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Or maybe you're just bad at making friends and project your awkward eye contact or lack of eye contact onto some elaborate racial storyline.

You're probably a little right, too. A little from column a, a little from column b.

Posted by 311_TruthMovement on March 18, 2013 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
Um, he does realize that a lot of the people he thinks are one race are multi-racial, right?

Only someone from back East would think we don't intermarry around here.
Posted by Will in Seattle on March 18, 2013 at 5:11 PM · Report this
Give him Muede's login credentials too Slog
Posted by Randy Beaver on March 18, 2013 at 5:12 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 4
portland's way less racist, and your car can probably make it there. get going!
Posted by Max Solomon on March 18, 2013 at 5:12 PM · Report this
Foghorn Leghorn 5
No, see, looking strangers in the eye is rude and creepy. There's your answer fishbulb.
Posted by Foghorn Leghorn on March 18, 2013 at 5:14 PM · Report this
Granny Smith 6
Idaho is nice this time of year, too.
Posted by Granny Smith on March 18, 2013 at 5:16 PM · Report this
Hernandez 7
That's funny, I have a guy (friend of a friend) from the Deep South living in my basement right now. He's a naturally empathic, compassionate person and he's loving it up here and is having no trouble making new friends (suck it, "Seattle Freeze"). But he also moved here very excited about the possibilities of life in a new city.

His impressions of his first weeks here are pretty much the opposite of the sentiment espoused by this Estlin Graves person. I guess the attitude you bring with you matters a lot!
Posted by Hernandez on March 18, 2013 at 5:18 PM · Report this
I think if I had a name as good as "Estlin" I'd be the sort of person who could wear a hat without looking silly.
Posted by gloomy gus on March 18, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this
Eye contact is... forgive the expression... a whole ball of wax in its own right.

If you want to talk about eye contact and the lack thereof, male/female dynamics may be at least as strong a factor as racial dynamics. As a woman, I avoid eye contact equally with all colors of the rainbow.
Posted by MLM on March 18, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
Estlin Graves is dead on of course. No one likes their self-image of cultural superiority challenged, but anyone who's traveled the country and actually got out of their comfort zone, knows Seattle has no special claim to any relative absence of racial bias. We mostly just pretend we do and think that is enough to make it so - the arrogance of cultural bigotry.
Posted by Jim Detwiler on March 18, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
@1, Archer!
Posted by California on March 18, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
Wow this guy learned a lot about the city all from not looking non-white people in the eye.
Posted by madcap on March 18, 2013 at 5:35 PM · Report this
Estlin Graves sounds like the sort of recent college graduate that takes himself way too seriously. He'll likely get over it in a few years.
Posted by crone on March 18, 2013 at 5:42 PM · Report this
ryanayr 16
Please tell me a place where there is no racism. I think what sets the south apart is their wistful embrace of racism as something natural and good for society. Yeah, we're racist. America is racist. We live in America. At least we are ashamed of it. We would rather not live in a racist place. But here we are. We are trying to get better.

also maybe people are avoiding eye contact because of your face tattoos and wide-open eyes. Eye-avoidance has many causes besides racism.
Posted by ryanayr on March 18, 2013 at 5:43 PM · Report this
yelahneb 17
So you like complaining about stuff? Perfect! You'll do fine here, don't sweat it.
Posted by yelahneb on March 18, 2013 at 5:50 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 18
White people in Seattle aren't great at eye contact, either. I know, I lived there for almost a decade.

Anyway, the west on the whole can be like this (aside from California, which is a culture unto itself). You're just thinking waaaaaay too hard about this, intellectualizing things that aren't really there into being. Hopefully you'll grow out of it.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 18, 2013 at 6:04 PM · Report this
McJulie 20
You know, there are a lot of things to be used as evidence for Seattle racism. Lack of eye contact is really not one of them.
Posted by McJulie on March 18, 2013 at 6:05 PM · Report this
So . . . if wrestling is pronounced wrasslin' in the South, does that mean Estlin is pronounced Asslin?
Posted by mint chocolate chip on March 18, 2013 at 6:11 PM · Report this
Spot on @10. I moved to the PacNW from the South a decade ago. I love it here, and plan to stay. But there is a lot of racism swept under the carpet, and allowed to linger here... and a lot of denial about the situation. To be fair, most of the racism is embedded in the older white enclaves... and in the adverse impacts of related decisions (e.g., parents foolishly chasing test scores rather than great teachers). Younger west-siders are as cool about race as people come though.
Posted by Get Real on March 18, 2013 at 6:11 PM · Report this
As a native of Massachusetts (just outside of Boston) and current resident of Baltimore, I fantasize about a place where eye contact isn't required for all social interactions, including just passing someone on the sidewalk. If one more person rudely tells me that I'm not friendly enough, I think I'm going to crack.
Posted by MRM on March 18, 2013 at 6:14 PM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 28
So..should I stare every person I see on the streets in Seattle down until they freak out so I'm not racist? That's really I took away from this article.
Posted by Last of the Time Lords on March 18, 2013 at 6:20 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 29
So is he saying that minorities don't look him in the eye because they're scared of him? Or because they're the racist ones? What bearing does eye contact have on racism?
Posted by keshmeshi on March 18, 2013 at 6:21 PM · Report this
One thing this correspondent is definitely wrong about is Seattleites being passive aggressive. The comments sure do prove him wrong on that!
Posted by mayberrymachiavelli on March 18, 2013 at 6:21 PM · Report this
@27: As much as I hate to agree with you, UBW, I gotta say that anyone who refers to a cross-country roadtrip as "study[ing] the social climate of... the USA" is completely full of shit. I've driven cross country many times. Never once was I stupid enough to think that I got anything but the most cursory glance at any of the places I stopped, even when I was there for a non-trivial amount of time.
Posted by MRM on March 18, 2013 at 6:22 PM · Report this
GeneStoner 32
Damn y'all are ig-nint.

