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March 31, 2011 / JV

don’t do that #247

Recently I was in a little boutiquey store with a friend (interesting how a good number of the problematic statements in my life occur while shopping) and we were browsing the glasses section. As we each try on a pair of sunglasses, we make the accompanying pointed-finger, winking-eye, teeth-clicking gesture and muse indifferently on the reason for sunglasses existing at all. One of the salespeople in the store is looking on only mildly bored and weighs in with a comment about how she doesn’t wear sunglasses in the winter but in the summer she wears them.

My friend and I move on to the good ol’ fashioned non-sunglasses and I try on a pair with brown frames. As I’m looking in the mirror, the salesperson who just shared her philosophy on sunglasses compliments me on how they look, and my friend seems to like them too. At this point, another salesperson sitting at a computer across the room makes herself known.

“Have you tried the white ones?” she asks.

“Huh? Oh, you mean the ones with the white frames?” I reply, looking up at her.

“Yeah,” she says, glancing up for a moment from the computer screen. “You should try them… I mean, if I had dark skin, those are the ones I would wear.”

Ummmmmmmmm………… if .. you.. had .. dark skin. Hmm… that’s a really big if. And on what principle are you basing this opinion you just formed about the compatibility of “dark skin” and white-framed glasses? How, exactly, have you come to the conclusion that this is an equation that never fails? Dark skin + white frames = ultimate attraction combo? I guess when you have an equation as dependable as that things like what my face actually looks like don’t matter. So basically you are saying that because I am darker than you (and from here you look like you *might* be “of color” ) I should try on a particular pair of glasses not because they’d look good on me (can you even see my face from there?) but because that’s what you would do????? … if you.. were some version of me …. ??

Hmmm…

And about this whole if-you-had-dark-skin thing. “Dark” skin is something you don’t have, never have had, and never will have, so you might want to hold off on making plans and/or imagining a lifestyle around the day you are dark. I don’t need you to relate to me, or be me, or observe something about my skin color in order to give me your personal arbitrary-ass opinion about how well a color goes with the range of complexions that could be described as “dark”. And please, when you get the chance, revisit rule #45 on selling a thing: don’t suggest a thing to a person based on some weird idea you have about how you’d look in that thing if you were some broad generalization of that person’s skin tone. That’s just.. like, weird. Just.. ugh, just don’t do that.

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9 Comments

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  1. Mjauv / Mar 31 2011 8:33 pm

    Oh man. Talk about over-analyzing something extremly trivial. Seriously, cut back on the melodrama if you want to be taken seriously when dealing with real issues.

    • VC / Apr 1 2011 7:32 pm

      firstly, although playfully dramatic, “don’t do that” isn’t melodrama-it’s real life. secondly, as a matter of principle, I can have as much melodrama as I want on my own blog. next, you obviously don’t get it. And lastly, in all seriousness, cut back on the stank ass attitude if you expect to get any more comments approved on this blog.

  2. Mjauv / Apr 1 2011 9:28 pm

    What exactly is it that I “don’t get”?
    Besides the doubtful honor of being the target of one of your blog-posts about ethnic sensitivity I mean.

    A sales clerk gives you a tip about a pair of sunglasses.
    “And on what principle are you basing this opinion you just formed about the compatibility of “dark skin” and white-framed glasses?”
    How about the principle that most people seek visually appealing things? You know, like a good combination of colors or so?
    “you might want to hold off on making plans and/or imagining a lifestyle around the day you are dark”
    Wow. Here I thought this woman was giving you tips about what kind of sunglasses that would suit your looks while in reality she was actually seeking conformity to her would-be lifestyle as a dark-skinned person.

    I don’t expect you to approve this comment and I am quite frankly rather indifferent. But I sure would like to hear you explain in detail what it is that I “don’t get” about racism since you obviously consider yourself an authority on the matter.

    • VC / Apr 1 2011 10:27 pm

      “ethnic sensitivity”? Really? If you knew anything about this blog, you’d know it’s not about sensitivity.

      Your response to this post demonstrates to me that you do not understand this kind of interaction. You probably have never had a person reference your skin color unnecessarily, be it in reference to clothes, food, an animal, or something else having absolutely nothing to do with you. You probably do not have the experience of being “othered,” unnecessarily, or having people regularly allude to or outright address a single fact about your appearance which always happens to be your race.

      There seem to be a lot of things you don’t get (although I don’t recall saying “racism” was one of them). You don’t seem to understand that this person was not actually helping me shop; that she was seated on the other side of the room, and that she had no idea what my face looked like except that it was brown. There was no reason for me to take her “tip” as sincere. None, whatsoever. If I wanted to try on the glasses (which were not sunglasses, by the way) with the white frames, I would have done that. Don’t you think? Don’t you think it would have been 100% more useful, and thoughtful even, for her to comment on the glasses I was wearing?

      The thing is, this is one of those small things that people like you think you can decide doesn’t matter. Annoying, “trivial” things like random people essentializing/pointing out my skin color for no reason whatsoever except for their own humor or post-race performance. This is one of those small things that adds up.

      You, my friend, are terribly, terribly wrong for coming onto to my blog and judging the significance and seriousness of that which is my everyday and my reality. How dare you.

