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Is racism also a local problem?

Uploaded: Jul 19, 2019
(Note -- this also appeared in print in the 7-19 issue of The Weekly)

I write this cautiously because I am a white female, and while I certainly have experienced sex discrimination, particularly in the workplace, I have not faced racism.

When I was young, I had an 11-letter Polish surname. It was an embarrassing, somewhat unpronounceable, name for me growing up, especially during teenage years because schoolteachers stammered to say it.
That was also the time that Polish jokes were rampant throughout the country. I was third-generation, and my grandparents had tried hard to Americanize, as did my American parents. But kids in school laughed and giggled at my name at times.

That was then, and that wasn't racism; it was some Americans putting down people from somewhere else — although they, too, had grandparents from elsewhere, but not with 11-letter last names.
But this is now, and while racism has always simmered in this country, and periodically ignited, it erupted again this past week after President Trump exploded about the "Squad" of four in his Sunday tweets, telling them to "go back where they came from." The implication of our president telling Americans to "go back" is clear: He is giving white Americans not-so-tacit permission to label and discriminate against others.
And while this is a countrywide concern, I started thinking about how we are faring locally with this problem.

For one thing, Palo Alto's population has changed. We have significantly more Asians in town — 31 percent (and 61 percent white) of our 67,000-plus population, according to the U.S. Census American Community Survey estimates. We also have a mixture of religions in our community, including Muslims, Jews, Christians and others.

Racial and religious discrimination is occurring, as a recent Weekly blog post described about an area restaurant owner who suffered because of anti-Islam comments. I suspect there's more discrimination than we realize; victims frequently suffer in silence. And because I am white, I am unsure about what actually is occurring to those with a different skin color or heritage. But I would like to sit down with folks and hear about it.

Back in the 1980s, I was president of the local organization Midpeninsula Citizens for Fair Housing, organized to help ensure that all races, in those days particularly blacks, have access to all housing in the Palo Alto area. We received complaints from people of color who felt they had been discriminated against in a rental, and, in response, we sent testers out to see whether overt discrimination was occurring.

If a qualified black couple wanted to rent but was told "the apartment is no longer available" or whatever, we would send a comparable white couple to seek rental, and if they were immediately accepted, we assumed there may have been some discrimination.

We would test and retest a property to make sure we were correct. If we thought we were right, a team of lawyers took it from there and often succeeded in proving discrimination. We felt we had helped make Palo Alto and neighboring communities more comfortable for all people of color to achieve rentals and home-buying here.

I think Palo Alto has done well — not only historically, but also currently — in achieving racial diversity and equality in our community. Neighborhoods are more diverse — for example, I have Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Hispanic and Filipino neighbors on my block. And friends of mine likewise note that their neighborhoods have become more diverse.

I walk downtown and see at lunchtime workers of all races in local restaurants. I am particularly proud because we are such an affluent city, and if we can do it, it can happen elsewhere. I say that because some people assume affluence equates to discrimination.

With this country now whetted by Trump's "permission" to discriminate against others and claim white superiority, I can't even predict what will happen locally or nationally. I know discrimination begets more discrimination. And while this is a liberal area, dealing with racism has a lot of fragile shards that need to constantly be glued together to work.

This is also a two-way street. We all have to try to be more inclusive — reaching out beyond our racial or ethnic clusters, extending trust to those people outside of our own.

We need to grapple with racism now, not later. We should be on the alert, given the national pro-racism mood and the unwillingness of some Americans to recognize that this is even an issue.
One way to handle this complex issue is to talk as a community about potential or existing racism. Maybe it's time for Palo Alto's Human Relations Commission to, once again, get involved — through research and interviews with various races and ethnic groups and getting some hard data to see if discrimination is occurring.

Maybe it's time for the Palo Alto City Council — and other city councils on the Midpeninsula — to just check things out to see if there is an emerging problem.

Or maybe it's time for us to talk with one another, neighbor to neighbor.

It's easier to look into this issue now — before the "OK to be a racist" attitude oozes deeper into our communities.
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Comments

 +   2 people like this
Posted by racist actions, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 12:51 pm

"Is racism also a local problem?"

Yes. If one doesn't see it, one has to wonder their vantage point (hanging around my white friends may not be the best process.)

Start with identifying racists and racist actions, such as:

- marking rental applications with a "C" for POC.
- Settling discrimination suits with the DOJ
- calling for the death penalty of 5 black men
- when their innocence is proved, still denying it
- pushing birtherism
- saying their are 'fine people on both sides' of a rally by white supremacists
- telling POC 'to go back where you came from'
- inciting a crowd towards a "send her back" chant and allowing it to continue
- lying about the above

And more.

