i make no excuses about who i am! love me, hate me, just read me!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Do you racial profile when you talk to someone on the phone?

My daughter made a comment the other day and I looked at her and said "Do you realize that is a racist comment?" The context of her comment was how someone "sounded" when they spoke. This engaged us in a conversation about how we as humans judge someone not only by their appearance but also if it is a first impression, how they sound on the phone. I have a great phone voice by the way, been answering the phone for a long time having worked in a flower shop I learned how to "sound pleasant".  People that would call for me did not know it was me they were talking to. The thing I am talking about is can you tell if someone is African American on the phone, or Mexican, or Caucasian? My daughter said yes she could and I was appalled! What a biggoted attitude. From my kid, who by the way is Mexican, African American and Native American.....blech, that made me reflect on my biggoted attitudes. Clearly she learned them from me, being the primary influence in her life.
Lets go back to my parents, both Mexican Americans, Mom not a racist bone in her body..Dad on the other hand I would describe as bold and brash and bigoted. His opinions of others were formed by his abrasive fathers attitudes about niggers and wops, lops, and spics and beaners. My Dad could best be described as a Mexican Archie Bunker...ironic I know. The utterance of the word nigger to him was commonplace, he grew up in Little Okie, a rural section of the town, (which is in Central California by the way) we live in, which was predominately Hispanic and Black, everyone knew everyone. They were cordial and polite to one another in passing, but you never invited anyone of another race to your home. This was circa 1950's.
So hearing that often in my house growing up it became no big deal. We never said it as kids, but as teens we said it and as an adult I have said it. We all have, usually it was in reference to my girls family had no kind words in describing him. My love has said it freely too, he being half African American. So why is it ok for two people of any race to call each other the racial slur that they will not allow others to refer to them as? Odd.....if you do not want to proliferate a racial epithet then don't encourage its use in any way! So when I hear my kids or their friends refer to one another as "ma nucka"----I cringe.....but I have said it too...does this make me racist? I think it makes me guilty of being ignorant on occasion.

So back to the phone voice.....while it is possible for you to be able to decide what color someone is by their voice, you may not. Some dialects and accents are very regional. I explained to my daughter how if we would have stayed living in Minnesota she would have sounded like one of its inhabitants, saying words like Bo-uht and go-uht instead of boat and goat, or phrases like, "pop and brat" or "can I come with". Or if we would have stayed in Missouri she would've had a southern drawl as thick as honey. The inflections we speak with are a result of what we have grown up around or the people we associate with. Talking that, talking Mexican is that. So to classify people as sounding like a certain race is really identifying who they identify with. Isn't it cool to talk in text now? I guess I have been guilty of it too, racially profiling someone based on the way they speak. Actually I am guilty of hating how people try to sound educated when they speak and get all the terms wrong, that is a bigger deal to me. In writing this I find that I have come to this conclusion, you sound like you...

This is the second in a series of blogposts about tolerance...


  1. I must say I am guilty of multi language or race my previous job I came across many different races....when I speak to someone with a black or hispanic decent I tend to change the way I speak to accomadate them. I can sound like I grew up in the hood or like I went to a is true that you are just you and should not put hate out on someone just by the way they sound

  2. Thanks for your comment, I really do not get people who don't admit to certain behaviors or attitudes, most, and I clarify, most people have had a bigoted attitude at one time or another. It is human nature. Clearly there is a difference between a racist and a bigot, the one thing in common about both of them is ignorance. Being able to communicate with someone on their level, not to say someone who is uneducated, provides a level of trust or comfort for some. Being who you are is key....Thanks again for you input!

  3. great blog love it newest follower I love that you tell it like it is and hold nothing back you go girl

  4. aw thanks for the comment! yup thats pretty much me tell it like it is and thanks for following me!