When I was a senior at Indiana University (read: when I had my head up my hard ass), I worked part time as a supervisor in the MRC dorm cafeteria. There was a time when I was having a difficulty with three students. I have no idea what the dispute was but at one point one of them said something that I found particularly exasperating and I said “You people!”
My choice of words was unfortunate, the three individuals involved were African-Americans. They immediately took exception (and I can hardly blame them). There were two threads of conversation that took place simultaneously from that point.
“You people, what do you mean, you people?!”
“Students” I believe this was paired with a “duh” but not the kind of “duh” that was once hip and now passe. Just an involuntary syllable.
The second was:
“What are you doing, bringing race into this?”
“I didn’t bring race up. You are the one’s who brought race up!”
Although I had my head up my hard ass, I was hardly capable of deceit and they promptly perceived that I was completely sincere when I said I meant students. The event ended uneventfully.
The newly elected governor of Ohio, John Kasich, recently had a similar experience. It seems Kasich is the first Ohio governor in fifty years to put together a cabinet comprised entirely of white people. When the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus offered Kasich assistance in
finding qualified minority applicants, Kasich told Turner, “I don’t need your people.”
The governor’s spokesperson:
What he meant was, “Your people are Democrats, we don’t need them on our cabinet”
Part of me says I have to give Kasich the benefit of the doubt given my own experience. Part of me says “Yeah, riiiiight!”
You are welcome to draw your own conclusions.