Race, even in furniture buying

It seems like in a day and age of Trump running the United States of America, everything seems to be about race. When you are anything but white, you have to think about race all the time. And when you’re white, it’s easy to take for granted the fact that you have that privilege. Like in this guy’s case that I’m about to describe, he thought he could take advantage of being white by “paying me later” when trying to buy our dresser.

After seeing our Craigslist ad, this guy said he’d be over on a Saturday and rent a truck, and his friend would come to help him move the dresser out of our apartment. As he’s on his way, he called me to let me know that his friend would be meeting him, but he’d probably get to the building sooner, and so, “Don’t worry about the Hispanic guy hanging out outside your building. He’s not there to rob you; he’s my friend just coming to help me transport the dresser. He’s a good guy.”

That phone call already started the bad taste in my mouth about this guy.

Then, when he arrived, his friend opened the truck door and he came into the building when I let him in. He introduced himself and asked, “It’s okay if I Venmo you, right? Can I do it later?”

Um, no. I expect the money before you leave my apartment and take my stuff. You need to pay me now.

He immediately looked exasperated, as though I asked him to give him some exorbitant amount of money for the dresser or was making him go out of his way. “Well, now I need to get my friend to give me my phone so I can Venmo you now, then.”

That… was not a problem. Your friend was literally 50 feet away. You could easily have him go get your phone. What, when this guy goes to a store, does he take merchandise out of the store and tell the cashier, “Hey! I’ll pay you later?”

So he Venmoed me, no problem. Then, they took the dresser out and he left. But I was still annoyed. Even though we got a decent chunk of money for the dresser, the entire experience made me mad. First, he stereotyped his friend and projected his stereotypes of Latino people onto me as though I would feel unsafe seeing a brown man coming into my apartment (ha, because my husband is brown, too), thus exuding the classic “I’m not racist, I have a black friend” attitude. Then, he expected to get away with “paying later,” and I’m almost 100 percent certain he did that because he’s a white guy who thinks he can be trusted just because of his race. And as though it were really relevant, he said he was a resident at Columbia.

Yeah, I don’t care who you are — black, white, orange, rich, poor, a tree hugger, or a doctor. When you come to my apartment after seeing my Craigslist ad, you pay for the furniture you said you would buy. Then, you take it out. And then you get out immediately.

Why did this annoy me again tonight? Because tonight, we had a guy come with his brother to buy and dismantle our bed frame, and not only was he extremely polite and hesitant to even enter our apartment, without question he paid us immediately in cash before he touched a single part of the bed. And this guy was black. And I can guarantee that he did this because he’s hyper aware of his skin color and how he’s perceived, and he knows for a fact he’d never, ever get away with what that white guy did and pull a “I’ll pay you later” stunt. It probably would never even enter his mind the way it did with the white guy who bought the dresser.

That made me so mad. It made me mad that this African American guy was so polite and really didn’t have to be that polite, and it made me mad that that white guy was so nonchalant about paying because he’s got white privilege. Everything is about race, even furniture buying and selling.

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