THE most racist areas of Seattle are the Negro areas. If you spent ANY time down there, you would know this to be true. Time spent in your High School cultural studies classroom does not count BTW.

Please spare us the racial navel-gazing. It gets us nowhere.
Posted by GeneStoner on March 18, 2013 at 6:24 PM · Report this
@17 perfect
Posted by neverbeenthere on March 18, 2013 at 6:28 PM · Report this
chaseacross 34
I love all the catching on about eye contact. It's absolutely true. I was on a date once and felt compelled to say "So, you,re not from here, right." "Right," she said, "how did you know?" "Because you've been making eye contact with me since we started speaking."

(For the record, I find it charming on a date, but in every other context I find it discomfiting and aggressive.)
Posted by chaseacross on March 18, 2013 at 6:28 PM · Report this
Jessica 35
As a fourth-generation Seattlite and a white woman, I am well-versed in Seattle's favorite Stranger Danger game: "Crazy, Jesus, Money, or Sex?" I don't want to hear about Jesus, I won't give you $3, I'm not going to fuck you, and I don't care about your belief that Greg Nickels is stealing your socks.

I'll make eye contact when I fucking feel like it, not when it makes you happy.

Posted by Jessica on March 18, 2013 at 6:32 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 36
I for one prefer concealed racism to overt racism.

After living in St. Louis, it's nice to go out to bar and not hear the n-word once.
Posted by Free Lunch on March 18, 2013 at 6:32 PM · Report this
@20, How about going to a job interview wearing dark skin, a suit, a tie, no black patois and granny glasses and having the white (and in one case asian) interviewer look at you with either bug eyed shock, jawdropping shock, or anger? Or maybe having the interviewer look at you with fear in his/her eyes while interviewing you. Or the interviewer truncating the interview for no discernible reason with stern serious look on her face--no vocal faux pas or anything of a kind?

@7, Was the southerner black?

@16, It's good to know you're working on it
Posted by neo-realist on March 18, 2013 at 6:33 PM · Report this
biffp 38
It's the "Seattle Freeze." People don't make eye contact, and dread any type of confrontation. If you are honest and open, that makes them nervous. They are afraid you will expect them to be that way and/or they are afraid of making friends. In some places social awkwardness is treated, but in Seattle it is par for the course.

Oh yeah, and they whine like babies, can't make decisions and brake at green lights.
Posted by biffp on March 18, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
Estlin Graves seems to be an intelligent writer who keeps his (her) eyes open. The Stranger could use another person of that caliber.
Posted by SASS on March 18, 2013 at 6:43 PM · Report this
Fake. You don't start driving from the Deep South toward Seattle and hit New York.
Posted by sarah70 on March 18, 2013 at 6:45 PM · Report this
It doesn't take more than a non-trivial amount of time in another geographic culture for it basic differences from our's to become apparent. You don't have to conduct a comprehensive study to realize the very clear differences in things like public body language, eye contact, general friendliness or lack of it, etc. In deed it's how different these things appear with limited exposure that demonstrates how tangible that difference really is.
I frankly think a lot of folks here are offended when they're not complimented for their cultural superiority. Advice to newcomers who want to fit-in; You LOVE Seattle! Besides, if you say it enough to those you meet, it eventually becomes your reality anyway.
Posted by Jim Detwiler on March 18, 2013 at 6:46 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 43
@38 for the win.

@40 actually, you kind of do. Most people live along the coast, so it's kind of how it's done. You head up to NY and then end up heading West after you realize it's not the place to stay.
Posted by Will in Seattle on March 18, 2013 at 6:53 PM · Report this
blip 44
@32 Dude, you try waaaaaaaaay too hard. Besides, if you want to find success trolling Slog you really need to work an angle – like, Gay Republican or Transgendered Vegan. The Contrarian Frat Boy thing just isn't going to take you places. We've had a number of your type apply over the years and eventually they get bored and move on.
Posted by blip on March 18, 2013 at 7:01 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 45
Of course Seattle is racist. If we weren't racist, we'd have fixed our own racist police force, instead of needing the Feds to make us fix it with a court order.

White Seattleites care far more about the perfectly legal killing of a freaking non-endangered octopus in Elliott Bay than the beating or even death of a brown person at the hands of our cops. White people here literally will tell you to your face that they are powerless to stop our racist cops. And they want you to swallow that excuse and give them a pass. They're embarrassed to be thought of as racist, but not enough to take action.

It's because they secretly believe that what the cops in this city do to minorities is necessary.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 18, 2013 at 7:03 PM · Report this
rob! 48
@8, the "indescribable hat" cannot be mocked.
Posted by rob! on March 18, 2013 at 7:10 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 50
Estlin sounds like a lot of 21-and-younger kids-- has some brains, is desperately trying to understand his world, is suspicious of what he was taught as a kid but isn't willing (yet) to completely give up on some of his mostly deeply-held beliefs, and feels that sometime very soon, perhaps w/in the next 6-8 months, he'll have 'figured it all out.' I get the strong impression that he left on his trip w/ the idea of using his experiences to write The Great American Novel.