If one cannot call the above descriptions racist, and identify their perpetrator as a clear racist - they are blind.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Since the discussion has moved from the Town Square to the Blog, I will repost my comment here. I would also note that the other comment in the Town Square is also worth reading.

Perhaps it is time that we stopped being asked race on forms we have to fill in.

Perhaps it is time that the PAW stopped announcing the name of the new Fire Chief and his race.

Perhaps we started looking at people as having two eyes, two ears, two arms and two legs, and looking just like me.

Identity politics and tribalism is getting tiresome. We should stop playing the gam


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Fr0hickey, a resident of Fairmeadow,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 2:02 pm

Fr0hickey is a registered user.

@Resident

So, you would rather have a color-blind/race-blind society.
I like the idea, but how would the demographers do their jobs?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by racist actions, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 2:04 pm

"Identity politics and tribalism is getting tiresome."

Who's playing identity politics and tribalism these days, in your estimation? The racist who encourages "send her back", or those that seek to fight racism?

Just to make sure we understand: do you feel the actions listed above are racist?


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 2:39 pm

To answer the question, I think it is those that edit and take sound bites, broadcast them in part, and attempt to divide the population, are the biggest problem. Too many people read headlines without reading context behind some of the things that are being said. The media is only interested in getting people angry and few journalists are taking their time to do their job properly. It is easy to jump on the bandwagon and call names, without understanding the context of what was really being discussed.

I actually blame the media for a lot of what is going on. They aren't interested in full understanding, just blame and ratings. It takes time to fully understand a situation, not a 30 second sound bite. My advice is to spend a lot more time than just listening to sound bites, and stop paying attention to Twitter. Twitter is the biggest enemy to understanding.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Abitarian, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 2:44 pm

Any regular reader of Town Square knows that racism (and its disgraceful cousins -- xenophobia -- etc.) is alive and well in our local area.

For a prime example, see Web Link


 +   2 people like this
Posted by racist actions, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 2:48 pm

@resident:
"I think it is those that edit and take sound bites..."
"Twitter is the biggest enemy to understanding."

Thanks for attempting to answer. Your deflections don't seem to address a basic question that may allow readers to understand your position, or lack thereof.

Are these actions, in YOUR mind, racist?

- marking rental applications with a "C" for POC.
- Settling discrimination suits with the DOJ
- calling for the death penalty of 5 black men
- when their innocence is proved, still denying it
- pushing birtherism
- telling POC 'to go back where you came from'
- inciting a crowd towards a "send her back" chant and allowing it to continue
- lying about the above


 +   16 people like this
Posted by Look inward, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 3:01 pm

Diana I'm afraid you've joined a bandwagon (albeit one popular around here) with your big, unexamined leap of assumption: "The implication of our president telling Americans to 'go back' is clear." Clear to everyone already predisposed to always think the worst of him.

I look at this with some detachment. I didn't vote for Trump but I also don't join in the kind of second-guessing that led a Palo Altan in April to suddenly call an older Jewish man a "hater of brown people" and "Nazi scum" because of *her* own interpretation of what his "MAGA" hat connoted -- to her.

People who want to understand what the president himself meant by his recent outburst are pretty much agreed: If you dislike America so badly, go somewhere else. It was crudely phrased (in nativist, but not racist, language). But his actions since have been consistent with that meaning.

On the other hand, people who think it right to project their own jaundiced interpretations onto his words are -- just like Rebecca Mankey seeing the MAGA hat -- quick to do so, second-guessing his intent and casting it as a racial issue on the grounds that the legislators in question are "women of color."

A really searching examination would look more closely at the projections and wishful thinking here, instead of simply accept it. I'm afraid this blog post puts you into some less thoughtful company, some of whom will be piling onto the comments here. (One has already done so 3 times as I write this and will likely continue, with the usual attitude -- "the more or louder I say something, the more true it must be.")


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by racist actions, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 3:14 pm

@Lookinward: please help us understand your views, that include a local coffee shop patron, in the larger context - your interpretation of "...nativist, but not racist, language"

Are these actions, in YOUR mind, racist?

- marking rental applications with a "C" for POC.
- Settling discrimination suits with the DOJ
- calling for the death penalty of 5 black men
- when their innocence is proved, still denying it
- pushing birtherism
- telling POC 'to go back where you came from'
- inciting a crowd towards a "send her back" chant and allowing it to continue
- lying about the above

Like you, I too want "to want to understand what the president himself meant" by his actions over the years.

