On the surface, racism is not suppose to exist in the org. I have a different experience . . .
I use to work for a brother who was also a general contractor. Most of his crew were JW's from various trades. I was very young, newly married, and I was working as a general laborer. About six months into my job with this brother, he hired on a former Bethelite named Leo. Leo was living with his Carribean bride, also a former Bethelite, in Tijuana, BC, and commuted each day across the border to the very rich San Diego town of Fairbanks Ranch, CA. My wife at the time was hispanic, and during lunches Leo and I got to know eachother and he graciously invited my wife and I down to his house in Las Playas, Tijuana for a meal and some socializing.
We arrived around noon one Saturday looking forward to meeting Leo's wife. We waited a long time in their dining room, about 20 minutes and were mostly left alone. Finally Leo emerged from the hallway to announce that his wife was on her way out to meet us. It was just weird . . . the wait, the silence, the formal annoucement of his wife about to appear . . .
She entered the dining room, a beautiful dark skinned woman, tall and graceful. She took my breath away. We were introduced and I felt their eyes upon us at all times, scrutinizing, looking for some sort of disapproval that Leo was white and she was black. I only expected her to be Hispanic. It only intrigued me that this white ex-Bethelite brother, also a former elder, and his black Caribean wife were living in Baja California sort of detached from the mainstream it seemed . . . I was 20 years old, did not know or care about shit and I certainly cared not that a white man was married to a black woman. This was Jehovah's organization after all and racism was not even a thought.
The woman was delightful, yet reserved. She spoke a few languages, including spanish, as did Leo, and my curiousity about them living in Baja was satisfied once I understood they were perfectly at home there. Cool. We had what seemed to be a nice visit, then departed for the US that evening.
The rest of the weekend past, then it was back to work. One brother, Greg, asked me what I did over the weekend; just cordial chat amond workmates. I told him that my wife and me went downt to TJ to visit Leo and his wife. He asked, "oh, so Leo's wife is Mexican . . . ?"
Dumbass that I was, I took the bait and said, "Um no, she is from the Caribean . . . ", and left it at that.
Later that day, I was putting tools back into the shed with Leo for lockup when Greg and the son of a north county elder, Grant, stood behind me. I did not hear this, but Grant said audibly in front of Leo, "So, Leo's wife is a nigger, huh?" Again, I did not hear this . . .
The next day, while hanging some heavy-ass stone molding on the eves of the house, Leo attacked me verbally in front of the other brothers and accused me of telling everyone his wife was a nigger. I was floored. I had no idea where his assertions were coming from. He got totally evil on me and I became angry and felt like throwing him off the roof where we were working at the time. Instead, I took him off to the side and asked what the hell was going on. He told me what Grant had said the day before and I was again floored. I fervantly and pleadingly tried to explain what had really happened and he would not believe me no matter what I said. He kept telling me that I was a racist and that I had a big problem. In desperation, I pointed out the my own wife was hispanic, and therefore could not possibly be racist. I was so distressed to think that I could have offended this nice man and his wonderful wife. His response was, "she is just closer to lilly-white than my wife is . . . ". Again, I could have hurt him. I was on the verge of tears.
He finally calmed down enough to tell me that the reason he and his wife left Bethel was because the GB and many of the the other brothers at Bethel were very openly racist. He said that they openly discouraged him from marrying the woman he loved because she was black and it would cause too many problems for everyone. I could not believe him. He said they left Bethel together and moved to Baja where he became an elder in a local congregation where they were more accepted. I could, therefore, see why he was so hyper-sensative, why he had no problem believing I was a racist when Grant, the evil son of an elder, set me up to look like a racist to the man. Leo said it was pretty typical of what he and his wife had experienced while serving together in the org.
Does anyone have any similar stories or experiences about racism in the org . . . ?