Nigger Tax

As a Pasty White Boy from Nebraska, I was shocked to find out a few years ago that I am, indeed, a Nigger.

I was schooled in this several years ago by a young Black man in the Bronx, New York. He taught me why being perceived and labeled a “Nigger” doesn’t always have to do with the color of your skin but it has everything to do with power and an attempt to enforce obedience.


Adding the “Tax” rubs a little salt in the wound.

The people of New Orleans had a Federal “Nigger Tax” levied against them and they will continue to pay that tax for the rest of their lives. Many paid with their deaths.

The title of this post may be offensive to some people and those same people may find the following story offensive as well. If you are easily offended by words and ideas you should stop reading now.

You can’t get the tax unless you’re put in the Nigger box first, I discovered, and that boxing can be done subtly with an unmistakable gaze that immediately tries to set you in your place by looking right at you, but beyond you, at the same time.

The first instance happened when I was standing in a long line for pizza at a strip mall in the Bronx. The line was moving quickly and I noticed a young Black man — perhaps 14 years old, if that — standing off to the side of the line by the cash register. He was dressed in shiny black shoes, pressed putty-colored pants and a dark blue Izod shirt with the collar flipped up. His head was shaved bare.

As the line died person-by-person and I moved closer to the front, I saw the young man still standing there, serenely, holding two perfectly folded dollars in an outstretched fist. The young man kept staring at the man taking orders, hoping, it seemed, to catch his eye.

When it was my turn to order, a pale, older man, with a twitchy eye, barked from behind the counter and asked what I wanted. Instead of answering him, I turned to the young Black man and asked him if he had ordered yet.

“No,” he replied. “I’m waiting my turn.”

I knew something strange was up because 15 people had come and gone before him. “Whudda you want?” The man behind the counter was turning maroon. He gave the young Black man a twitchy gaze I had never seen before: He was dismissing him by looking right at him, but beyond him, at the same
time.

A direct gaze returned to me: “Look, if you can’t decide, pal, get outta the way!” the pizza man cried.

I took a step back and motioned for the young Black man to take my place in line.

“He was here before me,” I said.

I knifed the pizza man with my eyes and he shot me right back with a non-twitching glare that could kill.  The young man sidled over into my spot and ordered a single slice of cheese pizza.

Without breaking his glare on me, the pizza man took a slice off the metal tray, slapped it on a paper plate, shoved it at the young Black man and said, “Two bucks.”

The young man dropped the dollars on the counter, grabbed his pizza and
left the line.

The pizza guy then looked beyond me and said in a series of punctuated
twitches, “Next in line!”

I had been dismissed. That was fine. I lost my appetite anyway.

I found the young man outside eating his pizza as he walked. I caught up to him asked what just happened. He looked at me like I was crazy.

“It’s a Nigger Tax,” he said nonchalantly and without emotion.

I couldn’t believe I was hearing that word spoken aloud, let alone combining it with another word to make it an even more complex insult.

“What does that mean?”

“A Nigger Tax,” he said between a chew and a swallow, “Is that he’ll get to me when he gets to me. The White people come first. Then it’s my turn.”

“But that’s wrong!” I blustered. “Why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t you stand up for yourself and walk out?”

“Look, mister,” he said as he deftly caught a drop of pizza sauce before it dripped from his chin onto his polo shirt, “If I did what you say every time I got a Nigger Tax, I’d be crying all day and never get anything to eat at night.”

He paused to dab the corner of his mouth with a napkin, “You gotta choose your fights. That guy ain’t worth one. His pizza’s good, he makes me wait, but he doesn’t break me. He doesn’t even bend me a little.”

We walked in silence as we crossed a busy street and into the grassy commons of a towering apartment complex in a park.

He shoved his greasy paper plate and napkin into a garbage can and said, “Thanks for letting me in line today, but I’ll pay for it next time. He’ll make me wait twice as long as today as payback.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I thought I was helping you out.”

“It’s okay.” He turned away and jumped across a broken stone path and smiled back at me as he continued on his way home, “The Nigger Tax is everywhere. Some see it, some don’t. You’ll get yours. We all do.”

He stopped walking for a moment and looked right at me, “Some more than others.”

He waved over his shoulder and disappeared inside his building.

I turned around and walked home in a bit of a daze because I had never before been so thoroughly schooled in something I was not born into knowing or understanding.

