apartment hunt: No, really… I’m black.

I’m going to keep a bunch of these entries in draft mode until this is all done with, because I respond to the craigslist apartment postings with my usual e-mail address and signature which includes the address of my blog. It’s due to my very first craigslist callback checking out my blog that brought this about.

I was in the middle of easing my stress playing some WoW when the phone rings. Seeing it’s a 202 number*, I leave my Shaman to get trashed while I answer the call and grab for my notepad. She seemed like a very nice sort, clearly read my e-mail about my situation and while I’m on the phone, she’s surfing to my website/blog. Now if you’ve ever chatted with people while they’re not just surfing, but actually reading a web page/site, you know it’s impossible. Their attention is no longer focused on you. However, lucky me that my top o’ the page entry at the time happened to re-state my current situation. So I’m more or less telling her what she’s already reading online. When I say reading, I mean reading out loud, so I’m not sure if I should speak or I should let her speak, or what.

Scene from the movie Soul Man

She asks a bit more about what I write about and then she asks, “Is that you.. I mean a picture of you in the corner?” I replied that it was me, yes. She then asked, “So you’re black? Because you don’t sound like a black person. I mean you weren’t raised in.. uh..” I cut her off, “I grew up in the suburbs, near Atlanta.” She seemed a little hesitant, but satisfied with my answer and continued to tell me about the apartment.

I’m a little surprised I even found a voice to speak with her after that because I was stuck in that moment that a lot of minorities (of any type) get. The “Did I hear what I think I just heard?” moment. As I was keen to get through the phone call and make my first callback a good one, I didn’t call her on it and made an appointment for the following Sunday morning. I’ll be in the area around that time anyway, so it’s no skin off my nose. And the uppity black man in me** really wants to see this woman in person.

Cut to four days later…

So I’m not saving this one up because I don’t plan on taking the apartment and it’s still bothering me a little bit. I have been torn between whether her statement was racist or just… stupid. In reflection it seems like the latter, that perhaps her “brain to mouth” filter wasn’t working. 🙄

PDF of the apartment listing

I did keep the appointment and met her and she seemed nice enough. I got there at the same time as a couple that were viewing a 2-bedroom place in the same building. The landlady was a little too comfortable in her tenants’ apartment, taking a seat and putting her feet up, letting her dog run around the place even though they had a cat. The apartments were certainly nice enough, but some of the statements made worried me. Primarily, “Everyone’s a nice person here because I handpick them. And I only pick nice people.” Seemingly innocuous, but for a moment it also sounded like a cult invitation. But I will say this, her dog was absolutely adorable.

So it wasn’t the best start to the apartment hunt, but I have the feeling it could have been a lot worse. I do wonder what might have happened if she hadn’t seen a photo of me prior to my showing up. Would she have called the cops? :mrgreen: I’ve included a PDF of the listing, for both reference and sort of an internet hobo-sign of warning,*** with the identifying information redacted or removed. As you can see, it sounds like a nice enough place, but I’ll pass. I can still wait to move till I find the perfect place, I already lined up movers with moving companies dfw, but they will have to wait to start handling my things it seems!

I would like to assure my readers that I am in fact a black man. I am not, I repeat, not C. Thomas Howell. And yes, I’m very well-spoken.

* Much as I love my iPhone, would it be too much to ask AT&T to give proper caller ID information with both name and number?

** Yes, there is one. Don’t look so shocked.

*** It would be awesome if people could really flag craigslist ads with hobo signs instead of just marking them as spam or miscategorized, etc.


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10 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    I’m reminded of Bruce Daniels: “Speaking proper English doesn’t make me whiter than you. It just makes me smarter.” :mrgreen:

  2. Mazzie says:

    Your question as to whether she was racist or stupid strikes me as funny because they are so often the same. I am not going to be so presumptuous as to break it down, but I just don’t see how that is not racist. And ignorant. And stupid. And inexcusable.

  3. Lindsay says:

    This woman gives me a cluster headache in my left eyesocket.

  4. Fearless says:

    Hmmm…she sounds like a Meddler to me. Anyone who values his or her privacy will run like the wind from this potential landlady.

    latest entry: "We are going to die out here."

  5. Mike says:

    Even though I grew up in an ethnically diverse family I still got an education from my bf who is also Black on the stuff like this and more that still happens. From his own experiences in apartment hunting not that long ago (phone call says they have apartments, appear in person and they have no more) or even DWB in parts of this area, this kind of stuff is still all too common.

    What your experience does is educate your readers that people this stupid and racist still exist and that people of color encounter this stuff all too often. I don’t think the stupid people realize how those statements marginalize the person they just said that to, hence they are both racist AND stupid.

  6. Fredo says:

    Okay, first off, that she called you and then proceeded to read your blog (semi-)aloud while you were on the phone smacks of rudeness.

    Second, her statement, “Everyone’s a nice person here because I handpick them. And I only pick nice people.” raises a big ol’ red flag for me and makes me think her applicant screening process toes the line of illegality.

    And what’s an internet hobo?

    latest entry: F, Mass., N. Capitol

  7. Esprix says:

    Ditto the illegalities involved here. How does one go about reporting this kind of stuff?

    latest entry: "We’re very close…"

  8. Gilahi says:

    Didn’t a comment like that get a certain police inspector in trouble during the O.J. trial?

    latest entry: Friday Funnies

  9. karona says:

    I vote for stupid definitely, and mildly racist, maybe? I say this as a white chick who did not grow up with ANY black folk around and so is unintentionally ignant and that may come across as racist? I don’t know.

    I have two clients right now who are black. One I could tell on the phone. One I had NO CLUE til I met with her. It was all of a split second adjustment to my mental image of her (duh), and then that was no longer a blip on the radar of our consultation.

    IOW, I kept the thought about “not sounding black” to myself. Same as when an asian girl opens her mouth and out comes completely accent-less English.

    Okay, so this whole comment… is awkward. I shall shutup now. 🙂

    Give her hell. At least for being an idiot.

  10. Wow. 😯 I jut got to watch a similar piece of idiocy play out in my writer’s workshop last Friday – some poor screenwriter showed up black and another writer in the room just did NOT know what to do with that, which led to a monlogue on various black screenwriters. I think he may have just wanted to prove that he knew their names, and it was kinda obvious to me that the screenwriter-kid didn’t.

    latest entry: Neon Lights Trashion Fragrance Handmade Artisan Perfume

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