I Don’t Mean To Sound Racist But I Am

| Friendly | February 28, 2017

(I am looking for a pair of prom shoes for my daughter. We finally find a pair that isn’t too expensive and matches her dress perfectly, in a store about thirty minutes away from our house. It’s a pretty generalized location, and there are four other people shopping in the store with us: three African-American women and one older Caucasian woman in her early sixties. My daughter has just tried on the shoes in question to find them a perfect fit and is putting them back in the box when the older lady approaches us.)

Older Lady: “Excuse me, can y’all help me?”

(The other three women are standing at the register just four or five feet away from us. She motions to the display of shoes and looks over at us conspiratorially.)

Older Lady: “I don’t mean to sound racist, but don’t these shoes look a little…” *she lowers her voice, but does that loud whisper that anyone in the store can hear* “…ETHNIC… to you?”

(All eyes are immediately on us, and my daughter wants to sink under the bench. I look up at the shoes and come up with the only thing I can think to say.)

Me: “Are you kidding? All kids are wearing their shoes like this!”

(She grimaces as if I’ve told her all kids wear leeches on their feet.)

Older Lady: “Yeah. But my son goes to a preparatory academy and I don’t think he’d like looking like… one of them.”

Me: “Well, if that’s true then all you can do is bring him back here with you to ask him yourself!”

(She stood there for a minute, blissfully ignorant of the three women still giving her a bit of the stink-eye and my daughter slinking away from her, before finally wandering out of the store. As we got up to the front register, the lady behind the counter just gave us a “WTF?” look as we shrugged our shoulders, paid for my daughter’s shoes, and went on our way. For the record folks, if you have to preface what you’re about to say with “I may sound prejudiced, but…” THEN DON’T BLOODY SAY IT!)


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