Disclaimer: I admit that I've expressed some pretty graphic opinions about my race (and eventually some others, and then anything that was human), and, in jovial moments, have said some light-hearted racist jokes amongst friends. But, I don't (consciously) possess any kind of stereotypes or narrow-minded views toward any race at all. The people I speak of in these posts seriously hold these convictions.
First, let me show some aspects about her.
[Laura] was a mannerful, genial 27-year-old receptionist hired by the secretary of the president of our store. A receptionist, of course, sits and directs customer calls to the correct departments (linens, furniture, etc.). She had come from Honduras a little more than a couple of years prior to getting this job, and her English communication skills were still very basic. So, she often forwarded calls to me, who worked in bed linens, from customers who were asking for a salesperson in the carpet department. This still happened a handful of times after I told her where I worked, but she eventually got better at things.
[Laura] was also a devout Christian. Now, there are many kinds of Christians and I don't know which kind she belonged to, if she belonged to any one or some at all, but she has expressed some of her religious views to me.
Many times during our lunch hour, she's expressed, through frenetic Spanish, occasional English and gesticulations, stories of people she's seen get possessed by the Devil and exorcised by a priestly figure of some sort. I told her once that I listen to heavy metal, and she told me that it was bad for me in all sorts of ways, and then asked me with a scowling face if I listen to Ozzy Osbourne (which I don't). Finally, she once pointed at one of the antique paintings the store sells and told me that it creeped her out because it was either painted by devil worshippers or was a picture of devil worshippers. I forget which one. What I didn't forget was that it was simply a painting of two Asian men in Old Century wardrobe, sitting and having tea. These strike me as stemming from
At any rate, one day, we (me, a friend Gwendy, [Laura] and another friend) all sat in an office, socializing after lunch. Laura then asked Gwendy, in Spanish, if I was African or American, which in itself was a bit offensive since I was sitting right next to her and she could've just asked me. Gwendy told her I was American, but I butted in and explained to her that I'm not from Africa, but do have ancestors from different parts of the continent. Because of this, she then asked me if I had diamonds.
As we all went back to work, I, at first, laughed it off after telling her no with a bit of an offended face and said to myself that she simply didn't know better. But it occurred to me that if she said this sort of thing to someone else, they may act out in anger or even violence towards her. So, I went over to her at the receptionist desk and tried to explain me having African ancestors does not mean I bring diamonds from Africa, but gestures and 2nd grade English could not convey the message properly to her. Additionally, every time I pointed to the back of my hand to indicate my skin color while talking to her, she would nod her head yes and say "I like diamonds". So I had to search for Wendy to translate.
I went into Wendy's office, went on the selling floor (the back and front of it), but could not find her. Meanwhile, every time I passed by the desk, [Laura] would repeat "I like diamonds" and smile. So, finally, out of frustration, I said to her "Dios sabe tu mala!" which was the incorrect version of "God thinks you're bad!" I'm sure He really didn't, but it was the only way to communicate to her that she did something wrong. Eventually, I found Wendy and got her to explain in Spanish the meaning of what she said and why I said the God comment. The matter was resolved, with her conclusively saying "No, no, I love black people!".
I wasn't sure at the time whether I should be offended or not. She did stereotype me, but the stereotype seemed to be borne of ignorance. Is it her fault her mind is narrow? Sometimes, that is a self-awareness that only someone else can apply. Perhaps this situation can be a seedling which will spread into other perspectives she possesses.