Why are some posters so darn afraid to answer a simple question and help us understand their views?

Please help us. I respectfully and politely ask your answer.


 +   15 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 3:47 pm

Agree with everyone saying that this is a media-fabricated overreaction and obsessive demonization of Trump.
Here's an unholy thought: everyone is slightly racist. It is a natural human survival instinct to have slight prejudice towards someone who looks different. The key is to take one person at a time instead of generalizing and putting us into neatly divided groups based on skin color/heritage.
But really, I don't think racism is a huge problem in our country right now, despite what you're seeing on CNN. Interracial relationships and general tolerance are better than they've ever been. The phantom resurgence of "racism" is literally a fabrication on your television. Instead of reacting to everything you see on CNN "OMG he said very fine people! HOW DARE HE" step out into the world. Go mingle with people. Tell me how much racism you see.
If anything there might be some anti-white racism and anti-male racism going on. They've gone overboard with this "vengeance" thing, destroying statues and renaming holidays and whatnot.
Also, people need to have thicker skins. Constantly crying about racism and calling attention to fringe white supremacists will inadvertently create new ones. The mainstream media is doing a lot more harm to our society than imaginary KKK members burning crosses in your backyard.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Nathan Bedfords mother, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 4:28 pm

Those that cannot answer the simple question are either hiding the answer from us, or hiding it from themselves.

Deflection is a really sad, week, lame avoidance technique.

Is Trump a racist, are his actions racist?

If you can not clearly answer the question out loud - look inside.

The two posters that cannot answer are a sad case to examine. Their inability to answer is in itself quite an answer.

Sad.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by national front, a resident of Triple El,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Here's a hint, fellas: those actions are racism, by a racist.

And by not answering, y'all ain't hiding nothin'.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 5:27 pm

I will attempt to answer again, but probably you won't pay attention.

I have no idea about the answers to the questions. To answer them would take a great deal of research, much more than I have the time or the inclination to examine. I don't read headlines and make up my mind on media hyperbole. I gave up on the cable media when 24 hours coverage meant 24 hours scandal and rumor mongering at around the time Monica Lewinsky and what she had for breakfast was more important than anything followed by hanging shards and presumption. I can honestly say that those that spend all their time worrying about something that they personally cannot make a difference about has destroyed intelligent discussion on the sane and normal.

To get back to the OP, which is whether racism is a local problem or not. I prefer to talk about what I see everyday with the people I spend time being in a community with. As far as I see, those who turn things into identity and tribalism are not doing any of us a favor. We are Palo Altans here and unless there is another incident as described above when one individual makes assumptions because of what someone is wearing and follows on with hateful public shaming, then my considered opinion is that we do not have problems with racism in Palo Alto and attempting to assume anything about me personally is not worthy of making an issue of.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Andrew Jacks, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 7:03 pm

All those words to deflect from answering whether discrimination is racist.

So hard!!!!!


 +   11 people like this
Posted by YP, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 8:41 pm

the most over used word in our Lexicon - racist . Disagree with a person of color , you are racist. Sadly 50 years after MLK dreamed of a color blind world we have moved backwards with identity politics, inclusiveness and "diversity" which are just other words to describe quota systems in our schools and workplaces, replacing meriotracy.




 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 19, 2019 at 9:45 pm

^^^
This, absolutely.
Replacing meritocracy. You really nailed it there.
I really like Diana's column because she usually runs counter the half-baked fanatical "progressive" that's dominating Palo Alto, the Bay Area and CA. But it's understandable that she has a negative opinion of Trump (who is NOT a racist, at best he is a TROLL), because so many people are afflicted with TDS its like this widespread epidemic, and I almost feel sorry for them.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 20, 2019 at 6:26 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Racism in Palo Alto is much more subtle than just about anywhere else in this country, but it certainly exists. However, racism, deplorable as it is is not even the country's biggest problem right now. We are rapidly transitioning into fascism, which is an existential problem, and it's very clear that a document drafted centuries ago is insufficient to act as a barrier to fascism.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by racist actions, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jul 20, 2019 at 10:21 am

Well, finally.

"Trump (who is NOT a racist, at best he is a TROLL)"

@resident finally declares that the following racist actions are somehow not racist:

- marking rental applications with a "C" for POC.
[portion removed]

We now know everything we need to know about @resident's basis for opinion.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Abitarian, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 20, 2019 at 10:49 am

Diana -- above you wrote:

"We also have a mixture of religions in our community, including Muslims, Jews, Christians and others."