A year or so later I would again learn the meaning of a Nigger Tax even if it only lasted for a few minutes.

In the Bronx there were two supermarket chains that were tough competitors: C-Town and Edwards (Edwards later became “Stop & Shop”). I would frequent C-Town when we first moved to the Bronx because it was convenient, but I always had a feeling of unease being in the store.

I could never find anyone to help and if they did help it was only to point in a vague, dismissive, direction. The C-Town workers never appeared to take an interest in helping. I always brushed off my C-Town experiences as being cold-shouldered New York as the city can sometimes feel in the outer boroughs.

One day I mentioned to one of the people in my apartment building that every time I go into C-Town I get this vibe of hate. My Puerto Rican neighbor sneered at me as if I were five years old and said in a voice that should only be used with toddlers and small animals, “Aw, honey, C-Town is not for you. You’re White. You need to go to Edwards.”

“Huh?”

“C-Town is for Latinos. Spanish speakers work and shop there. Edwards is where the Blacks go to work and shop. Edwards will feel better because you share the language.”

I just looked at her. I couldn’t think of anything to say as I immediately wound back and then re-played all my C-Town experiences in my mind.

“You’ll be stuck on religious holidays, though. Edwards can’t find anyone willing to work on Christmas and Easter so they just close down.

C-Town is always open. Just run in and run out and you’ll be fine.”

I left before she could pat me on my head and send me on my way to kindergarten.

I didn’t know if my neighbor was kidding around with me or not. I didn’t know if she was stereotyping experiences and observations or if she was just sharing the facts of her life as she knew them.

I started to frequent Edwards instead of C-Town even though it was a longer walk and my neighbor was right. Edwards felt better.

I received smiles.

I could get help fast if I needed it. I was amazed how culturally inaccurate my internal sensors were when my C-Town chilling wasn’t correctly registering reality inside me.

Then, one Christmas Day, it happened.

Edwards was closed.

I needed a medication refilled.

The C-Town pharmacy was the only place open.

The pharmacist on duty quickly filled my prescription. The store was quiet.

When I approached the pharmacy cashier to pay, the chunky, middle-aged, Latina behind the counter sitting on a bar stool, would not acknowledge me.

She was reading a magazine and loudly flipped the pages as she obviously ignored me by using the magazine to separate us.

When I put my medication on the counter and tried to catch her eye, she glared at me over the top edge of the magazine and looked right at me, but beyond me, at the same time.

I had seen that look before at the pizza place!

My stomach turned as I felt myself being dropped in the Nigger box.

I was burning with recognition and flashbacks to the schooling the young Black man had given me a year ago. Waves of fury and despise cursed throughout my body as a nauseating injustice touched every cell within me.

A Latino man came up and stood next to me. The woman behind the counter looked up from her magazine, walked over to the cash register, greeted him in Spanish and rang up his order.

I had just been “Nigger Taxed.”

I stood there for a second wondering if I should say something when a young Latina woman stepped in line replacing the man who had just been processed by the cashier. A couple of other Latinos fed the line next to me and one-by-one they were all processed in Spanish and I just stood there and picked up my white sack of medication from the counter.

I thought to myself, “So this is what the Nigger Tax feels like.” I didn’t like it.

My throat was dry and throbbing with blood. I bit the inside of my lip and tasted the sour, red, result.

All the people were served.

Once again it was just me against the woman behind the counter.

She sauntered back to her bar stool and began flipping through her magazine again.

I stood there and stared at her.

Without breaking my gaze, I pulled out my $20 dollar co-pay from my pocket and I neatly creased the bill in half and held it out to her from a clenched fist.

Neither of us moved.

My hand trembled.

Being Nigger Taxed was awful in a strange way. I found a fraction of comfort in knowing what was happening. Every moment of it was awful, but I was able to separate my body from my mind. I looked down at the situation from a disconnected above and said to myself, “Okay. I get it.”

It didn’t make things better but at least I knew this wasn’t about me in particular. It was about general things like skin color or culture or a lack of Spanish-speaking skills.

I learned that Christmas Day in the Bronx you don’t have to be Black to be labeled, boxed and taxed as a Nigger and I now know in my bones you just have to be different from those framing you and a way of trying to keep you in your place is with an unspoken label and a disparaging gaze.

I dropped my $20 co-pay on the counter and left with my medication.

