OK, I have to do some clarifying here. The guy who made the comment to me about editors was not an editor; he was a writer and technically I was in middle management so I was his superior. (Ugh, I hate that term.) All the editors were black (including me), but as with most editors, someone else has to look over your copy because self-editing isn’t always as thorough. The problem was I didn’t see her edits until print day when it was too late to fix them — and this repeatedly kept happening.
He just decided somewhere along the line that I had “too much power” when I was first hired and apparently felt like me vocalizing the typos was something I would not do with an all-white staff. My issue was that he looked past everything I said about my posts being filled with typos that were added later and went straight to, “You wouldn’t act like this with white people.” It would’ve made more sense to make a comment like this if he’d seen me “yes, suh, boss” in front of white editors. The comment just came so out of left field for me because it had zip zero to do with race and everything to do with straight-up editing.
Quite frankly, I think he would describe me the way you’re describing this person on the plane. I think the only way I could convince the man that my reaction would’ve been the same is if someone non-black had done the same thing. And low and behold, I had a similar problem with an intern (white) who was hired to edit a news piece. The problem was I sold those pieces as a freelancer so it was under the ownership of the publication. Still though, my name was on those and I insisted the typos be fixed. I genuinely think the writer I’m referring to would’ve been stunned that my response was consistent. I don’t care if you’re white, black, Asian, Latino. I just wanted clean copy, or at least just my own screw-ups instead of someone else’s. He’d just convinced himself that I only cared when it was black people — without a shred of proof otherwise.
As far as your story, I’m on the fence with this one. If someone in plainclothes looks like they’re cutting in line, I can see the initial frustration. Once the ID was flashed, then I can see why an apology made sense. But you say, “He acted just like a White man in that instant,” but proceed to repeatedly tell me about the white guy who apologized profusely and felt bad about it. So I can’t really agree with “acting just like a white man” because if that’s the case, then the actual white guy’s behavior should’ve been the norm. I can’t really take a side on this story because I would need to see how everybody acted in that particular scenario. For example, was your partner matching the black guy’s energy?
The plainclothes part is what’s making me pause because I’ve seen this too many times with plainclothes cops. They want to be treated as cops with a badge, gun and uniform but look like Mr. Random on the street. If you don’t know who this person is or why this person cannot identify themselves, and it looks like they’re butting in line, I’m 50/50 here. What am I missing?
I get your larger point that sometimes folks will get just OD to make themselves admirable to the higher-ups. I don’t dispute that. I’m struggling with this example though.