      • Mjauv / Apr 1 2011 10:58 pm

        Oh, I see. I have probably never… (a thousand different things) and you base that upon… what?

        This person had no idea what your face looked like? Do you know that for certain or do you just assume it because of her comment?

        When it comes to the glasses in question – maybe you hadn’t spotted them. Maybe you wouldn’t consider them because of some general habit when looking for glasses. I don’t know what kind of special store you went into but the last time I went to shop for glasses I couldn’t find a single good pair without the clerks help.

        “people like you”?
        What kind of people is that exactly? What obscure group of people have you decided to categorize me into?
        And the other thing – pointing out your skin color for no reason except “their own humor” or “post-race performance”?
        I don’t even know what you mean by that last one and “humor”? You mean that the woman made her comment to entertain herself? And you base that claim upon… what?

        Yes… how dare I. I begin to wonder that myself after noting that you even adjusted your guidlines for which people this blog isn’t for.
        Because there is no stinking chance in hell that you actually WOULD over-analyze or being melodramatic…

        • VC / Apr 1 2011 11:53 pm

          Oh, I see. I have probably never… (a thousand different things) and you base that upon… what?

          I based those guesses upon how you have responded to this blog post.

          This person had no idea what your face looked like? Do you know that for certain or do you just assume it because of her comment?

          I know this for certain. Please note: I was there. Re-read sentences about her being on the other side of the room in front of a computer, please.

          When it comes to the glasses in question – maybe you hadn’t spotted them. Maybe you wouldn’t consider them because of some general habit when looking for glasses. I don’t know what kind of special store you went into but the last time I went to shop for glasses I couldn’t find a single good pair without the clerks help.

          Alas, you don’t know. FYI, and maybe this matters to you, this was not a glasses store. There were about 3 pairs of glasses total to choose from: all variations on the same style, just with different colors. I didn’t ask for her input and she didn’t ask me if I wanted it and to top it off it was useless.

          “people like you”?
          What kind of people is that exactly? What obscure group of people have you decided to categorize me into?

          People who troll blogs making disrespectful, self-important comments about what other people people should and should not be writing about in order that they “be taken seriously”. I didn’t “categorize” you there; you did that all on your own.

          And the other thing – pointing out your skin color for no reason except “their own humor” or “post-race performance”?
          I don’t even know what you mean by that last one and “humor”? You mean that the woman made her comment to entertain herself? And you base that claim upon… what?

          You’re failing to understand that these are examples of the “small things” people do, not passive accusations of what that salesperson in particular was doing. Re: post-race performance – people have a way of randomly mentioning race in conversations as a way of showing that they are past it. I could go further in depth here but I don’t feel like it.

          Yes… how dare I. I begin to wonder that myself after noting that you even adjusted your guidlines for which people this blog isn’t for.
          Because there is no stinking chance in hell that you actually WOULD over-analyze or being melodramatic…

          Yes! I’m so glad you noticed this! You inspired me to update my guidelines for people who don’t get it! It’s a good thing, because your issues with race are so wrapped up in bad manners and belittlement that it would have been harder to pinpoint these particular ‘i-dont-get-it’ behaviors without your help.

  3. Mjauv / Apr 2 2011 5:42 pm

    Did you ever consider that me actually HAVING similar experiences does not equate me agreeing with you?

    The question is retorical since the answer is rather obvious. You have so far argued that I lack the experience needed to understand the issues with being an ethnic minority. At the same time, you have called me “bad mannered” and accused me of having a “stank ass attitude” – I would’ve asked you what you think other people think about your attitude when reading through your blog but I don’t want to give you the opportunity to scream about how you don’t care about the opinion of others and this is your blog and if they don’t like it then they don’t get it and bla bla bla.

    You have also called me a “troll”, even going so far as to send me e-mail where you end your writing with “If this is even your real e-mail.”.
    Calling someone a “troll” is one of the oldest e-tricks in the e-book when lacking arguments and while I do admire the will-power needed to become immune to criticism, your reaction to my comments tells a rather unflattering tale about you and the way you reason.
    “how dare you”… first I thought it was some kind of lame attempt at irony but it seems you were dead serious. Your problem is quite simple: you take yourself way too seriously.

    • VC / Apr 2 2011 7:19 pm

      You come on here and tell me I need to “seriously, cut back on the melodrama” if I “want to be taken seriously when talking about real issues”…. and I take myself too seriously? You’re joking.

      —-

      Your attitude is extremely stank, you are trolling, and you seem to lack not only humility but purpose. Yes, I said all of those things to you and there are more where those came from. I don’t need an “argument” because as I told you in my ‘your comment is not getting approved’ e-mail, your comment did not engage with the original post in any meaningful and constructive way. I still feel that way; the only reason I approved it was so that other people who feel similarly to you would have some kind of outlet. And frankly, I’m kind of regretting that because you had no purpose in the beginning and here we are at the end, and still, you have absolutely no purpose for being here except to state your opinion about my free-ass blog that I write because I feel like it (not because I want to be “taken seriously” by you).

      I questioned if that was your email because a) your comment was rude (rude people generally don’t use real email addresses), b) you are a first-time commenter, and c) your country code was Swedish.

      The premise is frank – if you don’t like the blog, you can leave and never come back. That’s the beautiful thing about the internet.

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