This is not quite correct in terms of grammar. Please change to:

"We also have a mixture of religions in our community, including Islam, Judaism, Christianity and others."

Thanks.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Concerned Neighbor, a resident of Community Center,
on Jul 20, 2019 at 10:58 am

I'm not sure we are not a racist community if our #1 leasor in town is Palantir, the company that's providing ICE the data that is putting children in cages. Our town council is completely involved with this company. Why?

Web Link


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Diana Diamond, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 20, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Let's try to focus a bit more on the extent that racism exists in our town, which is the subject of this column. I'd be interested in your comments, particularly from those who feel they have been discriminated against.

Diana


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Dan, a resident of Professorville,
on Jul 20, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Hi Diana,
Two thoughts - if you specifically seek out people who feel they have experienced "racism" of course you are going to be able to find some examples. That doesn't remotely mean Palo Alto is a racist city - I think almost anyone would argue that Palo Alto is one of the most tolerant communities around when it comes to race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Why don't you equally ask for examples of racial tolerance in Palo Alto - I'm just saying as a journalist you should be aware of asking biased questions that will lead to preconceived outcomes.
There are also other kinds of discrimination that I believe are VASTLY more common in Palo Alto than racism. The first is tolerance for ideas that are not in line with progressive democrat ideals - I would argue there is rampant and overt discrimination against conservative thought and people who identify as republican in Palo Alto. The other kind of discrimination which applies more to business in Palo Alto is agism - if you looked into the tech companies in Palo Alto you would find that age discrimination is rampant...


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Diana Diamond, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 20, 2019 at 3:27 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Dan -- I agree with most of what you said. But I found the comments on this column straying into national ideas, and I was trying to localize the problem. Also, as I suggested, I am white and somewhat unaware of the actual discrimination others may be experiencing. But I also agree with you. And, yes, we should be tolerant of both Republican and Democratic views. Yet, conversely, not silent on our differences because unless we talk to each other, we, as the nation has, will become more polarized.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by racist actions, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jul 20, 2019 at 5:01 pm

Seems the questions Diana asks about our local racism, but don't we need a benchmark in which to measure where a poster is on the scale, before we take the poster's claims and opinions seriously?

Unfortunately, the easiest benchmark for ability to identify racism is now our president.

If a poster doesn't see Trump's racist actions/history as racist, why value their opinion on whether they "see" racism locally? In other words, if they don't see Trump's obvious racism, they will patently be unable to see racism locally.

So, why value a poster's opinion about racism when they clearly can't see it in front of their face? Hence: "Trump (who is NOT a racist)" shows us "We now know everything we need to know about @resident's basis for opinion."

Back to local: yes, there is racism (also a lot of class warfare, but we'll await Diana's future blog on that subject.) If you see neither, increase your circle beyond your homogeneous friends and get educated by them.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 20, 2019 at 7:10 pm

Dianna, it appears to me that PAW is down and the moderators are not doing a good job of dealing with trolls.

It is said that we are a diverse community in respect to ethnicity as well as income. Many people have lived here a long time and remember when racism was definitely an issue. Some remember when African American people were not allowed to buy homes in parts of Palo Alto. This was legal at the time, but I think we can say we have to be pleased that this is no longer the case. As I look around my immediate neighborhood, I see people from all types of ethnic backgrounds, and quite a number of households where the couple is of different ethnicities - that used to be unheard of too. I hear languages being spoken from all over the world, some I recognize and some I don't.

Occasionally there are problems between neighbors. It may be to do with barking dogs, or poor parking, or noise late at night, or even how garbage cans are stored or whether others can put their trash in one that has been left on the street for pick-up. Quite often these very ordinary disagreements can turn unpleasant because someone starts to use the R word. If two neighbors disagree over something it is usually because they can't agree on noise, or parking, or dogs, or garbage cans, but not because of race. However, on occasion these things become racial because one or other party starts using race as the cause, when the issue is really that two neighbors can't sort out a problem without bringing race into it.

When we see a very unusual incident like the case of one resident causing an argument in a coffee shop because of the choice of clothing of another customer, we see the battle lines getting drawn and all types of blame and excuses are made. Fortunately, these types of incidents are rare here and if they do happen many put the cause as mental illness, or age, or some other root cause rather than true racism.

