At the check out, I saw the cashier/manager, a solid tattooed blonde serving two black women. I stood off to the side as she made eye contact with me. Paige was fascinated by the trinkets they put near the counter for that same reason so I made a deal that she could get one but only one. Again, the cashier and the ladies she was serving (Black) would glance over and smile at the negotiations taking place. At one point, another shopper came and stood off from where I was standing. I thought nothing of it.
As soon as the ladies were done (Black), I started to push the cart forward when the cashier/manager nods to the lady standing off to the side and says “Next customer”. The lady steps forward to the counter besides me and my child and begins to offload the items in her cart.
I look at the cashier. I looked back at the lady. I looked at the cashier again then over my shoulder at the other lady working in the store then back to the other customer. Then I say, very annoyed, “you realize I’m standing here and was here first right?”
The tatted blonde cashier/manager looks at me in disgust and says “the line starts here. There’s a sign there. You couldn’t read it?”
I looked at her and back at the sign then down to where I was standing and say “I was standing on the line lady and yes, I can read quite well even though this sign is not in the best place to begin with. You saw me here first. If I needed to move six inches on the left to be on your imaginary line then why not say so?”
She pauses taking the tags off the lady’s items and looks at me with rage. “You people need to…” I cut her off. My Incredible Hulk was now coming out. “You people? Which people lady? You men? You Bahamian men or you Black Bahamian men? Tell you what. This little basket you’re dealing with just cost you and Carters a whole cart full of money. What an incredibly racist thing to say. ‘You people.”
I look at the lady being served (White). Her face literally was white as a sheet. She was mortified. I saw the shame at being made an unwilling accomplice in this scene. I said nothing to her and I looked at my child off to the side oblivious to everything going on. Then I let the beast out.
“You can go **** yourself. If this is your idea of a power trip, fine. Have it. This is the best you’ll have it clearly. I got a whole country to go back to, you, well you have this shit so have a nice life. Asshole.” I took my daughter by the hand and we walk out. She’s upset because we didn’t get her stuff and she asks me as I’m walking past the other lady at the door “why are we leaving?” I say to my kid, while looking at the other lady, “because that lady over there is a racist pig”. The lady at the door looked stunned. Just as we get outside, my daughter says “my Disney stuff…”. Before going into Carters, we went into the Disney Store and she picked up a few things and I put the bag into the trolley that was still sitting at the corner. So I turn around and I march back into the store. The lady at the door is still standing looking stunned. The lady at the corner picks up the phone and says “Sir I’m calling the police. We don’t allow people who curse into the store.” I say nothing to her as I get the Disney bag out the trolley. She adds “really classy of you, right in front of your kid.”
I stopped dead in my tracks and turned around. Before I reentered the store, I promised I wouldn’t say anything further. Forget that. I say to her “For all you know, I could have been coming back to apologize to you. Be the bigger person. Lady, you don’t know me or my kid to say what’s classy or what isn’t. Maybe you’re not used to the idea of a black man shopping with his child and buying more than anyone else in the store. That’s your problem but let me tell you what I wouldn’t allow to happen in front of my daughter. She’s five. She understands fully what is happening now. I will never let anyone disrespect her father the way you tried to in front of her. You spit out fire, you got it back in your face. America can shit on it’s black men but I’m not one of them so you can carry your raggedy community college working two jobs snorting meth ass on with your bad self. This kid knows there are rotten people in the world and she’s looking at one right now. Good day.”
I high stepped out of that store like Deon Saunders in the end zone thinking “I got her good”. I knew that I would have to sit down and fully explain things to Paige that her little brain may not be ready to handle. Just as I was leaving the store, my niece, who’s just had a baby, is coming through the door. I stop her and say I just had a racist experience with that one over there. All of this is happening in front of the other lady who works in the store. Her face is crushed. My niece smiles and says “I’m just looking. I’m going to Osh Kosh”.
So two sales were lost. Sadly too, though, was the insulation that I’ve always felt from the sting of racism and the fact that my kid now knows there are people in the world who will hate her for nothing more than the color of her skin. I don’t know if I represented a threatening image that didn’t fit into a preconceived notion this lady may have had about black people, more specifically black Americans. Truthfully, I don’t care. I don’t believe in generalizing people so it’s not something I’d do right out the gate. Good and bad people come in all colors, sizes, shapes and backgrounds. But it did sting and sting badly but I’m wise enough (I think) to understand that this is more a reflection of that one person’s shortcomings as a human being than a label to put on a whole class of people.
I’ve got some good American friends. Black and white. This experience opened my eyes wide but it certainly does not make me look at them any different because they’re good people. Period.