Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Racism in the 'burbs

To the ladies (and I use the term loosely) at the class in the public store this morning:

Your racism was showing, load and clear. It was extremely upsetting to listen to. "Missing clothing ends up on the Boston Bus"...why did you have to keep repeating that? Are you that proud of your racism?

If your little girl brought her American Girl doll to kindergarten and she couldn't find it, how do you know it was in the backpack of the CA Metco equivalent? Did the teacher let you look? Did the teacher tell you? Or did you just assume "it was in the little black girl's backpack", while the teacher figured out which child had the doll and got it back to your daughter? It might have been in any child's backpack, and the teacher is unlikely to have told you which child.

And to the woman whose son lost his brand new black Northface jacket. How do you know it "went on the Boston bus"? How do you know, really, that he was correct with the statement that the last time he had it was on the playground. Maybe it ended up in lost and found, and that afternoon Jacob's mom found it, thinking it was Jacob's brand new black Northface jacket, lost yesterday. Only Jacob's jacket is on the floor under Anthony's bed...where Anthony announced to his mom his missing blue jacket turned black! Only Anthony's missing jacket is at grandma's summer house, left there at Thanksgiving....not to be found until next summer. The statement "Our kids don't need clothes. The only ones who would need to steal clothes are on the Boston Bus"....just boggles the mind.

My daughter's green Lands' End windbreaker wasn't on the fence, with all the other kindergarten coats one warm afternoon, in the middle of pickup. But a very similar, same size and color, London Fog windbreaker was! After several days, that London Fog coat showed up in lost and found. I eventually gave up and took it and washed it, and let my daughter wear it, posting a notice offering to swap coats back. Never heard a thing.

When we were on a long distance train to Florida, I put my sons handknit sweater (with sheep on it! It was so cute!) with our coats. It went missing. I didn't know if I left it on the train, if it was stolen, or what. It was just gone. What would one think? Those ladies, I bet, would assume that one of the many other passengers on this crowded, diverse car had stolen it.

Years later, when packing for a plane trip, while carefully checking every pocket of the suitcase for sharps, guess what I found in an obscure, seldom used pocket? Yep...Harry's long outgrown sheepy sweater!

I hope the teacher suggests a little more tolerance to this group of women.


Naomi Zikmund-Fisher said...

Perhaps the hardest thing, at moments like this, is speaking up. It's hard to know what to say when someone acts like this, especially when you aren't part of the conversation -- how do you eavesdrop and then object to what is being said? No easy answer there. Perhaps the most powerful thing you can do is tell them that you find what they're saying insulting to you. "Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhear you, and I just wanted to say that there are a lot of people in this store who love the metco program and the Boston kids and it's really upsetting that you think we all want to listen to you make these nasty allegations. I would think you would have more respect for your neighbors than to assume we're all as intolerant as you."

I dare you.

Colleen said...

I have called people on it, when I wasn't actually involved in the conversation, before, but this time I was pretty much in the next room. Had I thought of saying it that way, I *would* have. I'll gladly take the dare next time!