Sunday, June 11, 2017

We Always Are

We were waiting behind a young mom with two children. The elevator was slow and poorly placed for waiting. Not a lot of people can fit in that area. Besides Joe, Ruby and I, there was a mother, a pram and a walking toddler. When the elevator came she indicated that we could go ahead, we all insisted that she had been there first. She went in with thanks. Yes, she was a woman of colour, but that wasn't relevant to the story. In fact, there is, as of yet, no story. People being kind to people isn't made more dramatically better because the races of the people in the story are different.

Then, the man standing near the window started talking to us, white to white, about how rude a culture she, and those like her, come from. Now, she had offered for us to go first, she had been perfectly pleasant, but he focused on the fact that, get this, the next person in line got on next. I despised that he thought to bring us in to that kind of causal and intentional racism. Ruby was looking at him and then us, it was like she knew that something would happen.

I took a breath, to calm down and to steady my voice, and said, "I don't think that's true, I find rude people in every culture, true, but mostly I meet wonderful and friendly people everywhere." He looked up, startled that his racist assumption had been disagreed with. He started mumbling about her 'culture of rudeness' and I then asked him to stop. Joe and I can deal with his bigotry but we don't want Ruby hearing it. The world needs to be a safe place to grow up with an inclusive soul. It isn't, so that's our job to make it so.

We got on the elevator and talked about what the man had said. We talked about how it was wrong and how, when it is safe to, it's important to speak up and say that you don't think that way.

Being disabled has taught me that the enemy has many names, homophobia, sexism, racism, transphobia, ableism, but they spring from the same foul water - bigotry. And if we're gonna win, we need to speak up even when we are not the target. Because, you realize, we, in the most inclusive sense of we, always are.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Evil flourishes when good people do nothing. And evil acts begin with hateful words.....so yes, it is the job of each of us if we 'see something, say something", as the public transit systems tell us.

thanks for modeling HOW to say something, Dave. You and Joe are such great uncles for Ruby and Sadie.
and teachers for all of us.
clairesmum

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

People who are bigoted have to push SOMEONE down to raise themselves.

Only it doesn't work, and they look pathetic.