I am of the opinion that we are immune from many of the problems race brings in other parts of even the Bay Area. It seems to be true that when crime occurs, the perpetrators are from other areas of the Bay Area and do not have Palo Alto addresses. However, as soon as an incident of criminal behavior is reported, even before anything is known in detail, many are quick to suggest that the criminals are of a certain race or a certain immigration status.

There was a situation some years ago when the police chief mentioned the clothing of a suspect in such a way that she was classed as racist and in the end she lost her job. That situation cannot be allowed to continue. If a suspect is wearing a certain item of clothing then that is part of the description. It is not helping matters if mentioning race or clothing of a suspect is classed as racial profiling.

We live in a society where we have to be very touchy about mentioning race. We can dislike men, or members of a political party, or nimbys, or similar, and it seems to be fair sport. What we can't mention is race, or religion or even age now, as to do so is labeling an ism or anti something.

When MLK talked about his children not being judged by the color of their skin he went on to mention the content of their character. I think it is time that we remember the part about the content of their character as being the best way to look at others. I also think it is about time we stopped being so judgmental until all the facts are known before we join in with the blame. One very well publicized incident by Jussie Smollett should be a lesson for us all to take to heart.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jul 21, 2019 at 12:54 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Thank goodness for Redwood City and the Friday night Courthouse Square events, as well as the rest of the events that they put on for the public. Over a thousand people are there very Friday night - every shape and color imaginable - all dancing and having a great time. No one is concerned with politics, race, white segregationist. It is a no-politics zone. RWC is the last deep water port on the bay and has a mixed business base so lots of commercial, and hi-tech people. Also agricultural workers. A very mixed group with no main business to set the tone - though FB supports the events. No one group dictating what is suppose to happen. Hope that is "local" enough for everyone - go on up and enjoy yourselves. Free yourselves from people who are wandering around conjuring / discussing "racism" and trying to steer the conversation. Some people just need to stir the pot all of the time - they get paid to do that.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jul 21, 2019 at 1:47 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I see a lot of confusion between the concepts of "governance" and "feelings" - calling people names because you do not agree with them. First issue is if this topic was cleared with the city mayor and manager before it was published? Yes that is important. People who are voted on for an office are required to exercise the rules of the city, county, state, and federal government. That may interfere with "feelings" - you do not agree with a topic outcome. People are paid to do a job - not exercise their "feelings" which are in contradiction with what ever the laws are.

People have continually responded on the RV's on El Camino but there is no focus of responsibility as to who is in charge. Settle out on the policy as opposed to a lot of people exercising their opinions and "feelings".

Trump is not a racist - the D's just throw that out because they refuse to exercise any responsibility for their jobs. We need the immigration laws updated but they refuse to cooperate which then exacerbates the problem. Trump's job is to govern which is what he is doing. Other people are paid to stir the pot all of the time because they think it is a political advantage. I think the law of unintended consequences is now coming in to play - you all have gone off the rails and now it is going to bite you.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Nathan Bedfords mother, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 21, 2019 at 7:50 pm

At least these readers admit they are too blind to see Trump's racist actions as racism.

Obviously, if they can't see racism from that blatant case, they can't see racism locally either.

Also, the list is missing the example that Trump's father was arrested at a ku Klux Klan rally in the twenties in New York City.

Deep water ports and Friday concerts = no racism. Wow. New math?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 21, 2019 at 8:25 pm

^^^ [portion removed] masquerading under different names?
Wouldn't be surprised.
Just a perfect example of how people use the label "racist" to mindlessly and sloppily disparage anyone... although I've tried so hard thus far to not give this troll even a mere scrap. Forgive me.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bronco Bucking Billeh, a resident of Nixon School,
on Jul 21, 2019 at 8:38 pm

@resident: you claim Trump is not a racist.

Other than the GOP, the rest of the world listens to him and knows he is a racist (60% of America, heads of Germany, France, Britain, Canada, etc)

Clearly the 30% Kool-Aid drinkers aren't the ones to judge about the prospect of local racism.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Bronco Bucking Billeh, a resident of Nixon School,
on Jul 21, 2019 at 8:41 pm

(comment removed)


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jul 21, 2019 at 11:33 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Try reading your daily papers Bronco - the countries you mentioned are in a world of hurt with their own problems. (portion removed -- not relevant to the topic)


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Look inward, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 22, 2019 at 4:15 am

Back to the actual blog topic (the local question): another angle on it is "racism" as a defensive gambit. A unique local pizza restaurant I know had an incident. A table, most of whose adults were (as they later explained) south-Asian immigrants, kept a child amused with a smartphone, but it was very loud. After other tables complained, the cook-owner (another immigrant) asked the table to control the noise, as it was disrupting the restaurant. Of course, parents blind to children's obnoxious behavior in public is not a rare thing in the US today, but in this case their reaction, so far from acknowledging or apologizing for the objective problem, was to all jump onto Yelp and indignantly claim "racism." That claim either was consciously cynical, or else (since ethnicity *clearly* had no actual role in the episode nor the proprietor's handling of it -- I heard from multiple witnesses) was sincere, which is even worse, a self-serving misjudgment.