On the cold walk home I selfishly soothed myself with the biting knowledge I didn’t have to pay that tax every day of my life and I would never in my life pay it again and I haven’t.

But I also had to seethingly admit even though the cashier didn’t break me, she did bend me a little.

48 comments

  • Wow.
    When I was a child growing up in a blue collar community in California, I felt like a second class citizen because of my ethnicity. My parents had both lived in internment camps during World War II even though they were American citizens, because of their Japanese ethnicity. I learned to personalize the “Nigger Tax.”
    As I grew and saw more of the world, I saw that I was not alone. Others of color also were “Nigger Taxed.”
    And then I noticed that this was not a phenomenon simply of appearance of color. The Irish were persecuted by the British, the Nicaraguans by the Costa Ricans, the Jews, the Palestinians, the Greeks and the Turks, and on and on.
    We all get taxed. The idea for me was to not be the one who lays down the tax.

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  • Beautifully said, Jeff!
    You are a good friend and it grieves me to know that you had to grow up having to pay the tax.
    I love that the tax ends with you and that is an inspiration for us all to vow to each other to never level a Nigger Tax against anyone else.

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  • brother boles, I pay the Nigger Tax all day every day walking down the street, standing in line and going out to eat. Thanks for saying what people try to keep shut up.

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  • Thank you for sharing your feelings here, Karvain. I appreciate your words.
    I debated if I should use the word and phrase “Nigger Tax” or not for fear that it would be misunderstood or be taken in an insulting manner.
    I am happy to see you and Jeff took the word and phrase as added value to the story. My belief is words that are censored or deemed unspeakable gain a power and sharpness that would be dulled by exposing them to everyday usage.

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  • I must admit that I haven’t experienced “the tax” as others have experienced it. But, I know it is out there and exists.
    Once, I went to a gas station in Gary, Indiana to purchase a pack of cigarettes when I was a smoker. The price was a little higher than I had calculated. I was used to buying from larger stores outside of the city that had lower prices.
    When I pulled out my money, I realized I was 15 cents short. I told the cashier I’d run back to the car to get some change to make up the difference. He said not to worry about it and took my paper cash.
    I asked my friend who was with me at the time. I said that would have never happened anywhere else. I would have been running back to the car to make up the difference or I wouldn’t be getting the cigarettes. No exceptions.
    She said that it was because I am white. The store owners want us to come into their shops and that’s why they are extra accomodating. She said when shopkeepers see white people, they see money.
    I’ve run into bad service at times. I wonder if it is the tax. I had always assumed it was poor training or a lack of interpersonal skills. I’ve found that a nice smile and a little joke or ice breaker comment turns the situation around and can make a surly clerk smile in turn.

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  • I grew up in East San Jose, Ca. My grandmother built the house in 1941 when it was surrounded by apple orchards. When I was born and we moved there in 1977, it was a Latino community, and the ‘bad’ part of town. We were blue collar, but white, and in the minority. I never knew anything else, it’s how I grew up. The black and white kids were not many, and we just didn’t realize there was a bigger world. You make do. Thing is, I wasn’t ever “Nigger Taxed” in the way you were, but in school the white/black/asian kids were. There were only hispanic gangs, and they were rough. This comment box isn’t big enough for me to explain how growing up that way is different, but I understand your blog post, more than most white people would. Weird thing is, when you grow up with it… I just, don’t get righteously angry. Just like that kid in the bronx.
    However, when I grew up and realized how most white people think — I am happy to have had the experiences that I have, becuase my paradigm is different.

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  • Its been my experience (as a “Latino” whatever that means – I suppose that being a 1st generation American from Cuban parents, qualifies me as this) that some people still discriminate based on skin color, accent, or ethnic background in general, but most people discriminate based on economic status. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen lower-class people get discriminated against just about anywhere in favor of clearly better dressed or more well educated, or more cultured types. This sort of discrimination though seems, at least from an economic perspective (and I suppose a biological one) at least a bit more sensible, seeing as how you’re more likely to get paid and accomplish your business goals with the more affluent folk than you are with the less well off. Discrimination itself isn’t necessarily evil – hell I discriminate against people all the time, we all do, but we do it for the right reasons, for example I discriminated against a girl the other day when I was at a party based on the facts that she was dressed to obviously pick up guys, she wasn’t particularly attractive, and she was obnoxious. The problem, again, is when we discriminate based on characteristics that have nothing to do with mental capacity, amicability, ability to do business with us (if that is our goal, this is the economic factor), etc.
    Am I being controversial? Oh well, its the INTJ thing ;)

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  • Very well written and very true. I experience it all the time when I teach in The Bronx. I bring lunch with me because it is useless to wait, while I pay my ‘Nigger Tax’.

