This is a diary for me to complain about something that's bothered me for a long time. I really hate it when white people think I'm "one of them" and they begin to whisper about whatever racist thing they think I need to know.
Let me just say, I'm a middle-aged white guy with a vaguely Midwestern-SoCal accent. I've had long and short hair, but that doesn't seem to have made much of a difference in this phenomenon I'm describing. It really seems to me that it's because I'm a white guy.
It doesn't seem to matter where I am either: it could be in Little Rock, Peoria, Bakersfield, or even Long Beach. I see something that interests me; I ask a local about it, and it turns out there's something special about it that causes the local to start whispering to me.
I think I can only explain this with an example or two.
1. One time when my wife and I were in New Orleans, we were cruising through the Jax Brewery mall. We struck up a conversation with an elderly white gentleman about the place, and the conversation moved on to something about the place (I forget exactly what), but as the man explained whatever it was I asked about, his voice dropped to a whisper, to the effect of "well it was because when they did this, they hired all black people to do (job x), and then (things went to hell)." I really can't remember because I was already in my defensive ("how the hell do I get away from here without causing any offense by showing my disgust") mode. Then, as usual, I just "hmm'd" away his comments, and bade him goodbye.
2. A few years later we were in Farmington, New Mexico. We had been cruising the state on vacation, and it was a beautiful warm day. We decided to stop into the bowling ally for a cool drink, assuming (correctly) that it would be cool inside the bar. I ordered a draft beer. The woman behind the bar told me they didn't serve draft beer. For some reason, I had to ask why. Down came her voice: "Well, it's because the Indians like to drink draft beer, so if we don't serve it, they don't come in." We drank our drinks and left quickly.
I always feel really uncomfortable in these situations. Invariably, I'm the outsider who has no idea how the rest of those around think, and I"m frankly not interested in getting into a fight where I'm certain to get my ass kicked (to be fair, that would be just about any fight anyway). Yet, for some reason, it seems to me I get "invited" into this local fraternity of whatever small-mindedness is in fashion, as if whatever I said up to that time convinced them that I was "one of them" and could be trusted with this indispensable information.
The other part that gets to me is that they seem to feel the need to whisper when frankly, I doubt that anyone around would care if they said it out loud.
By the way, I recognize that men do something similar when an attractive woman walks by.
I don't know if I have a particular point to make here, beyond my own discomfort. I'll bet there are people here who have experienced the same thing, and maybe some of the comments of a community I find quite thoughtful, I will better understand how I feel.
Also, Happy New Year everyone. I wrote a song about New Years Eve, a (poor) recording of which you can find on YouTube. Just look for "New Years Eve Again" by greggparadiddle.