We'll know we're truly beyond racism as a society when it no longer is abused as a cynical defensive claim by culpable individuals.

Finally Diana, I wish you could do more about trolls here, emboldened by their anonymity, posting the same dogmatic comment six times (!) or even more under different names, tailgating every comment with different but honest perspective, and utterly disrespecting your request to focus on topic. It spoils real discussion, here as elsewhere in America now -- which is part of the meta-message this thread shows.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Concerned Neighbor, a resident of Community Center,
on Jul 22, 2019 at 6:44 am

Diana, I hope that my comment isn't considered derailing this discussion. Palo Alto supporting a company like Palantir is the system itself allowing racism to fester in our community. It is far more sinister than an individual racist.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 22, 2019 at 9:06 am

Now that the main site is able to accept comments but has been closed to only allow registered users, it is interesting to see more comments.

Some of the descriptions of "racism" may not be racism at all.

The account of someone feeling that another family who was first to visit may have preferential treatment may have nothing to do with racism but possibly more likely that as the "first come" first served scenario was taking place. If they arrived before the second viewer it makes sense that they were ahead and if the second family had to wait outside while they viewed then there was no way of knowing what was said to them as they viewed the house ahead.

It all boils down to looking for racism where none exists, as far as I can see. If an argument, difference of opinion, earlier visitor, better prospect, etc. happens between two individuals of the same race, it is perceived as fact of life. If the same happens between individuals of different races, it is perceived as racism. I am sorry when this happens because it can be argued that preferential treatment can be given to a less deserving individual in fear of perceived racism. In fact, this is reverse racism, giving preference to a different race for fear of being called racism.

This is now a fact of life and we can see the subtlety of it happening everywhere. The choice between two equally qualified candidates for the same job often comes down to choosing someone of a different race just out of fear of being called racist. What is worse is when those two candidates for the same job may not be quite as equally qualified, but the job goes to the lesser qualified individual because of the fact that they are of a different race, or because they are female. Is this really the way people should get jobs? Should jobs be given to lesser qualified candidates out of fear? Out of quotas? Out of diversity policies?

On another note, it is apparent from my perceptions that generally speaking we all like to have close friends, partners, from a group that is like us. We choose our friends, our business partners, our romantic partners, our spouses, etc. from people who are like us because we enjoy spending time with people who are like ourselves. From enjoying the same foods, the same sports, the same tv shows, the same lifestyles, it is much more likely that we will have our closest group from a group similar to ourselves. Of course that doesn't mean that we are unlikely to keep away from people we have nothing in common with, after all it is fun to try new foods or hobbies which someone not like us will bring into the mix. But generally speaking our closest and dearest will be people like us. There are exceptions to this of course, but just because we choose to have a circle around us that are very like us does not automatically mean that we dislike others who are different. When it comes to things like hiring employees, etc. it has to be done differently or else the R word will come into play. Fear of being called racist is definitely a reality.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Abitarian, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 22, 2019 at 2:02 pm

While it appears statistics for 2018 are not yet available, the numbers from 2017 are appalling. Across the Bay Area, hate crimes* increased 30% in 2017, compared with 2016.

For Mercury News article, see Web Link

For SF Chronicle article, see Web Link

* The FBI defines hate crimes as "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity."


 +   2 people like this
Posted by racist actions, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jul 22, 2019 at 2:33 pm

Nathan Bedfords mother: "Obviously, if they can't see racism from that blatant (national) case, they can't see racism locally either."

Winna, winna, chicken dinner.

I am interested in opinions about local racism, I just don't value an opinion from the type that can't see obvious racism. As I said: "So, why value a poster's opinion about racism when they clearly can't see it in front of their face?"

When they address their inability to see racism, I will certainly pay attention to what he/they say. I won't hold my breath.

