Look up, please. Someone look up because I can’t do this alone. I must ask for some support in addressing this hateful and ignorant man.
Originally posted on Facebook
On Wednesday, I was standing in line at the grocery store. It’s the day before thanksgiving, so it is quite literally a 45 minute wait. I’m standing by those dreaded magazines with all the horrible headlines, which I always try to ignore.
Everyone is keeping to themselves mostly, except for… Behind me, stands the personification of privilege — a white male (I’m assuming cisgender and straight.) He (a total stranger, mind you) has the audacity to elbow, point to Hilary and Michelle Obama on the cover of one magazine, and quite loudly state: “I can’t believe that loser c#nt thinks she can steal the win from Donald. Her and that n!gg#r are such whiny bitches.” Then he laughs heartily.
When I say that he spoke loud, I mean bellowing. I look around — and everyone not only in my aisle but the aisle on both sides of me has heard. They grimace…and then they look down. Men, women, white, black… They look down.
I suddenly flash to a remembrance of me as a 6-year-old child. A family member once owned a home that was part of the Underground Railroad. We’d sit behind this concrete slab under their deck and talk about what happened here. Even as a small child — a young, white man myself — I said I would die before I let that kind of open hate live in my world. I made the same resolution when I learned about the holocaust in junior high. And I felt that exact same fire now — in the grocery store.
I found myself, like everyone else, looking down…but I couldn’t continue to do that. After about 30 seconds, something in me snapped. I put down my basket, turned around and looked that man in the eyes. I was shocked by how badly I was shaking, but words began spilling out of my mouth, loudly and fiercely.
I asked everyone:
“I’m sorry, everyone, but I must ask for some support in addressing this hateful and ignorant man. Look up, please. Someone look up because I can’t do this alone.”
People began to look up. I began to cry and I don’t know why but I couldn’t stop. I continued staring the man down… “Those comments were inappropriate and i will not allow them in my world.”
His reply? “Dude, calm down. I wasn’t calling you a c#nt or a n!gg#r.”
By now, everyone was looking up. I continued, shaking uncontrollably.
“You will stand in this line and you will keep your mouth shut. You won’t speak. You will not address any of us. You will pay for your items and you will leave.”
He kept trying to respond, and I kept cutting him off by calmly repeating “You’re done. Shut your mouth.” By now, people were clapping. Eventually, he got quiet and looked down. We were all looking up and now He was the one looking down.
Immediately, everyone began talking. Not about him, but the holidays. Joyous, laughing. And it wasn’t out of embarrassment or to pretend what happened didn’t just happen…. But it was because we were instantly bonded in this weird but beautiful way.
I openly talked about the Friendsgiving my partner and I were prepping at home for our LGBT family, as well as the pre-Thanksgiving we had earlier in the week for transgender youth who weren’t invited home… Us strangers even hugged upon checkout.
Together, we silenced ignorant hate. We made the choice to look up. And we shared a moment. I was overwhelmed with emotion and fear before I decided to speak, but I asked for help…and help came forth, strongly and beautifully.
Originally posted on Facebook