Today My 5yr Old Discovered Racism

I’m going to preface this by saying: I am a stereotypical suburban white lady. My knowledge of the challenges and struggles that people of color face daily is limited. I have been living in a blissful bubble of ignorance for the past 29 years and have only recently began to realize how ignorant I truly am.  That being said, I’ve been debating on writing this post at all. Usually I only write about things that directly affect me on a daily basis. What I want to write about today was a one off incident. If anything I write here in comes across as ignorant or offensive, please know that it’s not intentional and feel free to comment/share where I can make improvements.

I was sitting with my family in a local fast food restaurant. There were two employees goofing off in the dining room. They were young, and the manager was nowhere to be found. I wasn’t angry, nor in a hurry. My first job was in a fast food restaurant. I know how things go, especially on a Sunday afternoon when business volume is slow.

We step up to the front counter to place our order. The older woman taking our order was new and had a terrible time figuring out the register. I was confused why no one was helping her, but didn’t really think too much of it.

At least until she came out to “clean the dining room”. She stopped by our table, apologized for our wait and then proceeded to criticize her coworkers. Most of the employees behind the counter were people of color, so when she approached our table in hushed tones complaining about how “they were all lazy”, and she wished her manager would hire more “people like her” so they could get stuff done; the reason her coworkers weren’t helping her became apparent. Especially considering that I could see the rest of the crew working smoothly together behind the scenes after the racist cashier made her way out to the dining room.

I couldn’t say what I wanted to say (well maybe if you weren’t such a racist asshole, your coworkers would be more willing to help you out) because the kids were sitting with us. Instead Hubs and I responded with a look of disgust, before she realized we didn’t share her racist viewpoints and dashed away. Little noticed.

“Why doesn’t she like those boys, Mommy?” She asked innocently, noticing the two young men of color standing behind the counter.

I took a moment to think. On the one hand I was glad that my Little doesn’t see an issue with physical differences, but on the other I felt like she lost some of her innocence as I had to explain to her that some people don’t like other people who look different because of their skin.  God bless my Little as she looked right at me and said: “Oh. Well that’s dumb.”

I smiled and answered: “You’re right. That is dumb. People are people no matter how they look on the outside, and they all deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.”

She nodded and said: “Yep!” then the moment was over and she returned to her sandwich. We finished eating and Little made sure to say a very loud thank you to the two boys still standing behind the register, with a smile and happy wave as we walked out the door. They returned her genuine smile and we made our way to the car.

We won’t be back to that Wendy’s, and I even went out of my way to write two different complaints about the location on various social media sites as well as contacting cooperate. I never got a response from any of them, but at least they’re aware of the issue. Even if they chose to ignore it.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Okay, tried this once, didn’t like it, trying again. I have seen that lazy in the workplace has more to do with two other factors and not racism One, it’s the younger kids who have not yet grasped the meaning of “work ethic” that usually corner the market on lazy, and I’ve seen it in every race but oriental. Second, lazy tends to collect in low paying jobs, because better jobs hire better workers. Again, it’s pretty across the board.

    Where I have seen it affect black workers is the “chip on the shoulder” mentality that some of them have. Again, this is a lot stronger in the younger set. They are more likely to band together to achieve laziness, and/or demand more money without proving themselves deserving of it. We had an incident at my old job (lovingly referred to as the Mau Mau uprising back then) where the entire African American contingent of the crew went into the boss to complain about working conditions, etc, but they pretty much short circuited because the leader was known for perusing rule books to find ways to cause trouble, and the rest just kinda stood there and listened. It was more one guy trying to make a name for himself, because if you can say one thing about that job, it was crappy for everyone.

    Now, the “lady” that served you, she sounds like someone whose job it is in life is to run people off of jobs. They get a certain satisfaction at trash talking others, and would no doubt joyously light on someone else if she had an all white crew as well. How happy she must be to have a convenient scapegoat. Not trying to excuse her at all; her go-to racism is reprehensible- and no doubt long-lived in her family, since she assumes all the white world feels as she does.

    Frankly your post here does more to show what needs to be done and how far we have to go on racism than any sports protest. I wonder how many would have nodded and went along with her, and never really thought about the stupidity they were agreeing to. This is more of a problem than police violence- the problem of allowing this to propagate in families down through the years. In my family, I feel my dad did well, I’ve done better, and KC has surpassed me. That is the way this battle gets won.

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  2. Valid point, I’ve seen it myself being a career manager. When people lack motivation they will do just about anything to do as little as possible, even making false claims of racism. Especially so in the younger set as you said. This specific incident? Definitely racism. The two young kids did an excellent job helping the rest of their teammates after Racist Cashier went out to the dining room. They weren’t avoiding WORK, they were avoiding HER. Plus she used much more colorful language to describe them, which I didn’t feel comfortable publishing. Do I think every person who has an issue with a coworker of color is harboring latent racist ideals? No, certainly not. This lady? Yeah… she wasn’t hiding it either.

    At least it was a good learning experience for Little. I’m glad it never even occurred to her that a difference in skin tone might make someone “less than” herself.

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