One notes that about the only defense they have to not answering direct questions is either deflection about deep water ports or ad hominem attacks. Everyone who points out they deny obvious racism is suddenly a "troll" (4 separate ad hominem attacks, so far.)

...

Abitarian: FBi stats about increased hate crimes

Sorry, Abitarian, dontcha know the FBI is just Deep State or Angry Democrats (that were appointed by, and led by republicans.) All that math that shows racism is just lies. Fake news.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 23, 2019 at 6:29 am

to the Resident, the person who suggests what I perceived as "not racism" you stated: "The account of someone feeling that another family who was first to visit may have preferential treatment may have nothing to do with racism but possibly more likely that as the "first come" first served scenario was taking place. If they arrived before the second viewer it makes sense that they were ahead and if the second family had to wait outside while they viewed then there was no way of knowing what was said to them as they viewed the house ahead."

We made an appointment to view the "open house" at a certain time. The realtor brusquely told us to not enter the home. So we politely waited outside while the other family had already seen the home and she was chit chatting with them. That is fine. When she finally let us in, she did it with an eye roll, a sigh, and behavior that implied I had not made an appointment. (She was already running 10 minutes behind the schedule). When I gave my name... she didn't offer an apology. She instead chose to FOLLOW ME ROOM TO ROOM TO ROOM TO ROOM.

The question is. Why was I followed and the Australian couple not?
I had made an appointment. Gave my name and phone number. I had shown up on time. I had waited politely outside the front door until she told me to enter. I had said hello. I was a professional and a mother of children. I lived in Palo Alto. I told her we wanted to move to a larger nicer home.

When about 5 minutes into looking at the home, I politely but POINTEDLY said to her, "you don't have to worry about me, I won't touch or take anything." that implies that I understand she doesn't trust me (WHY?) and I do not appreciate her shadowing me. IT WAS UNNERVING.

She replied, "I promised the current resident that I nothing would be stolen or taken or moved."

Question: Why was she frosty to me and shadowing me (which she continued to do even after I had stated this) and the Caucasian couple not followed room to room? She was warm and kind and doing small talk with them. She found out hey were from Australia, and how long they had been here etc etc.

When all of us at the end were standing in the living room, I politely and still nicely asked her for an application. She COLDLY told me to email her for the application and walked away from me to the Australian couple and then warmly ASKED them if they would like to apply for renting the home. She asked them if THEY had any questions.

The differential treatment was night and day.

Racism starts when we make excuses for differential treatment.

I grew up when it was acceptable to be openly racist. When school boards didn't have policies against racism. So I have an incredibly thick skin against racism. But it's there and pervasive. When it's not a big deal, I simply walk away.

Why do I write about this particular incident? Because it was EXTREMELY hostile. She made me extremely uncomfortable. SHE was extremely hostile towards me and my family. She was extremely WARM towards the Caucasian family. There is a reason why black folks dress impeccably. Why visible minorities take extra steps to dress nice. To ensure when they run across a racist like this realtor, she has no excuse to treat them horribly based on outward appearance. I was well dressed seeing the home. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered but my skin tone and my hair color. Certainly it wasn't the language we spoke (we spoke English). My children are as American as American pie. But she only saw skin and hair color that day. Truly someone to be pitied, because in the end she only puts herself at a disadvantage, choosing to let fear and stereotypes run her interactions with this world. Her loss.

So do not sit there, and assume what happened that day was not racism. She made sure it was 110% racism. There was no neutrality. She was not interested in renting out the home to the first most qualified family that is interested in a home for rent. Nothing is a done deal until the lease is signed and money is in the hands of the property manager. You do not treat one family sweetly and another family like they are refugees who are trying to steal.... warm versus cold. Attitude, behavior, systematic steps to prevent an application from being submitted.

TRAILING someone for the entire duration of the time they view the home... walking 3 steps behind someone... is not normal behavior. That is targeted behavior ensuring the potential applicant not apply. It's blatant racism. When blatant racism is condoned... you need to question yourself what inside YOU makes you racist. YES.


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Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 23, 2019 at 9:46 am

If she really was as racist as you describe, then its an isolated incident.
Over the decades that I've lived in Palo Alto I have seen multiple families move to the very street I live on, demolish the pre-existing (very nice) houses and build opulent mansions in their place.
Some of the new residents are white.
Most of them are Asian.
Do I have a problem with that?
No. I couldn't care less! I love Asians. Quiet, productive, intelligent people that are more than welcome here.
Individuals will always exhibit racist behavior, against white people as well. Its reality. Deal with it? You can't eradicate racism and you can't erase history. Do what you can as an individual and if you feel like there is someplace you don't belong, go to where you feel better. We can't force ourselves to be accepted in every situation there is, that's just human nature and its OK.


