I don’t even know how to begin here, except to say that today I read a Facebook post by a friend that has had me extremely upset.
I work with a man who’s been a friend of mine for more than five years. I’m a middle-aged white woman, and he’s a black man in his twenties, but I’ve met some of his family, he’s hung out in my home, we’ve shared confidences. It’s the kind of closeness that often comes when people work together every day: you gravitate toward who you like.
I got up this morning and turned on my computer, only to find this post from him:
“So, while I was at work, an irate customer who I had not even spoken to compared me to a monkey today.”
I can’t get this out of my mind. I cannot imagine how long it will stay with him: forever, I would guess. I am a homosexual, and an activist, so I know a good bit about prejudice and fear. But nothing like this.
I keep thinking of what I would have done had I been there. This is what I hope: that I would run, race to get a manager who would say to this customer, “You cannot treat people like that in this store. Get out and never, ever set foot in here again.” I know several of our managers would say that — what I hope is that I would have been swift enough and righteous enough to have stepped in and done my part. That I wouldn’t be fearful and delay until it was too late. I wasn’t there, so now all I can do is repeat this sickening story here, in hopes that it gives us all a running start when something like this happens the next time. Because it will, and it does, every day.
Let’s remember, this incident didn’t happen in a drunken brawl at a bar, but in a nice store in an affluent neighborhood in Manhattan. Hate and prejudice live everywhere.
I’ve stopped and started this post several times today in tears, and as many times as I rewrite it, it’s not powerful enough.
There is an ad campaign in New York City right now in the wake of recent anti-gay violence, but it also stresses that diversity of all kinds is our greatest strength. It has the best advice I could offer today:
Love love. Hate hate.