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  • Jinkers! What a great slew of comments. I will do my best to answer each new one.
    Chris — Your story is touching and I wager your friend is right. :)
    Beltane — It’s nice to hear from you! After growing up White and protected in Nebraska, I moved to New York with my wife. She worked for a social services agency for the disabled and for 12 years, we were given public housing as “staff” members at a greatly reduced rent rate. We lived with those in poverty every day. We saw how those with nothing struggle to survive from month to month. We understand the messiness of Section 8 and recertification dances and we understand the disabled and the disadvantaged have no interested in remaining in their station but almost none of them have any means of pulling themselves out of abject poverty by their own talents or connections. So, they stuffer, stuck in a class of poverty they never intended or wanted but that they must live every day of their lives.
    Justin — I have been told by those who “know” that “Latino” is the preferred method of reference instead of “Hispanic” of “Mexican.” Your narrowing definition of “discrimination” is interesting. :)
    Sarah — The Bronx needs you! You are smart and fun and web-savvy and your students love you even though they may not be able to publicly express it to you. Hang in there! I am thrilled you have found a way around having to pay the Nigger Tax and your students are better for that discovery.

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  • Here’s an interesting take on your questioning using “Nigger” in your title:
    My husband and I were watching “Mind of Mencia” on the Comedy Channel. Mencia being Carlos Mencia. That man is funny in that no one is safe. If you’ve never had the opportunity to see the show, he is truly an equal opportunity offender! He pokes fun at whites, blacks, gays, Jews, Latinos – you name ‘em, he’s used them in a joke.
    Anyway, during a recent episode, he went out on the street to ask which term black people preferred – “nigga” or “nigger.” It wasn’t just what they preferred that was interesting – and funny – it was who could call them that. Some blacks said that it was okay for Latinos to call them or each other “niggas,” as long as white people didn’t do it.
    Of course, the whole segment was hilariously done, but when you really stop and think about it, then you see what’s interesting.
    If you haven’t seen the show, you must check it out. He’s awesome!

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  • Hello Carla!
    I will check out Mencia now that my favorite, Dave Chappelle, is done at Comedy Central.
    In my limited “White Man’s” understanding of the words, “Nigga” is an internal cultural term of endearment while “Nigger” is blatantly used to insult and put-down. That’s why I used Nigger in my article because that was the intention behind the word.
    You remind me of a female Black friend from New York who, last year, visited her family in South Carolina.
    She went into a donut store in the Carolinas and waited and waited to place her order.
    Finally, fed up, she said, “Hey, it’s my turn and I’ll take that chocolate donut and a regular coffee!”
    The White woman behind the counter said, “You wait your turn. I’ll get to you when I can.”
    My friend said, with increasing volume, “I’ve waited five turns already and I want my donut and coffee now!”
    The White woman looked at her and smiled as she filled her order and said, “You’re not from around here, are you? You must be an uppity Northern.”
    My friend said in a louder and even more defiant voice, “Yeah, I’m a Nigger from New York! Now give me my donut and coffee!”
    The White woman handed over her order, took her money and as my friend was leaving, the White woman smiled and said behind her back, “Well, that explains it, doesn’t it?”
    My friend smiled right back and said and she left, “I not only have my donut and coffee, but you handed over your self-respect, too.”

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  • Oh wow! That was awesome line!
    I hate hearing about episodes like that one that take place close to home, but unfortunately, I’m not surprised by it.
    I just wish it didn’t happen at all.