Mr. Graves, WADR, you've figured out nothing, and you never will. No great writer has. All they have is a unique point of view, so work on that. And, quite frankly, that needs a lot of work. Folks from the deep South wagging their fingers at Northern cities after they're shocked, shocked I say, to discover racism here as well are so numerous, you could pave I-5 w/ them. Probably have enough left over to do the floating bridges as well.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on March 18, 2013 at 7:16 PM · Report this
@45 for another win. In many cases, white seattleites will say in response to the beating of a brown skinned person that "the cops have a tough job" and "it was just an isolated incident", i.e., the brutality is ok because it helps to maintain the power relationship between the races in the city.
Posted by neo-realist on March 18, 2013 at 7:34 PM · Report this
Just Jeff 55
Estlin is right.
Posted by Just Jeff on March 18, 2013 at 7:40 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 56
In Europe, there is racism. The Romanians hate the Hungarians, the Bulgarians hate the Turks, and everyone hates the Jews and the Roma. I don't mean the word "hate" in a casual sense. I mean it in a very active sense. Volen Siderov leads a nationalist party in Bulgaria with seats in their Parliament that advocates for genocide. In Romania, the Romania Mare party does the same. Their leader, Vadim Tudor, has suggested that the solution to his country's woes is to gather up all the Roma, Jews, and gays in a stadium, and then murder them all with automatic gunfire. This rant won him a seat in his country's Parliament. Another party in that same country, Noua Dreapte, advocates the same position.

In Sudan, the Messariya Arab, Dinka, Nuer and other populations alll hate one another. there, the hate is manifested with real warfare, guns and mortar shells. In Rwanda, racism there erupted into a full blown genocide.

There is no place on Earth inhabited by humans where racism does not exist. To say that you are not racist or this or that place is not racist or that person is not racist or this group is not racist is to deny reality.

There are many things inherent to being human that one benefits from struggling against. Another human characteristic is the tendency toward violence. By resisting that urge too, we benefit. We benefit from resisting the suicidal impulse. We benefit from refusing to allow ourselves to become addicted to things. We benefit from resisting the urge toward selfishness.

Self-control is the greatest gift a person can give to oneself. By realizing that you are racist, and that by resisting that racist urge you benefit yourself as well as everyone else, you improve yourself. Your life becomes better thereby.

So, when you say, "Is Seattle racist" I say, of course it is! But we are beautiful because here we see that racism, and we grapple with it, and we wrestle it to submission, rather than letting it control our minds. Are we always successful? No. But like Cool Hand Luke, no matter how many times we are knocked down, we get back up again and we fight.

That's the Seattle I love. Its the city that refuses to capitulate to its more destructive instincts.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on March 18, 2013 at 7:48 PM · Report this
We can learn a lot from looking people in the eye. Just ask George Bush.
Posted by Joel_are on March 18, 2013 at 7:54 PM · Report this
Estin, as you can see, this gaggle of comments from defensive Seattle idiots who wish to embrace their vapid lives only serves as support for your evaluation. It's why I don't reside there. I encourage you to move to Bellingham. More folk will appreciate your insight and I think you'll find a healthier, diverse culture to blossom in. Sorry Seattle. but but your coffee fetish is making your progressive wheels spin.
Posted by SASS on March 18, 2013 at 7:55 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 59
Wow, there are a lot of really defensive response posts in this thread. Almost zero"that's an intersesting perspective." If you're feeling that uncomfortable folks, it's probably because the shoe pinches.
Posted by thatsnotright on March 18, 2013 at 8:15 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 60
as a white guy who loves seattle and grew up near (and likes) milwaukee, I've now been informed that YES, I am a fucking honky racist.

Yay, me!
Posted by wilbur@work on March 18, 2013 at 8:17 PM · Report this
Yes, Estlin, that African-American woman on the bus didn't just fail to notice you. She was not preoccupied with her own life and thoughts in the way people of all colors on the bus are. No, Estlin, the truth is obviously that in Seattle uniformly live their days with a special contempt for white people that is somehow found _nowhere_ else in America and grounded entirely in a deeper understanding of the shallowness of Seattle's white population. And you, Estlin - somehow only _you_ had the unique insight to discover and fully appreciate that contempt.

Estlin, you're kind of a pompous ass.
Posted by Morosoph on March 18, 2013 at 8:18 PM · Report this
@59, that kind of psychpop went out a long time ago. The posts were offensive, rather than defensive, and saying something's wrong doesn't automatically mean you in your heart know it's right.
Posted by sarah70 on March 18, 2013 at 8:24 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 64
YEAH all you White "holier than thou" racists in Seattle make me sick. Nasty ass bunch that you are. ALL of you. Every single last one of you is a racist. Estlin Graves says so. Stop denying it. When did you stop beating your wife?
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on March 18, 2013 at 8:26 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 65
@ 56, I wish I lived in that Seattle when I lived in Seattle. (It isn't as sweaty as Cool Hand Luke, is it?)
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 18, 2013 at 8:28 PM · Report this
I think I saw this guy. He was on the bus dressed like a hillbilly screaming:

"Look at me! LOOK AT ME, GALL DURN YOU! Into my eyes. MY EYES!... wha? Why won't you look into my eyes, you... you racists!"

