I was enjoying a pleasant experience at a suburban men’s clothing store the other day. My sales person, John was enthusiastically taking my money and I was excited about the clothing he had up-sold me. I only went in for a shirt…the alterations on my new sport coat and 2 pair of slacks would be ready in 2 days.
John was interrupted by another salesperson,”He doesn’t want me to wait on him. “John said, “What?” and was answered, “He wants his own kind.” John stopped and looked at the other employee and said, “Excuse me?” The employee repeated, “He doesn’t want me to help him.”
This is 2011. I’m shopping in a nice, suburban neighborhood, retail outlet. The customer refusing help is a clean-cut, well-groomed, professional-looking, 30 something. Is this for real?
With clenched jaw, John went to the stores manager. The manager helped the customer.
The employee who had been refused was a 70-year-old retired military man. He fought for our country and defended us all.
If you Google “Hate Groups,” there are over 900 hate groups listed. Should we start a dexteresque hate group–a hate group that hates hate groups? Well…no. It’s a reminder that racism continues to exist. It can be anywhere and is everywhere. It is the responsibility of people to work against it, and it starts with our children. Do not assume they know what is right – teach them, and show them.
When I was 13-years old, my parents owned and operated a neighborhood convenience store. A small cafeteria was attached to the store. Mom ran the cafeteria and dad ran the store.
The cafeteria did a lively lunch business supported by a few local businesses. One warm summer day, a local power company service crew stopped to eat. One member of the service crew was an African American (back then, he was black). Several regulars from a local gravel operation began heckling the man, “You know where the colored section is? It’s out in your damn truck you ___!” The heckling became worse. My dad took off his white store apron, handed it to me, and asked me to run the register. He was going to lunch. My dad went through the line, got a tray of food and sat down with the African American man. It was a lesson. The cafeteria closed a short time later. It had been black- balled. Over the years, my dad taught me we all have prejudices, but must understand they are wrong and work to change them. Teach your children.
Here are several tolerance teaching organizations including:
Anti-Racist Parent, Teaching Tolerance, Character Education, and the Civil Rights Project.