Am I racist? It seems it would be an easy question to answer. I wish it was. Here is why I wonder: I have an RA working for me this summer that is black and he is lazy. Lazy is such an easy stereotype to (inaccurately) ascribe to a black person – it’s common knowledge, n’est pas? Whenever I think it about him I cringe and wonder if I am being fair. Here is the record:

  • This morning I told him that if any of the campers that had their ID Cards taken from them – punishment for being late to curfew – he should give them their cards, tell them to come down tomorrow morning at 8 AM as they were supposed to do this morning, and then to record their names so I knew whom to expect tomorrow morning. One of the campers came down and he gave the ID card but did neither of the other things.
  • Yesterday a door to the dorm was propped open. This is a huge issue and is to be done only in extreme circumstances. I had only recently propped the door and I knew that he had no knowledge of why it was an extreme circumstance. He walked through the open doorway without any effort being spent to find out if it should have been.
  • He moves so slowly when being waited on. The other day I opened the door for arriving staff – they did not yet have ID cards that granted them access to the dorm – and I saw him so I held the door for him. He definitely saw me and did nothing to accelerate his pace.
  • There are other events from last year which I do not remember specifics of, but I reached the same conclusion last year.

Some may read the above list as proof of a bias and some read it as enough evidence to adequately attach the label – I do have a problem with the notion of lazy, but I will assume here that it is a measurable trait. As to the door issue I can say I saw another RA not long after the black RA make the same error. I do not consider her lazy, not yet anyways, because I have only worked with her a few days now and have not seen a pattern of laziness. Yet, it is the pattern where racism precisely exists.

When is it a pattern? The threshold of discriminating the lazy from the non-lazy is in the measurement of the pattern, with blacks usually being given a lower qualification threshold. This is why I cringe. The above issues are clearly lazy, but is that enough for me to consider him lazy?

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