Two months...This has been the longest break I've taken on this site in six years...
During that time, I've been extremely busy and have rough-drafted another novel, and edited Finer Spirits, my romantic thriller about to come out in a few weeks. It's in the final stages of cover design and so on.
Anyway, I was disturbed at the reaction to Oprah by a store-owner in Switzerland when the media owner gave an example of racism. Isn't it odd how people explain away a racist incident, as if it either didn't happen or is the victim's fault?
The owner of the shop actually turned around and blamed Oprah, who simply asked twice to examine a handbag in a shop and was refused the right.
The owner of the shop forgot that the "customer is always right" and covered up for the mistake and said,
"I believe she [the saleswoman] rather said something like `we have some less expensive' – `we also have some less expensive bags' and not `it's too expensive for you.' "
I know the handbag business is odd at the high end after reading a book about the business called "Bringing Home the Birkin" if it's true, and how the manufacturers hold back bags in the factory to add to the allure and exclusivity of the purchase (it's not simply managerial incompetence).
Trouble is, Oprah's situation illustrates precisely an enduring and defining example of racism in the context of the everyday fleeting contact. It's not an abstract issue that can be rephrased and explained away. The harm's been done, and this is honestly how racism plays out in real life.
As a Canadian living in America, I've sadly had to experience more than my fair share of prejudice, and it happens one to one (mostly subtly, along the lines of "When are you going to move back to Canada?" as if they're hoping I'll leave after 35 years! And I'm expected to thank them for asking!). And I've recently become conscious of being the brunt of misogynistic phrases from men...along the lines of not "worrying my pretty little head" ...I do worry, though, believe me, because I have my own brain and want improvements made wherever...
Recently, I made a comment in our local Patch, and was called "ignorant" three times, "whining", a "sorry ass" and "Go hawk your blog somewhere else." And oh here's a good one: "Gun Prohibitionist" because I'd prefer Americans dispose of guns. So be it. It's true.
Here's another example: the "traditional" cat-calling in public areas that men assume women want. (They don't...I don't know of a single woman who wants it. Period. Silence is superior.)
Please remember how useful it is to be good to others. Comment online as you would if you were speaking to someone, liked them, and cared about their reaction.
Reading comments like these are hurtful to soft people (and I'm one). I just know, however, that their unkindness and inaccuracy isn't true, and really shows up them in a horrid display of their comparatively weak and undeveloped command of the language.
Their horribly unfair comments are hugely revealing to me because if they can accuse me anonymously in comments and get away with it -- and I haven't the foggiest idea who these usernames are in real life -- then imagine how they mess around emotionally with the women in their real lives around them. If they can abuse me and get away with it, then they certainly, without any doubt, abuse the women who actually have to put up with them: their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, cousins, and so on. I feel sorry for these women, and worry about how they maintain their emotional strength.
UPDATE: the local Patch moderator deleted the inflammatory comments above to my great relief. On this same topic, Danielle Steel has recently blogged, see "Are You Still a Brain Surgeon?" and Huffington Post published an incredibly detailed article on this topic and about trolls by Jade Walker, a must see.