This afternoon, I drove Wil and myself to Trader Joe’s for some groceries. It’s the first time in almost a week that I’ve been behind the wheel, and I was kind of excited to be out around other people. After what seemed like forever trying to find a space in the parking lot (a seeming requirement of this establishment), I finally found one on the far end of the lot and pulled into it. We got out of the car, grabbed our grocery bags, and made our way toward the store.
We hadn’t gotten very far when we heard a woman honk the horn of her SUV at the car in front of her. Her window was down (as was the window of the man whom she was honking at) and we heard her yell “Put on your goddamn blinker you BLACK MAN.” There was so much hatred and, I guess the best way to describe it, venom in her voice. Wil and I stopped in our tracks and stood there, looking at her in total disbelief and shock, with our mouths wide open.
I could tell the man she was yelling at heard her. His car was closer to her than we were, and his window was down. He didn’t say anything to her, but he did put on his blinker and slowly made his turn. I looked at his face, an expression of sadness and defeat at being treated this way. Like he hears this all too often.
The woman drove away and I looked at Wil. We were both so shocked that we didn’t even say anything, not that it would’ve helped by that point. Here was this woman, leaving a grocery store that we all get the same food from, spewing such hateful words at this man and then driving away like it was nothing.
I didn’t have parents who raised me to be accepting of everyone as equals. My parents weren’t openly racist, they were the quiet types, who just looked scared if a person with different colored skin came near them. I saw this and learned on my own from their ignorance and fear that a person should not be judged by the color of their skin. Their behavior was unnecessary and embarrassing. I vowed to raise my own children with this knowledge I had acquired so that they would be the good people we need more of in this world.
As we walked into Trader Joe’s, the shock of what that woman said slowly turned to anger and shame that there are people like that in the world. I was bothered that I didn’t have the quick thinking brain to call her on it before she drove away. I looked across the store and saw the man she had yelled at, strolling through the produce department, living his life, just like we are.
I hope one day this man, who probably has a wife and kids at home, will someday live in a world where all people are treated as equals. We all have a heart and a brain. I just wish more people would use them for something good.