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The Sun Never Set On This Sundown Town

, , , , | Right | February 5, 2021

Due to a staffing shortage, I’m filling in at a location in a town that is infamous in our part of the state for racial issues.

It used to be a sundown town, and the high school mascot had the same name as an Asian slur until the 1980s.

I’m mixed-race but am light enough that I pass for white. I’m doing some paperwork at the counter when an older couple walks in. My coworker calls out a greeting. They smile and wave.

Coworker: “What are you guys up to this afternoon?”

Wife: “Oh, we’re getting all our errands done before the game tonight.”

Coworker: “I forgot. [High School] is playing at home tonight, right?”

Wife: “Yep. We’ll probably head over there later. I’ve got my [New Mascot] gear ready to go!”

Husband: “I should pull out my old gear and wear it.”

Wife: “You know that wouldn’t be a good idea.”

Husband: “Good old [High School] [Asian Slurs]!”

Completely shocked, I stop writing and stare at the man. My coworker’s jaw drops.

Me: “Come again?”

Husband: “[Asian Slurs]. That’s what they used to be called. I’d wear my old gear if people weren’t so sensitive about it.”

My coworker and I exchange shocked looks. The wife looks like she wants to crawl in a hole.

Me: “Sir, please don’t use that word.”

Wife: “Okay, I think we’re done here. Honey, let’s go home.”

She pulls on his arm. He stares me down.

Husband: “It’s not an offensive term, you know.”

Me: “Yes, it is.”

Husband: “It’s a term of endearment. They like being called that! Just like blacks are okay with being called—”

Wife: *Pulls on his arm harder* “Let’s go!”

Me: “That’s it. I’m done. [Coworker], I’m going in the back. Let me know when they’re gone.”

As I’m walking away, I can hear the husband yelling that he’s right and I’m just sensitive, and the wife attempting to drag him out the door. My coworker comes back a few minutes later.

Coworker: “All clear. I’m sorry you had to hear that. Just so you know, not everyone here is racist. Some of the old people can’t let the past go, but I promise the rest of us are normal.”

Thankfully, they haven’t come back while I’ve been there!

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