Hi, My Name is Her Every Cent Counts, and I’m a Racist

There are two types of racists in the world — the ones who blatantly hate on another race for being different, and the ones who just would prefer to be around people who are more like them. Most people are slightly racist. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is. As the musical Avenue Q puts it – “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist Sometimes.”

Looking for an apartment, my racism comes out in full force. Neighborhoods around the Bay Area are very neatly divided along color lines. There are areas for Mexican-Americans, areas for Chinese-Americans, Indian-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Korean-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, Cambodian-Americans, African-Americans and so on.

Mexican neighborhoods offer little in the way of landscaping and tend to be where gang activity occurs, according to the internets (racist?) The Indians seem to live in nicer communities in the suburbs with apartments that smell distinctly of permanent curry. African Americans, in terms of neighborhood, tend to be hidden in East Palo Alto, an area known for gang activity as well.

The African-American, Mexican-American, and Indian-American areas are much more affordable than the more white areas. Does it make me a terrible racist that I’d prefer to live in a nicer area that doesn’t have a consistent smell of curry? I cringed at my racist self today while touring a complex in Sunnyvale. The complex showcased many stock images of white people on its brochures but inside it was pretty much 95% Indian families. I have nothing against any other race, I just would prefer to live with other people who are, well, more like me.

Who are people “like me?” I’d like to live in an area with single 30-somethings. Not a bunch of families (no matter what race they are.) I want to live in an area that is walkable to a downtown and supermarket. I’d like to live somewhere that pays attention to the landscaping and offers residential streets with a nice place to live.

Of course, this doesn’t come cheap. And it makes me quite racist. I would feel more comfortable living near other white and Jewish-Americans even though I don’t consider myself religious. Even though I’m friends with Asians (and have honestly always been good friends with Asians, Indians and Hispanics) I find myself uncomfortable at the thought of living in a neighborhood filled with Asian families. God, I’m so racist.

But I must not be the only one. If people weren’t racist, then there probably wouldn’t be neighborhoods and apartment complexes that clearly cater towards one race. It’s unfortunate that the more affordable areas for “white people” tend to be pockets of white trash (vs more affordable housing where Indians live, which seem a bit nicer because standards of living are higher.) I haven’t been able to find a “Jewish” area in Silicon Valley that isn’t filled with higher rents. So much for living near other Jews.

Does it make me a horrible person to want to live in a community of people who are more like me? And why is it so much more expensive to do this? Part of me wants to stop being so god damn racist and move into a community filled with Indian families, just to learn to, well, stop being racist.

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3 thoughts on “Hi, My Name is Her Every Cent Counts, and I’m a Racist”

  1. I don’t think it’s wrong. It’s normal to want to be a part of a community that is like you, however you decide to define it. I personally don’t like living in communities with a lot of noise, dogs, and strong smells either.

    We’re all a little bit biased in some way. If you were in a room full of guys and you saw another woman, you’d tend to walk towards them to bond. It’s an instinctive thing to find someone you can be part of a group with.

    Or if you were in a room of people who were really young and someone near your age was there, you’d want to bond with them.

    Basically humans seek out groups to be a part of.

    I can’t remember where I read that….

  2. This is a very brave post and I totally agree with you. But in my mind, being among like minded individuals is not racist. As you can see by my “name” I am conservative and prefer to hang out with fellow conservatives. And while liberals would have you believe they are very tolerant of all kinds of people, they too hang out with other liberals. I can remember a quote from some New York liberal who once said that they didn’t believe anyone voted for Bush because no one they knew did. Not trying to get political here, but the point is that people hold certain preferences for any number of reasons which are not racist in the least.

  3. It’s not racism so much as cultural preferences. That’s perhaps why you want to be around people of a similar status (not just skin colour). If you find a neighborhood full of folk that are identical to you except that they are always cooking curry, that’s the deal breaker, right?

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