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  • I far as I can remember I don’t think I’ve ever been “taxed” but I unfortunately have seen it around here. I think some people just can’t get passed that this is the United States and not the Conferate States anymore. I also feel somewhat ashamed that people in my state still treat others like your friend. :neutral:

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  • Well, actually, what I mean to say is that I hate hearing about those episodes anywhere, but it especially hurts hearing about them happening close to home because I hate losing faith in the area in which I grew up.
    Just to clarify! :-)

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  • Yeah, Carla — It’s too bad negative energy has to fight negative energy all the time. There was a point in our recent history where good trumped evil and that was that. :)
    hterry — Isn’t it fascinating that the North/South battle still continues today? I am always surprised when I remind myself that Washington, D.C. is situated below the Mason-Dixon line! :grin:

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  • Carla, don’t lose faith in the Carolinas. Taxation is done in every state. It is just more -subtle- in some places compared to others.

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  • I just wanted to write that I was truly compelled by this. I have no experiences or thoughts to add – just to say it was a startling read.

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  • Thanks for the great comment, RuKsak! I appreciate the time you took to press in a kind word.

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  • You write wonderfully.
    I experirenced this as well, being part native in a predominantly white community.
    You parlayed the emotions perfectly.

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  • Hi Miss Kimberly!
    Thank you for your wonderful comment and I am sorry you get bitten by the tax as well.
    I keep reminding myself the inspiration for writing the piece after all these years was Hurricane Katrina. The United States Federal Government looked right at those people stuck in New Orleans and then looked beyond them. That gaze was chilling and deadly.

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  • What is most astounding is that people just let the taxation be paid; in both your stories it was taken as normal to wait in a separate line which was served at the convenience of the cashier.
    Now I may not have travelled the length and breadth of my country of origin (Britain) but I have never seen anything as disgusting as what is related in this article. There is racism, but it’s not condoned by a majority sufficient to let that kind of thing happen. At least not in my experience…
    I’ve also lived in Morocco and currently I’m in France, and haven’t been victim to “Nigger Tax” myself either, except maybe once at the Moroccan electricty company. But nothing as bad as this.

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  • Hi fruey —
    I appreciate your insight. A lot of people don’t realize the tax is being levied. It doesn’t occur to the majority that such a thing could ever consciously happen. Those who are taxed have often learned it is better to take the tax and move on than to always pick a fight over a place in light or a sideways glare.

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  • I pay a variant of that tax because I speak with an accent that leaves one with no doubt as to my regional origins-I sound like Barney Fife.
    I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone up to a counter to ask about something, opened my mouth, and seen the demeanor of the person on the other side change 100%. My wife (who is incidentally a native of the area) was also shocked the first few times she saw it-I think she’s become as numb as I am to it now.

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  • Hi JollyRoger —
    Ah! Your variant on the tax is interesting. I do not doubt people get taxed for accents and I think that’s even meaner than taxing on looks alone!

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  • Its crazy how true that story is and how oftern it is present in American Society and elsewhere. For example at my school there is the large group of “Average” african americans who to many are almost outcasts and are looked upon as though they are unwanted. But their are the rare few “white” african americans at my school that talk white, dress white, and do what are considered to be white things, they are not frowned upon.

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  • crazy cloon — Welcome and thank you for sharing your direct experience with the topic expressed in this post. I appreciate the time you took to shed some light on what is a dim and unfortunate human condition.

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  • A truly remarkable revelation. Your ability to recognise and call the Nigger Tax by its correct name is truly admirable. I am a Nigger, and damn proud of it. Denying this fact, would be pretty much like the a donkey claiming not to be a jackass, because of the negative vibes that goes with the latter noun. I am a nigger because the entire world recognises me as one. It doesn’t matter what I consider myself to be, true communication can only begin when I honor the cultures and hang-ups of others. I will never be offened by the use of the word nigger, regardless of its intent or spellings. I will only try to be as patient and over-standing to another’s culture and hang-ups, as the young man was in your story. Thanks for enlightening me! I thought I was the last of a dying breed. Some people want to ban or censor NIGGER, as if it isn’t really the best word to describe what those who use it means. Our dictionaries should reflect the mentality of our society and the defintion of the word nigger should not be changed or altered, because its current usage is accurate. As the mentality of our society changes, then admendments or new defintions should be added to further expand our usage or non usage of the word. Old definitions should never be deleted, because in deleting them, we will also be deleting our true history. Us Niggers have come too far to be deleted or banned! May we live on to thrive, until Non-Niggers kill us off, by eliminating their discriminitory practices and behaviors. Those who think Niggers don’t exist, need only to recognise. Peace be with you, my Nigger!

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  • Thanks for the beautiful comment, niggerman!