And then broke out singing Camptown Races. Yes. I thought it was odd, too.
Posted by tkc on March 18, 2013 at 8:36 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 67
@58: b-ham, a town which is 99.99% white, is less racist than an actual city with the most diverse zip code in america? perhaps because b-ham doesn't have any diverse races trying to deal with each other.

Posted by Max Solomon on March 18, 2013 at 8:40 PM · Report this
I drove through Tennessee once and couldn't understand anything anybody said to me. So I made sure to avoid all eye contact.
Posted by Jnu on March 18, 2013 at 8:41 PM · Report this

You nailed Seattle. Nice!


Yeah, on an *anonymous* message board they're direct. To your face, they're totally phony and insincere. This behavior is what they equate with "politeness" and they think it's how all decent people should behave.
Posted by Confluence on March 18, 2013 at 8:56 PM · Report this
the duster 71
Not sure what part of the Deep South this person hails from, but I just moved from Seattle to the Mississippi Delta this past year.

And the winner for racism is.....The Delta! That doesn't mean Seattle is a utopian society, but man, it's hard to out-racist Mississippi.

I could provide reasoning that uses beautiful verbiage and thought provoking analysis, but it's all deadwood--as is this post.
Posted by the duster on March 18, 2013 at 8:59 PM · Report this
I live in the CD and I make eye contact with people of color every day. We even take turns speaking with each other! It’s true! I will say, “Hello,” the person of color will respond in kind, and then we go about our lives. In fact, the only times I find myself surrounded by white folks is when I vicariously through other white folk such as Estlin who paint with such broad strokes as to completely whitewash a city full of people from every race, color, and creed.
Posted by riot gorl on March 18, 2013 at 9:32 PM · Report this
@67; apparently a republican, since facts don't matter and you can say whatever in a Palinesque sort of way. Anyway, I was referring to a more diverse state of mind. Don't ever change Seattle, just keep on being whatever it is you cherish so much. Nearly utopia, I'm sure.
Posted by SASS on March 18, 2013 at 9:45 PM · Report this
@67, Bellingham's a great town. Western is a great school, with an incredibly progressive atmosphere. But you don't have too step too far away from campus before finding a bunch of dumb racist hillbillies. It's not as bad as rural whatcom county, but there are still plenty in town.
Posted by GermanSausage on March 18, 2013 at 9:48 PM · Report this
smade 78
How else can you tell if your Southern Baptist neighbors are drinking on the sly if they don't look you square in the eye? Shaming is a lot harder if everyone isn't looking over everyone else's shoulder and keeping careful notes of what they see.
Posted by smade on March 18, 2013 at 9:53 PM · Report this
I will not make any assumptions about this person, but I moved here from NYC in '95, had no problems with 'eye contact', found people less concerned about other peoples heritage, and I had no illusions that racism would not exist here. (Of course it does because it is everywhere.)

And when I drove west I managed to avoid the Deep South, but I suppose all roads lead to New York.
Posted by dbgill56 on March 18, 2013 at 9:57 PM · Report this
Michael of the Green 80
It's an important characteristic of Seattleites to hate Seattle. It comprises the bulk of any cocktail conversation here. You'll do fine.
Posted by Michael of the Green on March 18, 2013 at 10:06 PM · Report this
@80: Surely you mean transplanted Seattleites? As a born and bred Seattleite (who has both lived and visited other places), I love Seattle. In all its passive-aggressive, freezy, racism-denying glory.

I nearly died of carbon monoxide politesse at a four-way stop this evening, but I'm not complaining.
Posted by MLM on March 18, 2013 at 10:22 PM · Report this
T 83
@38 is dead on. People here are negative, sarcastic, and bitchy to no end. They will complain about anything given the chance - their job, the weather, their commute, their ever-aging techy gadgets that are usually less than 2 years old. I always thought the Seattle Freeze was a myth, an urban legend. It wasn't until my partner moved here from the midwest that I realized it's the unspoken law of the land. Which isn't to say I'm totally innocent. I've kept people at arm's length with jokes and ignored texts from would-be friends. But now that I know how fucked this place is, I want to be better. I've built a strong circle of friends over the last two years since realizing how shitty Seattle people are to each other (let alone outsiders). Most of those friends are not Seattle natives, and I've never been happier to live here.

Shape the fuck up, Seattle. Look your neighbor in the eye. Say hi to your coworkers. Don't be afraid, we don't bite.
Posted by T on March 18, 2013 at 10:31 PM · Report this
I Fucked Your Dad 84
He's from the Deep South and drove to Seattle via NYC. Sounds like a crappy driver.
Posted by I Fucked Your Dad on March 18, 2013 at 10:49 PM · Report this
Michael of the Green 85
@82 haha, carbon monoxide politesse... I'm using that!
Posted by Michael of the Green on March 18, 2013 at 10:52 PM · Report this
Cap'n Tapahoe 86
Christ you all have no idea what you are talking about. Seattle is racist? I moved here from Spokane, where as a child people would lean out of their car and call me the n-word, and I'm not even black. People would call me a beaner and spic in high school, and then stare blankly at me when I explained that I'm not even hispanic.

