Is It Racist?

Filed under fun times on the subway, living in new york sucks so hard

Yesterday morning, I got to Grand Central fairly late, so the morning rush had mostly passed, and I got a comfortable spot on the train. It was held at the station for a few minutes, though, so my comfortable spot soon became cramped as more and more people came down to the platform and tried to pack themselves into the train. Just before the doors closed, a large black man crammed himself in as far as he could, but it wasn’t enough. The doors kept trying to close and then opening back up again, and the man kept thrusting his belly farther and farther into people’s backs to make room, hoping he would finally fit.

A white lady near me got annoyed finally and said, “Get out! There’s not enough room for you.” The man said, “There would be enough room if people would move in.” I disagreed with this, as I was crushed against the person next to me to the point that I couldn’t retrieve my Kindle from my bag, and I was at the point in my book where a vampire baby was about to be born to a human, so you know I would’ve done anything I could to get to it. The woman also disagreed and said, “Where am I supposed to go?! The huge empty space over there?” She was being sarcastic. The guy said, “All of the hot air coming out of you sure is taking up a lot of room.” The woman said, “Oh, great. Another one of them with an attitude.”

The black woman next to me whipped her head around to look at the white lady so fast that I could hear the wind she created whooshing by me, but . . . surely that’s not what she meant, right?


  1. caropal says:

    Yep… I’d guess that was racist.

  2. dd says:

    Maybe you can console yourself with the option that his comment was implied sexism as much as hers was implied racism. “Mouthy woman!” “Uppity blacky!”

    Then you don’t have to feel badly about/for either of them!

    • Oh, cool, now I can hate them both equally.

      Although I am really proud when anyone stands up for his or her self here. For as strong-willed as New Yorkers supposedly are, most people seem like cowards to me. And the people who aren’t cowards are usually legitimately crazy.

  3. Kim says:

    Might have been, but I’d have let it slide because I’m so firmly on the lady’s side right now. It sure is obnoxious when people won’t move all the way into the train, but that’s topped by the mouthy jerks who want to blame everyone inside a packed train for the fact that they can’t fit.

    Hear that, 77th St.? NOT MY FAULT YOU’RE TOO FAT to walk to 86th St instead of yelling like a brat and refusing to let the train move.

    Good post. I’m all riled up now.

    • Seriously! And if you ARE too fat to walk to 86th Street, at least take the 6 one stop uptown and get on there. I have intensely sexual fantasies about someday working on the Upper East Side and being able to ride the completely empty 4, 5, or 6 up to work every day.

      But yeah, there’s NEVER a need to shove your way onto the train. If you have the sort of job where waiting for the next train and arriving 2 minutes later is a problem, leave the house at 7 a.m. and quit ruining my ride.

  4. bluzdude says:

    The woman was in the right, up until the last comment, which was unnecessary. And racist.

    There were so many better insults at her disposal…

    “Well, me and my hot air were in time to get a spot on the train… buh-bye…”

    • Cristy says:

      I’m with bluz.

      • Meeeeeeeeeeeeee, too. I’m not sure if it was intentionally racist or if latent racism comes out when you’re trying to think of a quick comeback, but either way, I was pretty surprised.

    • Now I’m wishing the rest of us had purposely shoved him back off the train.

      When I make a movie about the pains/joys of the subway, that’s going to be one of the scenes. And there’s going to be such a cheer that goes up in the train when he falls backward onto the platform that the movie audience will go half-deaf.

  5. Bob Dole says:

  6. EeEeEeEe says:

    Yeah, there’s a lot better things she could have said that wouldn’t have been racist. Like…”I don’t need the attitude!” would have been at least a little bit better.

    Or how about: “Why don’t you walk? You could use the exercise!”

    Of course, that just points out how it’s not OK in our society to make fun of someone because of their race but it is OK to make fun of someone because of their weight.

    • Who ARE you, person commenting from my work mail server? Because I love you for this comment.

      • Mike Lowrey says:

        I guess the deal is that you can’t change your skin color, (believe me Michael Jackson tried really, really hard) but if you don’t like your weight.. you really have the ability to change it. It may not be easy but it is something you can control.

  7. Serial says:

    Ummm … she could have been referring to something other than race, sure. But we know she wasn’t insulting him for being fat, because everyone knows fat people are jolly.

  8. kimz says:

    I’d like to point out that the ad that’s popping up on the side of this post is for Interracial Dating Central. Their slogan? “Where it’s okay to color outside the lines.”

  9. Michael Madden says:

    My immediate reaction, just reading it, is that it SOUNDS racist. Whether she really meant it that way or not, probably doesn’t matter much — perception is reality. Lesson: no matter what you really mean, the way you say things and the words that come out of your mouth really do matter.

    • Case in point: Kim’s comment above about the ad accompanying this post for an interracial dating site that says “it’s okay to color outside the lines”. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, and yet because it has a picture of a white guy raping a black woman above it, I find myself saying the slogan in a dirty way in my head.


  10. Serial says:

    Everyone’s a little bit racist!

    • But usually people know to keep it in their pants.

      Whereas in my office, we openly have a lunch table for whites, one for blacks, and one for Asians. If we ever get any Latinos, they’re going to have to eat at their desks.

  11. Yep, that comment was racist.

    Trust me on this one. I live in Louisiana. I can smell a racist douche nozzle a mile away.

    (It’s a learned skill.)

  12. Tracey says:

    I got to this party late and have nothing unique to say.

    Except to remind you that you’re less than two days away from luxurious Midwestern car rides where you won’t have such annoyances to content with.

  13. thickcrust says:

    I have a hard time taking any accusations of racism that are leveled at passengers in NYC public transit. People are so cavalier with their insults. That’s probably giving them more credit than they deserve. People don’t think before they speak.

    Just a few weeks ago a Hispanic kid called me the “n-word” on an elevated platform. After I admonished him for calling me that, he called me “honkey” before settling on “red neck”, which he repeated a number of times before the train finally came.

    And it’s true from the other side as well. Several years ago Kelley and I watched a guy take a piss on the platform. Kelley told him he was disgusting. To which he responded “Oh! It’s because I’m black, right? You’re a racist!”

    She laughed at him and said “No, it’s because your dick is small.”

    Actually, she didn’t say that because she didn’t want to have an argument with the guy. But if she had wanted to argue with him, that would have been the best thing to say. After all, the only thing that is more likely to get a response than calling someone a racist is accusing him of having a small penis.

    • Mike Lowrey says:

      Damn I wish I was there when the guy called you a honkey.

      I would have said, “don’t call my lil ‘tarded friend no honkey you…{insert a few Spanish racial slurs here}!”

      • Mike Lowrey says:

        I can’t help it, I grew up in the hood.
        In the hood there’s always Black/Spanish/White/Jewish/Arab/Muslim/Scandinavian/Sweedish/Rich/Poor/Light-skinned/Dark-Skinnded beef in the hood.

        I was in a bodega in BedSty the other day and a Spanish/Black guy walked in and just started insulting the fugg out of the Arab bodega owner. The Owner fired a few insults back and then they both laughed and shook hands.
        lol, I love the hood sometimes.