Do I do that?

Katharyn Brady By Katharyn Brady, 8th Feb 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Daily Life

Being 1/2 of an interracial (Black/White) couple for the past 19 years, I've learned how to navigate some of the not so nice experiences. However, there was one experience with an Urgent Care facility that caused me to take pause and ask myself, "Do I ever do that?"

Vowing to remain single for eternity.

After suffering through a failed marriage and many failed relationships, at the age of 38, I had decided I was no good at relationships. I would never have another boyfriend and because of that I was never getting married again. Living alone for the rest of my life felt like it would be a slice of heaven compared to the pain I had experienced in the previous years being in relationship.

An unforseen opportunity.

Although I had vowed to remain single and out of a relationship, it didn't mean I couldn't go out and have fun. I had a number of guy friends and would meet them every few weeks at "Shabooms", a local hang out in Cupertino, California.

When the slow songs played, my friends and I would hang back and chat, catch up on gossip. When the fast songs played, we would get out and dance our hearts out.

I didn't realize it, but on May 11, 1996, my life was going to change in a very big way. While my friends and I were hanging around waiting for the fast songs to play again, I happened to turn around. Standing behind me was this very handsome, African American man. A fast song began to play and he asked me if I wanted to dance.

For the next couple of hours we danced and talked. At 11 p.m., this gorgeous man said he and his friends were leaving for another club and asked me for my telephone number. Normally, I didn't give it out, but felt compelled to give it to him. I was very clear with him that I didn't date, but always looking for friends. He seemed unfazed by my boundaries. He said he would call me on Monday. Sure enough, on Monday at 5:00 p.m., my phone rang. It was him.

Breaking my vow of being single.

Our friendship began to blossom, I realized fairly quickly that I really liked him. Unlike the other men who I had given the exact same boundaries to, it felt as though it was going to be difficult for me to maintain them with Michael.

I began to see if I could find something wrong, so I could reinforce my vow of remaining single. I asked him if his family had a problem with him dating women outside of his race. With out any hesitation, he said, "My mother believes people are people and they are all valuable. Besides, all of my brothers married white women."

Michael was so nice and kind. If we were walking into a store and there were people behind us, even when they were about 15 or 20 steps behind us, he would make sure he held the door for them. This is who he really is as he still does this today.

When I say Michael is nice and kind, I mean he's nice and kind to everyone. Whether you are homeless or the president of a large corporation, he treats everyone the same, as though you are his favorite person. Truthfully, he genuinely cares about everyone.

Needless to say, it didn't take long for me to fall in love with this man and to break my vow of being forever single.

Experiencing racial prejudism for the first time.

I was well aware that in the year 1996, our society still had people who were racist or prejudiced and it infuriated some people to see the races mix with each other. However, I have never cared about what other people thought of me. If I wasn't doing anything illegal, why was it any of their business who I chose to be with?

However, I wasn't prepared for the change in how I would be treated at business establishments, especially retail, if I was with him or his family.

When I was with Michael or his family, I went from being a VIP customer to a potential shoplifter in some retail shops. We were followed and closely watched while non African American folks were left to wander unsupervised. Just as a side note. A person who is Caucasian once confessed that when she went into the store she knew that the African Americans were being watched so that left her free to shoplift. And for those of you who still think it's all in my head, I worked at a bookstore as one of my first jobs at a community college. I was instructed to watch the "Blacks" because they are prone to stealing. I didn't like their attitude and quit that job.

As we became more serious and were going to live together, searching for apartments became very interesting.

I would make the phone call to arrange to see the apartment, my voice sounds California Caucasian. We would arrive together only to be told the apartment was no longer available. By the way, it wasn't a hot rental market. So we started to devise a plan. I would go into the rental office by myself and ask if the apartment was still available. If it was, then I would tell them that I would be right back as I want my boyfriend to see it with me. Our problem was solved for apartment hunting after that.

On one occasion while in another state, we walked up to an empty restaurant to be seated. We were told that you had to have reservations and they were booked. A white couple went up shortly after us. They didn't have reservations and they were promptly seated. It's one of the experiences where I just walked away. I don't want to eat in a restaurant where people don't want "my kind" in their establishment. There are plenty of other options.

We had a number of unfortunate experiences as a couple. In fact, way too many to even list them. But, each experience taught me how to navigate our lives and minimize negativity.

Forgetting my street smarts.

Fast forward to earlier this year. I came down with a sore throat and within a few days a fever followed. The sore throat became wicked. It was now 5 days and it wasn't subsiding, but getting worse. I wanted to rule out strep throat.

We got into the car and Michael took me to urgent care. This particular facility had great reviews on "Yelp". Of 48 reviews, approximately 46 were really good.

Having been so sick for the past few days, I totally forgot all of my street smarts. I went in sweat pants, sweat shirt and tennis shoes. It was cold, so I pulled the hood up over my head and I wore a surgical mask so as not to spread my germs to other patients who would be coming into their office. When with Michael and dressed in sweat, t-shirt and tennis shoes, my experience has been that many will prejudge me in a negative way. Negative assumptions are made to the point, people will just ignore me. As for the opposite, I've been asked on several occasions if I am Michael's attorney when dressed in professional attire.

Michael and I walked in together and he sat down, while I got in line waiting my turn. The woman at the desk was speaking very nice and cheery to the man in front of me. When it was my turn, her energy shifted. Her words were polite, but the tone was curt and the facial expression was mean. The words were clipped. My first thought was here we go. I've been down this road before. I was to fill out the paper work and provide my identification, insurance card and the medical co-payment.