Yes, Seattle is racist. This whole fucking planet is racist. In case you haven't noticed, Caucasian people are still hoovering up most of the world's resources. People in China are still climbing over the suicide fence to end it so they wont have to make Ipads for middle class white kids anymore. But let's be real here: Seattle is a HELL of a lot less racist than Washington's second largest city, 300 miles to the east. And let's talk about Northern Idaho, where I spent a year as a brown 8 year old kid in Hayden Lake. Do not EVER talk to me about how racist Seattle is. Trust me.

Once you accept that racism is pretty much a universal human trait, you need to evaluate racism based on degrees. And no, being passive aggressive does not equal being racist. And Seattle, as far as my experience tells me, isn't that racist at all. Once you cross the I-90 bridge over Lake Washington bridge, you can watch that racism meter start to climb steadily.
Posted by Cap'n Tapahoe on March 18, 2013 at 10:58 PM · Report this
the idiot formerly known as kk 87
What @71 said.
"The west coast is no less racist than the rural parts of the Carolinas."
That's just stupid bullshit. Yes, it's racist in the West. No, we are not as racist as the rural parts of the Carolinas.
"Eye contact between myself and a nonwhite individual seldom, if ever, even occurs."
It's a city, not some hick town. We're busy. If you want to make eye contact with nonwhite individuals, then make friends with us, don't expect us to give you the time of day just because you've got some goofy-ass grin on your white face.
"Is America, even in its most progressive parts, rife with ignorance and separatism?"
At least in Seattle, they teach social studies in the schools. What kind of dumbass question is that?
"If I'd been the lowest common socioeconomic denominator through no fault of my own, I'd be a bit spiteful toward lily-skinned pussies who, despite sitting pretty atop nearly every undeserved boon, still find something to complain about."
Guess what, Estlin. We people of color don't think about you much and really don't give a shit about you. Shocked? We don't CARE if you're privileged. Sure, it would be great if you didn't own everything and fuck us over. But life is pretty damned good for us. We have our families, our churches, our friends and neighbors, our homes, our work. Yes, like anyone, we have our troubles, but we don't sit around pissing and moaning because some moron thinks that racism will magically disappear if only he smokes enough pot and stares at his navel long enough. So no, Estlin, we are not in a "state of almost constant anger; anger which might boil, in time, into resentment, then hatred, and, finally, disillusionment." We have not given up on the American Dream. We realize--obviously--that we have to work twice as hard as white folks to attain it, but we sure as fuck don't need your condescending pity.
Posted by the idiot formerly known as kk on March 18, 2013 at 11:00 PM · Report this
I Fucked Your Dad 88
@58 - Are you on crack? What diverse culture? I moved to Bellingham from Selma, AL and couldn't believe how few black people there were in Bellingham. I'd never seen so much white in all my life.
Posted by I Fucked Your Dad on March 18, 2013 at 11:00 PM · Report this
Along with Pittsburgh, Seattle is the nicest place I've ever lived in America. People actually don't cross against the light here. They have a naive, idealistic belief in democracy and fairness. They don't conclude a priori that everyone else is cheating and breaking the rules. We haven't become cynically jaded, is what I'm trying to say, and that's something that I find precious. There truly is - I believe - a small-town sense of community. Neighbors in apartment buildings will help each other out. Drop four inches of snow and it's an instant block party. (And that's all it takes to shut down this city.) The idea of volunteer community service is strong here. I've never had a hard time starting up engrossing conversations about anything with total strangers in this city, and in King County in general. That's something very special. And I know it's not just me, because people who visit me from the East Coast, where I'm from, tell me the same thing. Seattle really, truly is nice - We're a little shy! We're not flamboyantly extroverted. Maybe that's what this Southerner is referring to (Southerners are warmly extroverted, right?) - but we are generally sweet at heart.

And if you're a young gay or lesbian or transgender/sexual/ whatever (sorry, I'm still confused about those terms), it's hard to move to a better place than Seattle. Did I tell you that you can get married to someone of the same gender as you in Washington State? Can't say that about most of the country. And the biggest reason for that is King County. We carried that baby over the top.

I actually haven't seen that much racism here, on a personal level (you can certainly read about it in the papers), and this actually a fairly diverse place. There's a ton of Central Americans here and Eastern Asians, a lot of Africans, specially Eastern Africans, and a ton of Eastern Asians. I've worked with all of them at various jobs and we always got along fine. You have to experience overt racism to get some perspective and I have. If you want to see what actual racism looks like, just take a drive over the mountains to Palin's Real America and hang out with some Tea Party rednecks. You'll also get a sense of what cynical and nasty looks like. You'll come running back to Seattle.
Posted by floater on March 18, 2013 at 11:04 PM · Report this
Cap'n Tapahoe 91
@87 You are amazing. There are mountains of whatever genitals you prefer waiting for you in your afterlife.
Posted by Cap'n Tapahoe on March 18, 2013 at 11:12 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 93
I love it when people move to Seattle and start bitchin' about it not being all that and how it holds itself in higher regard than what's justified. And how it is no better than where one if from...and yet you still come and stay and bitch instead of heading back home.
Posted by Bauhaus I on March 19, 2013 at 12:58 AM · Report this
cracked 94
@38 for the win.