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  • Hmm well im from Canada, and we see alot of the “nigger tax” to. My religion is sikhism, I don’t know if many of you will know which religion this is, but its been founded in India. Well I don’t this is nigger tax but it made me feel just as shitty. My mom had gone grocery shopping with my little brother, and in our religion we are supposed to keep our hair. Well another customer walks up to my mom and my brother, grabs my brothers hair, and tells my mom she should cut it. He said that now we’re living in Canada we should adapt to the Canadian culture. My mom told him Canada is a multicultural country, and if he doesn’t respect that then its time he adjusted to the actual culture Canada posseses. If I had been there I would of said way more, I don’t see my grandparents telling the foreigners back home to start growing their hair or wear our clothing. Im only 17 so im sure to see more of this. But it sure is disgusting, and I’d spit on a racist anytime. Why don’t people mind their own business and live their own lives. I’m not telling anybody to convert to my religion. Just let us live for gods sake. Racism is so common and right in our faces, why do we let it flourish? Maybe we dont let it….but it still does. How and why? Theres gotta be a real good answer for that. All I gotta say is I’m going to try to eliminate it as much as possible. And like my english teacher says “Racists eat poo”. :)

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  • Thank you for sharing your powerful story with us, Simran.

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  • I guess I’ve experienced something similar to the tax stories, although it isn’t quite the same in terms of customer service experiences as others have mentioned. As a pharmacy student, I live in cheap housing in Buffalo NY in a semi-gentrified, semi-non dangerous area (think of apartments with non-working AC units, lots of spiders and bugs, and the sound of gunshots a few neighborhoods over). I’m one of maybe four white people living in a predominantly black environment.
    Anyway, one day, when driving home from work, I was about to stop at a stop sign. Keep in mind there are kids and families living here. Many families work, some do not and may be angry at their lot in life. Since there are kids playing, most cars (except for the young tough gangbanger wannabees) drive real slow, like 10 miles an hour over these poorly paved streets, and I drive slow too.
    A young kid on his bike was biking near the stop sign, and swerves thinking I was going to hit him as I came to a stop. How could he think I was going to hit him? I was already braking and was only going ten miles an hour? Was it because I was white? Then I found out why when one of his relatives yelled “Honkey” Another yelled “Cracker”. Not missing a beat, I shouted back “It’s Mr. Saltine to you”.
    This experience left me feeling shaken. I was hated here.
    Even when I go biking near South campus, young black men talk to each other and ask themselves if they’ve seen that whitey before. I hate this type of discrimination. So I go back to my steaming ninety degree apartment and drink beer and think about all this. Racism swings both ways.
    You can even see reverse discrimination among schools. If you have problems in anatomy in medical school, it is easier to get extra help if you’re black, but if you’re white and having problems, forget about it. Equal opportunity has proved helpful to young middle class black men and women to gain access to higher education as lawyers, doctors, and other professionals, but it has now begun to discriminate against middle class white men and women.
    It is a subtler discrimination than my experiences in the “hood” but it is still discrimination. So all I can do is go home, drink some beers, and look forward to better days when I am out of school and away from this neighborhood.

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  • Nick:
    Wowser! What an incredibly touching and real story. I feel for you.
    I also feel for your safety and I hope you can get out of that neighborhood soon and into another one that appreciates your fine contribution to society.
    Thanks for sharing “the other side” of the discrimination coin!

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  • The way I see it the only people left in society you are aloud to discriminate against are white males. I have no problem with equality, but white guys deserve some to. My job is to screen potential candidates for my local police department. Of the aplications we get from people wanting to be officers we only accept about 12% but my job is to seperate the aplications into groups, natives, blacks, women, native women, black women, and then white people in another, about 90% of aplications we get are from white guys, but 40% of our accepted officers are less qualified minoritys. Your best chance at getting accepted isn’t whats on your resume, but if your a native woman. Isn’t this racism in its purest form, isn’t that just as bad as turning down an aplicant cause they are black…or paying women less than men… I have tried talking to my boss and tried changing this, but I dont want to be replaced by some black guy.

