his department look bad, and I had never done this before so he knew something that would upset me that much must be pretty bad.
The officer-in-question, looks at me and says, “HA, you don’t know SGT smiths number, I should just take you in now, for wasting my time.”
As soon as he finishes his sentence, I see the lights and sounds of ab SUV heading towards us, and he turns pale. Now, I start laughing. SGT Smith shows up and pulls the other cop to the side and start grilling his ass, I do not know the extent of the convo, but SGT smith sent the other cop away, asks me what he said and I told him. He asks me the standard BS: Do you wanna fill out a complaint, do you wanna call your parents. I tell him no, I’d like to lay him out more than anything, but I’m smarter than that, he tells me not to worry, he’ll take care of this problem. They leave. Not even 10 minutes later I get a call from SGT Smith’s buddy, who’s off duty cussing up a storm telling me he can’t believe that asshole acted like that, and he’d have a few words with also when he sees him next time.
Well a few months later I was speeding home after football practice, and I see those lights in the mirror, and pull over knowing full well I’m getting a ticket. I get my stuff out as the cop walks up and as soon as I see him, I know I’m really fucked. It’s officer dick head. He gets next to the window looks at me, and says, “Sorry, have a nice day,” and walks back to his car and drives away. I was in full shock and sat there for a moment, enjoying my victory.