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Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Lunch Room Lady, Post-racial.

Clearly, not our lady, but the woman on the right could actually be her!
My favorite people at school are often the Lunch Room Ladies. Our current one is new, and young--Miss Ruby, with her wonderful smile, retired last year--but already, Veronica has memorized every child's name, and greets them all with a smile. 

Veronica's second job is behind the counter at an expensive grocery store in a wealthy neighborhood--what Veronica called "bougie." 

This morning, she said that yesterday, a customer asked if she was trying to steer them toward the "black people" salad. Veronica is brown, and like I said, young. Her oldest is only three. The customer was white, as was the other counter person, who said, "I didn't want to interfere, because I wasn't sure if I heard her correctly." Oh, puleeze. 

Veronica said that at first, she explained the salads--"No. This one just has added black beans and cilantro." Then, she built up some steam. "You have no call to talk to that way. I am not going to wait on you. You can go to someone else." 

She was very clear that the rudeness isn't only racial or directed at her. Apparently, this store has such rude customers that sometimes, they are put on probation or suspended from being allowed to shop at the store for up to three days.

Because the motive was bullying and humiliation, for Veronica to speak honestly to this woman about feelings would just have encouraged more bullying. 

But we talked about how the other counter person, the white one, could be encouraged next time to come over and ask, "What did you just say? I'm not sure I heard you correctly. I thought you just said something rude and racist." 

At least Veronica's bosses pay attention and support her. At the local drug store, Glenda said that some people refuse to have her help them, because of her color. 

But of course, these are post-racial days in America. (And we live in the North.) 

I hugged her as I left, and we pantomimed wiping away the nastiness. It makes me boil. 

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