Where I am from, there is not much diversity. That was really highlighted for me while I was home this past weekend. One of the most popular places in my hometown is a bagel shop. Everyone goes to it and I often find myself running into old friends there both serving food and getting food. In the summer, the local swim team has a tradition of going there after every practice (a tradition that I was part of establishing), so I have a lot of fond memories of the shop. So, being sick of Pennsylvania ‘bagels’, I was excited to go get a bagel which would complete my trip home.
While I was home, my parents were looking to replace my mom’s car. They found a used car that they liked in Camden. The one morning, I received a call from my parents that they were bringing the car to our local mechanic for a look-over and that to make sure that they did not just drive off with the car, the owner of the dealership had his 20 year old son go with my parents. My parents suggested that while they were back in Medford that we grab breakfast at the bagel shop. So I met my parents and the young man that was with them at the bagel shop.
The young man was named Pedro and he was very easy to get along with. However, while we were at the shop, I could not help but notice that people were watching him, and, because my family brought him, people were watching us too. This got me thinking about what it would be like if I were eating and someone who obviously was not from Medford came into the shop. This is one of the situations my aversive would come through because nobody knew else know why Pedro was there; they just knew that he was not usually there and was not from Medford. Implicit biases are more likely to surface and affect the situation when the situation is ambiguous. To me, the situation is not ambiguous, I know why Pedro was with me and so I was fine. However, if I had not known and the situation was more ambiguous, I would be warry of the man that came in. This really hit home because Pedro and I are the same age. We are similar in a lot of ways, however, based on his race, people view him differently.
One of things that Pedro told me about was the bagel shop that he went to growing up and how great it was. Would I have been watched and judge the way Pedro was if I went with him into his local bagel shop? Is there anything that I could have done to make the situation less ambiguous making aversive racism less likely?