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  • David, your story touches across the sea. I live in Sweden and found this by chance, and it really moved me.
    I don’t know if you know but a lot of people in Europe, or Sweden at least, talk bad about America as a nation of drugs, violence, hypocrisy and racism but I didn’t buy that. I open-mindedly/naïvely dismissed it as prejudice but reading this… I was stunned.
    In Sweden we don’t have any ‘real’ discrimination, mostly prejudice against nighboorhoods with many immigrants. Coming from that (I live in a fairly wealthy community as well, so I’ve hardly never experienced discrimination or racism at all) to reading this where it hits you smack in the face and in the middle of everyday life…
    It gets you. Real hard.

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  • Welcome to Urban Semiotic, Muskot, and thank you for your kind and generous message!
    You never know what kind of story will reach people across the world and I am so thrilled you took a moment to share your thoughts on this important topic of Race and responsibility.

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  • I got the Nigger tax in Japan. I was at a bake shop trying to order some baked goods but it was taking forever because they were serving the Japanese first. I almost threw the breaded goods on my tray across the room at the ugly cashier, when a younger guy saw what was happening and let me in. then a bunch of friends and I got the Nigger tax when we tried to stay at a hotel that was off-limits to foreigners in Tokyo. We should’ve kicked their asses, or at least sh*t in their Hello Kitty umbrella holder.
    I think we all get the Nigger tax so we learn how bad it is and we don’t pass it on.

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  • Welcome to Urban Semiotic, Momo, and thanks for sharing your experience. I agree we all need to feel the bite of the tax so we don’t charge anyone else with it. Well said!

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  • greetings from the UK,
    my background is mixed race, black/white
    having been on vacation to a few countries around the world,
    and lived and worked in a few others, the USA being one of them
    I think I’ve seen, not always paid, most types of nigger tax in
    all its many guises.
    ignorance knows no bounds, from the un-educated to the professional.
    we have to accept that there are positive and negative people on this planet
    and it will never change, some people are just born that way.
    there are some people that never change from when they were at school,
    they get older but their mindset is still that of a child.
    like the school bully, they get great joy and satisfaction from thinking
    they have put someone down with some show of disrespect, and like the
    bully at school they are the most indignant and outraged when the tables
    are turned on them, not ever expecting to receive back what they normally
    dish out.
    i have to say I’ve come across most types of racism, ranging from verbal to
    violent behaviour, I can understand the mindset of these people, as for me its
    no different from when i was at school
    but i have to say i was shocked and surprised the first time i was faced with
    nigger tax from….. American niggers!
    looking back on it and with some intensive inquires, i now know it was because I’m mixed and not full blood black.
    after over 400 years of oppression, the divide and conquer process is still
    working!! some people still haven’t realised that unity is power, but to be
    unified you must be be able to care for other people and share with other
    people instead of just thinking of yourself.
    selfishness is one of the root causes of many of the problems for blacks in
    the world, not only in the USA.
    from my limited experience, blacks only unite when their backs are against the wall.
    still with every slight i have encountered, i still get a buzz when i meet a
    positive, friendly and open minded person.
    which just goes to show, that not everybody is ignorant, regardless of race.
    the only way forward is to be positive, joining the ignorant is not an option,
    and i will always try to treat people as i would like them to treat me.
    peace!

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  • Thank you for the powerful comment, Gerry, and welcome to Urban Semiotic!

    Like

  • Great Story,
    Unfortunately this tax is so alive and breathing.
    However to combat that you need to get your phone out and call 311 and file a complaint and ask to see some changes.

    I have lived in Northern Manhattan (Harlem and Washington Heights) for the majority of my adult life. I definitely have experienced the rudeness of employees at the local grocery due to a lack of my Spanish speaking skills.

    Again I combat that ignorance with a nice 311 call saying I want the establishment checked to make sure all of their business practices are professional up to snuff. No business wants the government breathing down their neck.

    Or Demand your respect by asking to speak to a manager.

    Both have fruitful results.

    Like

    • Speaking to the manager might be a good idea, Demond. I’m surprised calling 311 is effective.

      In NJ, there’s a Latino supermarket I frequent. Sometimes I’m waited on in the deli. Sometimes not. There’s one particular cashier in the main groceries line who, every time she sees me, closes her station, and smiles as she sends me away. I get into another line, and she, magically is “done with her break” and reopens her lane.

      I realize I’m likely the only White Face they see in a week of work — but this is getting crazy! I’ve never spoken to any of them or interacted with any of them of any sort of meaningful level — so they’re solely judging me — on how I look and I hate to think it’s the color of my skin… but I suppose I should know better by now…

      Like

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