I completed the paper work and handed it back it to her. She entered my information into the computer and then she did a personality switcheroo. Her whole demeanor changed from squinty, cross looking eyes and a pinched face to a big smile and said, Ms. Brady, here is your ID. From that point on she was extremely pleasant. I tucked this personality change into the back of my mind and would process it later.

About 30 minutes later, my husband and I were escorted back by a very nice nurse, who asked a few more questions and took my temperature, weight, height and blood pressure. She's the kind of nurse you always want caring for you.

The doctor came into the room. By looking at his name tag, I immediately knew who he was because of the reviews he received on "Yelp". They were glowing. But, he did the same thing the woman out front did. He was not friendly. He didn't introduce himself, and immediately began to try and shame me as to why I didn't get a flu shot. I responded that I don't think he looked at the paperwork that I recently completed in preparation for this appointment. If he had, he would have seen that I am allergic to eggs which is the primary reason I don't get the flu shot. He acted as though I didn't say anything and moved on to questioning me regarding my symptoms.

Eventually, he sent in the nurse to take a strep throat culture. Several minutes later, he came back into the room, again just like the woman up front, his personality was very friendly, he was kind and caring. He delivered the good news that I didn't have strep throat, it was most likely the tail end of the flu. He said that if I needed anything else, to be sure I came back to see him.

Ha! That was never happening.

Self Evaluation

I took the next couple of hours to process my experience with that Urgent Care Facility. Both the woman upfront and the doctor treated me as people in the past have treated me when I have been with my husband.

However, what was different is that the way they treated me changed 180 and within just a few moments.

Why did they make that shift?

I will never know for sure. But, if I had to speculate, I would say it was because they had a piece of information that most don't. In the questionnaire, I list the place of business and my work title. It is a Fortune 200 company where I hold a senior position. It was clear I had great medical insurance. They would most likely get paid. Possibly, they have had a number of people who looked like Michael and I and they got stiffed and so now they brace every time they see someone who looks like us?

Although it's true that in 2015 we are still having these conversations and you would think that we would have evolved beyond them, that is not my point. It would be very easy for me to judge the doctor and receptionist.

However, I have decided to take on a challenge for myself. Do I do this? Do I prejudge people with a mean expressions on my face? If I prejudge someone and speak to them, do I have a rude tone to my voice? If I do, what stereotypes do I hold within my being where I am projecting lack of acceptance just by looking at someone?

I don't know the answer to that yet, but this experience has caused me to take pause and ensure that if I am doing this that I stop. People know. It's not nice. I don't ever want to be that person that makes a judgment based on a stereotype and causes that person pain.


Prejudge, Prejudice Behavior, Race, Self Evaluation, Unfair

Meet the author

author avatar Katharyn Brady
I have survived cancer multiple times. It took 8 surgeries, 33 sessions of radiation and chemo therapy. My focus is on being healthy in mind, body and spirit and helping others do the same.

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author avatar WOGIAM
18th Jul 2015 (#)

Prejudice is rampant all over the world as people are first judged by appearances, we can only hope that with time the levels reduce and we all respect each other despite colour, race etc

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
18th Jul 2015 (#)

Wogiam - you are so right!!

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author avatar WOGIAM
18th Jul 2015 (#)

Prejudice is rampant all over the world as people are first judged by appearances, we can only hope that with time the levels reduce and we all respect each other despite colour, race etc

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author avatar vandana7
18th Jul 2015 (#)

For me this post would have got a star. :) I will be honest. I do exhibit some prejudices. I recently realized I feel them. I also feel insecure if I don't hold such prejudices. I am inclined to believe that behind all that racial fear lies not the color of the skin but fear of the height and weight of African Americans. In my case, I think my need to assert myself emerges from the fear that if I remain too amenable, this other person will continue to over ride my wishes and that should not happen because I am the boss, ain't I? EGO. lol

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
18th Jul 2015 (#)

Vandana7 - It takes courage to admit we are prejudiced. I believe the fear of African Americans comes from what is chosen to be communicated in the media. Typically, the black man is portrayed as the boogey man over and over again. If we see something represented as true over and over again, pretty soon we can believe it. But, if we remain conscious and aware of how we are thinking and feeling, we can remove the effect of the portrayals by the media. Good for you for being aware!

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
18th Jul 2015 (#)

Thank you Nancy. That picture was from 1996 shortly after we started dating.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
18th Jul 2015 (#)

Thanks for sharing your article. Beautiful picture!

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
18th Jul 2015 (#)

I feel sorry for you. I'd like to recall a recent statement of Obama that racism exists in the subconscious of Americans even today. It'll take long to erase it completely.

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
18th Jul 2015 (#)

Hi GV Rama Rao, no need to feel sorry for me. I am a very joyful and happy person. If I hadn't had the experiences, I don't know if I would have realized how prejudice still impacts our world. I am very fortunate in that I've never cared whether someone thinks poorly of me because of the way I look or the good company that I keep due to their narrow mindedness. My main point was to look at myself and see if I am doing this, too. It may be a human trait. Through being conscious and aware, we can choose to change our behavior. I actually feel sorry for the people who live with limiting beliefs. Their lives can't be very full. But, mine truly is. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I absolutely agree with you that it will take a long time to erase racism/prejudice from the subconscious of Americans.

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