I’m in the grocery store,
The same one I have been in a hundred times.
It’s dinner time, so the store is buzzing with shoppers just like me,
Trying to get in and out with their purchases and hurry home to fix dinner.
The cashier is friendly.
She is round and pale, with dark brown hair and red dots sprinkling her chubby cheeks.
She is a little chatty,
No big deal.
She talked about her husband, and how they had come across hard times recently.
She talked about how they had applied for foodstamps but she wasn’t sure if they would qualify or not.
“Not to be a racist or nothing but it seems like if you aren’t black you can’t get any help around here! They just eat up all the benefits and the rest of us are screwed.”
I’m not sure what my exact facial expression was, although I’m positive it was one of disgust.
She immediately became flustered, “Oh I’m sorry I didn’t mean to offend you or nothing, I’m just saying…”
I stopped listening.
My mind spun wildly with thoughts of anger and frustration.
“Have a good day.” I muttered without making eye contact.
As I left the store, all I could do was think how offended I was at her remark.
It wasn’t that the comment was so obscene, I have heard much worse I assure you;
It was the way that she assumed so much about me, and my beliefs based on my looks.
How dare she assume that simply because she and I are both white women that I too harbor racist resentments towards minorities.
She sticks me into a stereotype,
Just like every other person in her mind, I can be categorized by my face.
She figured she knew me, who I was and how I thought, she assumed I was just like her.
And I wonder, how many others have the same mindset she does.
Too many, I’m sure.
She didn’t know that my husband is black.
She didn’t know I have three biracial little ones.
She didn’t know any of that, but simply assumed that wouldn’t be the case.
Maybe it was the way she was raised, that engrained into her mind such bitterness.
I will never know, nor do I really care to.
It doesn’t really matter why, because there is no excuse.
You cannot choose the color God made you, the hues of your skin tone,
So how can you judge another person for something that only God can determine?
I cannot pretend to understand the injustice and persecution that minorities feel every day,
After all, I am white.
But I know the looks of disapproval all too well,
The whispers and glares from the corners of peoples eyes.
I know the disdain people ooze.
It’s an attitude you did nothing to deserve and can really do nothing to change.
The only way to change people’s mindsets is to prove them wrong.
And time after time, we try to do just that.
But people always think they are right,
Even when the ways they are wrong are countless.
There are probably fifty other people she checked out just today,
That she could have made that comment to and would have chuckled and agreed with her whole heartedly,
And that sickens me.
We all have such a long way to go,
So many more battles to be fought before we can truly say we have won against people and their hate disguised so efficiently as stereotypes.
Will it ever happen?
It seems with every generation there is a race, a religion or ethnicity that is singled out and persecuted.
People feel they must prey on the weak, on the different.
We hate change,
We hate things we don’t understand.
We hate things that are not like us.
I pray that my children will know a day when they are not looked at as different,
A day where we see people before we see color.
A day where, just like style and art and every other aspect of our lives, color is simply a part of who we are that makes us special, but does not define us in any way.
We are each unique.
We are each designed for a purpose.
There is not now, nor will their ever be again, a human just like you or me.
So don’t categorize me.
You don’t define me.
Only God defines me.
I won’t let you label me,
I won’t let your labels influence me.
There is so much beneath the surface of a man and a woman,
Than you will never know by just a glance,
By just a single conversation.
There is so much more,
Than just color.