Do you have any idea how hard it is to declare that you are a white guy and not make it sound like you're a racist? I didn't either until I had this recent email exchange:
Greetings, and allow me to introduce myself. I am SFC Michael Sampson1, an Equal Opportunity Advisor (EOA) from Ft Bragg, NC2. I am in search of a guest speaker for the Hispanic Appreciation Festival/Luncheon3 that will be held on the 2nd of Oct. 20114 at Ft Bragg. I was wondering if you would be our guest speaker for this Festival/Luncheon. I look forward to hearing from you.
Yes, the email really did start off with UNCLASSIFIED. Good to know.
Since I make a portion of my income doing public speaking events (and pickings are slim in 2011 thus far on that front), I was intrigued. And a little puzzled. So I sent this missive:
I haven't been back to Ft. Bragg since I was born there5.
I'd love to come, but am curious as to the content you're looking for and how I might contribute?
Because who knows? Maybe my fame has reached all the way back to my birth place, and they want me for my fine oratory skills rather than the path my ancestors took to the New World.
I awaited his reply with much anticipation and was rewarded with:
I thank you for your reply. We are looking for a 25-30 minute speech on the topic of Hispanic culture in America; struggles, personal gains and/or losses. Just a speech of your experiences, be they either positive or negative. And maybe how those experiences helped you or deterred you thus far in life. I hope that is some help to you.
Now... I'm pretty quick on my feet. And rather resourceful. At this point I'm 100% confident I can nail, NAIL the type of presentation the Army is looking for. I shall take the audience on an emotional roller-coaster in those 25-30 minutes that leaves them weeping at parts and cheering in others. They. Will. Love me.
Just one problem. See if you can figure it out in my reply:
It seems to me this information would best be presented by someone of Hispanic lineage. I don't check that box when it's census time. :)
Because how the hell do you say to someone, someone who thinks you are of a particular minority, that you are, instead, a pasty white guy? You can't come right out and say Sorry, but I'm white. Because that is the exact same thing as saying Whaddaya think I am, a Mexican?, which is not at all what I was trying to say!
To say I trembled in anticipation of his reply would not be far from the truth. It arrived:
I aplogize if I have in anyway offended you. I thank you for your time.
FUCK! I did it anyhow. Gods dammit, man! Did you not see the smiley-face at the end of my prior email?! How could that have failed to properly convey the levity in my statement?
In a meek frenzy (yeah, picture that), I quickly replied with:
No offense taken, Michael. Honestly, I was more concerned of that going the other way. :)
Great. No other option but to go with the I have plenty of Latino friends line, I suppose. To which I can only assume he's thinking:
... fucking racist.
1 - Not his real name. Don't want to Google-bomb the poor fellow.
2 - Not the real military installation. See #1
3 - Not the real name of the event. Though it was Hispanic. See #2
4 - Not the real date. This is the military, people. They have really good weapons.
5 - Not true with #2. But I was born at the real installation in the real email. From the real guy. Really.