Eye contact? Sheesh. I tell my son: "Hey, you ain't seen racism til you get to the South, but,by golly, you have a good chance there of getting invited to a lot of peoples homes within hours of arriving and making lots of friends very quickly," something on the rarer side here. I'm from Northern California and the "freeze" is not as bad as here, but honestly, that Southern kind of friendliness makes me a little nervous even though it can grow on you after a while. Culturally, when I was young I used to think New Yorkers were assholes who literally wanted to provoke me to insult and perhaps physically attack them, but I discovered I was wildly misinterpreting their intent and opinions of me.

Seattle is way more racist than it thinks it is, and that can be irritating, but it ain't the South. Face it King County voted 69 to 28 for Obama, with Seattle supporting Obama even more strongly I'm sure. The size of the Romney votes by Whites in the South shows a dramatic racial bias.

for 2013:
"90 per cent of white voters in Mississippi supported Romney.... Obama won about 49 percent of the white vote outside the South and 27 percent of the white vote in the South. "

"Southern whites did vote for Romney at about the same rate (around 70%) that Hispanics and Asians voted for Obama. Non-Southern whites were almost evenly split between Romney (51%) and Obama (49%)."
Posted by cracked on March 19, 2013 at 1:54 AM · Report this
sheiler 95
I lived in Oklahoma for a time, which is not the deep south, but it certainly isn't the midWest either. I was called Yankee in so many different ways - hostile, offhand, slightly leery, questioning, sometimes friendly - but it was ALWAYS there. My not having any drawl was a source of constant comment. And I found the eye contact, the endless cups of nicely brewed iced tea, as part of the southern charm strategy that backfires after a Yankee overstays her welcome in that part of the world.

Which is no comment on the racism aspect of Estlin's note. I think all white people are racists - just some of us try to do something about it with varying degrees of failure.
Posted by sheiler on March 19, 2013 at 2:29 AM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 97

That's true the world over. Given the human tendency toward tribalism, I wonder how it is that our species has survived as long as it has. We've certainly had many close shaves.

As late as 1995, we almost blew the planet to bits.…

And today, when I look at a map, I see so many places where the distance between where we stand and the brink is so small. India-Pakistan, North Korea-Japan-China-Philippines Israel-Palestine-Egypt, Somalia, Sudan-South Sudan-Darfur-Uganda-Congo, Chechnya-Russia-Georgia-Azerbaijan-Moldova.... how is it that we're still here? And how much longer can we hold on?

Racism, homophobia, misogyny, religious intolerance, all these tribalisms hold our species hostage.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on March 19, 2013 at 4:19 AM · Report this
"He's from the Deep South and drove to Seattle via NYC. Sounds like a crappy driver."

At least he found the city where that attribute will fit right in.
Posted by Jim Detwiler on March 19, 2013 at 5:26 AM · Report this
Is this Mr. (or Ms.?) Graves related to the Stranger's own Jen Graves? They both seem unnaturally obsessed with wallowing in the guilt they feel for being born with white skin. Maybe it's a mental illness that runs in the Graves family. At any rate, fuck 'em both.
Posted by catsnbanjos on March 19, 2013 at 6:07 AM · Report this
smade 101
@88 It's true. There were damned few slave ships that pulled into western Washington ports in the 1700s to do business at the auctions in Bellingham. Three cheers for Alabamian diversity.
Posted by smade on March 19, 2013 at 6:28 AM · Report this
Someone else from Baltimore reads Slog? Wonders never cease.
Posted by josher71 on March 19, 2013 at 6:46 AM · Report this
mkyorai 103
@ 102 several others. I spend 4 years on the west coast, and still miss it often in its passive aggressive, Seattle-freeze glory, but now I live in Baltimore, in the rapidly gentrifying Canton neighborhood.

@87 Nicely put.
Posted by mkyorai on March 19, 2013 at 7:37 AM · Report this
My, the truth hurts doesn't it Seattle?
Posted by tacomagirl on March 19, 2013 at 7:48 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 105
@22, @35 ROFLMAO!

Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on March 19, 2013 at 8:26 AM · Report this
What is a "Seattle Freeze" and why do foreigners to the city complain about it? Do they understand that the other folks within the city are not here to entertain them, and that they'd have a better chance at making friends by *gasp* interacting with them?
Posted by treehugger on March 19, 2013 at 8:51 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 110
@ 107, how does such "interaction" begin, if not with eye contact? Do you want strangers to grab you from behind?
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 19, 2013 at 8:57 AM · Report this
the duster 111
@89 It's the northwest region of MS:…

There is a majority black population, but the most of wealth and business is owned by, go figure, the white minority.

Posted by the duster on March 19, 2013 at 9:22 AM · Report this
People here are negative, sarcastic, and bitchy to no end. They will complain about anything given the chance - their job, the weather, their commute, their ever-aging techy gadgets that are usually less than 2 years old.

Except when they're not. Then they're being passive aggressive.
Posted by butterw on March 19, 2013 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Whatever. Seattle is not the South or New York, so people who come here from the South or New York, who find out that this place doesn't match their expectations, and who are predisposed to hate the socially progressive strain in our culture, will rebrand those failed expectations, those differences, as faults.

And Seattle, with its devoted commitment to fairness and consideration of other perspectives, will too easily accept that narrative - we're cold, passive aggressive, or whatever. Go back and read the posts by the haters and tell me who's negative, cold, angry, and passive aggressive. A lot of the time, those pointing the finger are the ones guilty of the criticism. All that outward sociability masks a sharply critical perspective. They're haters, in other words, and you don't need more haters in your life.