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Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 23, 2019 at 12:22 pm

If you look for racism you will find it everywhere.

I was not there but I cannot comment.

When we first moved to Palo Alto we were looking for a rental. We spent time with the same realtor who we got on well with, and she took us to see several rentals. At a couple of the rentals she was also showing other families around. It was a long time ago now, but since we had a professional relationship with her it may have seen to anyone else that she was giving us a different experience. In fact, she would have been receiving commission if she had signed us rather than any of the other families as well as repeat clients from our employer, so I expect that she would have preferred us to any of the others. In actual fact, the rental we found was a private arrangement from an advertisement in the paper.

I was not there when you were shown the property you described so I can't comment. However, I share my story to let you see that there may have been other things going on that were nothing about race.

Things are often not as clear cut as perceived. I have been treated badly by certain stores, by fellow airline passengers, by airline staff, etc. I I suppose if I had been of another race I could have called it racist actions. Because I am white, it was bad treatment and that's life sometimes. I could have looked for a deeper resentment and complained, but it was possibly just someone having a bad day and they took it out on me that day. It was my turn to receive some bad treatment that was not my fault. It happens, I got over it.

People who feel they are being treated badly because of perceived racism make it much harder for society. Sometimes the reasons are nothing to do with race. Sometimes it is fear of upsetting someone of another race that means there is the argument that they get better treatment or favored treatment. Is that the best way to live?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by racist actions, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jul 23, 2019 at 1:05 pm

- as racist as you describe, then its an isolated incident
- Individuals will always exhibit racist behavior
- if you feel like there is someplace you don't belong, go (back, or elsewhere)
- If you look for racism you will find it everywhere
- You can't eradicate racism and you can't erase history. ...that's just human nature and its OK.

Diana: good luck with all those conflicting statements, some from the same poster, some difficult to ascribe due to the same name (albeit different neighborhoods,) and some that sound like the same poster who listed a different neighborhood.

But the clear 'winner' is the graf: You can't eradicate racism and you can't erase history. ... (but just go away) ...that's just human nature and its OK.

Holy Toledo.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Arnold Ziffel, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jul 25, 2019 at 10:30 pm

As a local racist I have to hand it to those who spend endless hours focusing on race. Even I am not that consumed by the topic. It makes my point that race is an important consideration in how we lead our lives. I'm mainly concerned about safety instead of keeping track of the latest preferred pronouns or terms that are imagined to be hurtful. To me hurtful is actually being physically hurt, not having my psychic membranes vibrated. It does me no good to not notice where the danger may be coming from. Yeah, it would be nice if a woman could take a walk on a darkened street at night without worrying about her safety, but that just isn't how it is. As long as people treat me with respect I return the favor--regardless of their outward appearance. I just want everyone to get along. Until then I keep my eyes wide open.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jul 27, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

When we bought our house on Ross Rd in 1963 our larger extended neighborhood (Adobe Meadows) was already pretty well diversified, well integrated, and a close knit community. Most of the homes in our immediate neighborhood were tract homes built by Brown and Kaufmann in the late 50's. Young families with kids were anxious to meet their new neighbors. In our general area we had three African-American families, one East-Indian family (they lived across the street from us), and many Asian-American families of Japanese and Chinese ancestry. Most of them lived around the corner from us on Nathan Way.

We were diverse in many other ways, including religion. There wasn't the stark problem of today...income/wealth inequality...either. Teachers, engineers, gardeners, lawyers, doctors, small business owners, and a couple firemen were all able to buy homes in this neighborhood. We made it a point to meet our neighbors, and we had blocks parties which brought us together. A very active PTA at Ortega Elementary School brought us together also.

There was a group...I'm not sure of their official name...but I'll go with “Welcome Wagon" just because it has a nice ring to it...that provided a welcome mat party for newcomers. Nonworking wives, and they were the majority back then, visited with each other almost daily. And they had a babysitting co-op that worked out very well.

I think, for the most part, tolerance and diversity still exist, but the neighborliness aspect is gone. Most of the original owners have moved away, or died. And sad to say, our neighborhood has changed so much over the years, and forever. There are many cases where home owners don't know their new next door neighbors and those new next door neighbors don't care to meet them. That is sad. I make it a point to at least greet and welcome new neighbors. It might not go any further than that but at least I make an effort.



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