So ignore them, Seattle. Hopefully they'll even go back to that fantasy place outside of King County where everyone is not as damaged, cold, frozen, passive aggressive, etc., as they are here. (But of course, we're so horrible and racist here that people keep moving in. If only we were like Eastern Washington, Mississippi, or Oklahoma.)
Posted by floater on March 19, 2013 at 10:29 AM · Report this
mkyorai 115
@106 what faux white guilt? The writer isn't white, moron.
Posted by mkyorai on March 19, 2013 at 10:55 AM · Report this
lilmonster206 116
Amen, sister. You are spot on.
Posted by lilmonster206 on March 19, 2013 at 10:58 AM · Report this
longball 119
I love these anecdotally supported "racist seattle" theories, especially when they come from the "Deep South". Here's the deal... people in the deep south, no matter their feelings on race, find comfort in the stark contrasts and well defined boundaries between the races. They come to Seattle and assume that all the same racism is here, but since they don't see the divsions so clearly makred out for them it makes them uneasy and they just conclude that all our racism is hidden and sneaky. Their overt racism, while racist, is more honorable, more honest racism! WAY TO GO DEEP SOUTH.

Of course the truth is that in Seattle, unlike the deep south, racism is culturally unacceptable and this means that those harboring racist ideology are a small minority and largely kept quiet and when they are exposed they are shunned. We don't tolerate that shit. Its how it SHOULD be.

If Frat boys are the lowest common denominator in the South and Seattle, how about this:
When Obama was reelected the frat boys at Ole Miss rioted. the frat boys at UW didn't. It wasn't because they were "better at pretending not to be racist". Its because they are WAY THE HELL LESS RACIST.

This discussion gets dumber every time we have it.
Posted by longball on March 19, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
@114, As a New Yorker, I don't think you guys are socially progressive enough----King County missed the subway boat by not voting for Forward Thrust back in the day when the feds were generous with public transportation funding; courageous cops busting pidily jaywalkers, no avant-garde jazz to be found--I guess its too noisy for the hipper than thou local indie pop fans; and courageous cops jacking dangerous jaywalkers and profiling blacks, which while they do it in NYC, they've proactively investigated those cops without Seattle's denial of racism in the force.

At least you guys have a bit of a music scene, major league baseball and cheaper rents than NYC and SF.

As the Ramones said "Gabba Gabba we accept you".

Posted by neo-realist on March 19, 2013 at 12:03 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 121
@63, still not a lot of willingness to harbor the thought that someone on the outside sees things differently. People do get defensive and hostile all the time, it doesn't have anything to do woth a particular decade. Are there no defensive people now?
Posted by thatsnotright on March 19, 2013 at 12:08 PM · Report this
Soupytwist 123
I've yet to meet anyone not from Seattle who didn't move to Seattle and then go on psychotropic medications.

It's just an anecdote, but one that I've found interesting.

On the other hand, I moved to SoCal and eventually went on anti-depressants. I feel much better about living in this shithole and I'm on a five year plan to get back to my beloved Seattle. I would much rather not have any interactions than the constant disingenuous bullshit that I go through down here.
Posted by Soupytwist on March 19, 2013 at 12:55 PM · Report this
deadrose 124
Well bless your heart, author.

I would much rather live up here and have a few honest friends than live in the South and have everyone acting like my best friend to my face. We don't feel the need for all that kissy-kiss, back-slapping, up in your face & your business, gossipy style. Granted, I miss the food, but Catfish Corner helps.

Relax, have some coffee, and quit trying to force the issue.
Posted by deadrose on March 19, 2013 at 1:29 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 127
Dude says Seattle is racist because black people aren't friendly enough to him?

Is that really what we're discussing here?

Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 19, 2013 at 4:07 PM · Report this
biffp 128
@113, they'll complain about all that stuff, but they won't complain about you to your face. Instead, they quietly judge, which is passive aggressive. People in New York complain, but it's funny and it's direct.

We can all smile, make eye contact and be a little more open and less judgy. More drinking and sex would also help the collective mindset. Less Whining, More Barking.
Posted by biffp on March 19, 2013 at 4:18 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 129
@123- I was on Prozac before I came to Seattle and I've quit since then.

(Though to be honest I did have to up my dosage for a bit, but then I terminated the relationship I was in and started exercising more. I'm feeling much better now.)
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 19, 2013 at 4:19 PM · Report this
mtnlion 132
Maybe it's just my native northwesterness, but I just don't really enjoy being around people. It's not passive aggressive, it's an honest-to-God preference to just stay in my own house with the people I love and read and internet and be quiet. It's nothing personal or race-related; I dislike being around all people equally. It's just introversion. Maybe that's what the "Seattle freeze" is all about.

And, oddly enough, race doesn't even cross my mind until someone brings up How Totally Racist Everyone Is, which is almost every day, especially on the Stranger. At work, sometimes I refer to people as "the black patient in room 9," but I do it because it's an easy way to identify someone, not to insinuate anything about their character. Likewise, patients often refer to their nurses as "the Asian lady," or whatever. If that's racism, I guess we're all fucked.

Posted by mtnlion on March 19, 2013 at 4:56 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 134
"Don't all these passive-aggressive West Coast pricks drive you mad?"

Coming from the east coast, the most passive-aggressive people seem to be imports.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 19, 2013 at 10:02 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 135
@127: They should be more gracious/grateful, obviously.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 19, 2013 at 10:03 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 137
@136- Strangers in Seattle are so much more likely to talk to you than in New York.

You're so gods damn ignorant.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 20, 2013 at 11:59 AM · Report this
judgmentalist 138
@136... you are seriously delusional. Maybe a brainwashing would be good for you?

When you're forced to be elbow to elbow commuting with strangers on a daily basis, you have to have some degree of civility and frequently experience really wonderful unexpected moments with people you don't know. When you're in a less dense place and do more commuting by car, it seems to make people a little less likely to speak even when they are forced into contact with each other.
Posted by judgmentalist on March 20, 2013 at 5:54 PM · Report this
judgmentalist 139
Mr. Graves, I think you're great.
Posted by judgmentalist on March 20, 2013 at 6:07 PM · Report this
judgmentalist 140
OOPS: 136 -- I totally misread your comment. Sorry! My rage and disbelief should be directed at @137 instead.
Posted by judgmentalist on March 20, 2013 at 6:31 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 141
@140- I'm from New York, asshole. You rage and disbelief should crawl up your ass, die, rot, and kill you with their effluvia.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 20, 2013 at 7:20 PM · Report this
judgmentalist 143
@141: "Rage" and might have been poor word choices and I apologize for that. It sounds from your comments that Seattle is a much better fit for you than NYC -- I'm assuming you mean NYC and not upstate New York or Long Island, in which case I'd agree people are slightly more likely to talk to strangers in Seattle than either of those two places -- I left NYC for Seattle because spaces were too small, people were too intense, and there wasn't enough nature. I spent the first two years In the NW feeling isolated and only really broke through in my third year when I made some amazing friends who I still cherish, many of whom were transplants like myself, although I also met some wonderful locals.

Five years later I returned because I missed the frankness, diversity*, cuisine, but most of all the sense of community. I miss my friends in Seattle, and the hiking, but little else. @141: It sounds like you're in the right city for you. I don't know if you're originally from the NE but most of us I've spoken with have had a similar experience to myself. They make peace with it and stay, or resist it and go, but few people have ever described Seattle as outgoing and friendly. I am happy to be back where old ladies pinch me on the subway and tell me receipts are falling out of my bag, I get complimented on my sneakers at the gym, and roughhousing tween girls tell me *I* should say "excuse me" after knocking my phone out of my hands at a bus stop. This may have not been your experience, but it is mine, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

* Blah, blah, blah, "most diverse area code in the US." But honestly, outside of a few select neighborhoods, Seattle is generally really, really white. It doesn't make the town racist, just un/intentionally segregated.
Posted by judgmentalist on March 21, 2013 at 5:22 AM · Report this
Geni 146
@132 - word. I'm not comfortable with any form of forced social interaction, and trying to make eye contact with me is just going to freak me out. I'm Asperger's, I can barely make eye contact with people I have intimate relationships with. I would be utterly miserable in a social climate where I was expected to make chit-chat - I've never learned how - or where people felt free to drop by my house uninvited (I don't care if it's a neighbor with a pie, I don't like surprise visits, ever. Maybe from Publisher's Clearing House.). I recognize that not everyone has these antisocial tendencies. There are other cities where most people are not like me. I'm happier here, where the percentage of unsocial freaks is higher.
Posted by Geni on March 21, 2013 at 3:05 PM · Report this
McJulie 148
"We can all smile, make eye contact"

You don't get it. We don't want to smile and make eye contact. We are introverts. Seattle is an introverted city. Not chilly, not hostile, not (necessarily) passive-aggressive, not more racist than other places. Introverted. It's not that hard to figure out.
Posted by McJulie on March 21, 2013 at 6:34 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 149
@142- No.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 22, 2013 at 1:37 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 150
@143- You've experienced a completely opposite world than I have. Stop posting from Bizzaro land. (I'm from Upstate, BTW. "Stay the hell off my land." territory.)
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 22, 2013 at 1:48 PM · Report this
*Yawn* Another three-digit long circle jerk comprised mostly of people not from Seattle complaining about a bunch of other people, also mostly not from Seattle, who, strangely, treat them just like they were treated in the shit-hole small towns they all couldn't wait to get out of because nobody liked them much there, either.

Yep, never seen THAT before...ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Posted by COMTE on March 22, 2013 at 6:27 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 152
True dat, @151.
Posted by Will in Seattle on March 23, 2013 at 12:08 PM · Report this
153 did you end up in New York en route to Seattle if you were driving here from the "deep South" [which shouldn't be capitalized like that, by the way]? That adda up to an extra 1000 miles of driving onto your trip. Unless the point was to waste gas, time and money driving to your new home, I'm not sure what was accomplished. Since your fancy liberal arts university degree didn't cover basic geometry, let me give you a little tip:

when trying to get from point A to point B, don't travel in a right angle. It's faster and more efficient to go diagonally [the hypotenuse]. I just saved you days of travel time and tons of gas money for when you leave. You're welcome.

Also, there are MANY things about Seattle that suck ass. And somehow you failed to get any of them right you idiot.
Posted by twiggn on March 23, 2013 at 4:04 PM · Report this
Fickin autocorrect
Posted by twiggn on March 23, 2013 at 4:21 PM · Report this

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