Being biracial has its benefits, although I use that word loosely. Here’s a good example.
My son and I were at the mall in our local town. It’s not a huge mall, but its all there is in that small dry town. It was time for school and he needed sneakers. My son, who spends more time dressing and primping than my daughters, can spend hours looking for just the right shoes. So, I handed him the money and sent him on his way as I ventured on to more interesting stores.
After an hour or so, I began the search for my baby boy. There were only two large sporting stores in the mall, so finding him was not going to be difficult. When I came to the store where he was located, I hung out at the front of the store. I saw my son standing in one place in front of a pair of shoes. The fact that he was not pacing meant he had made a decision. Yes, my timing was perfect. Five minutes went by, and he was still standing there. Okay, maybe he was still thinking. I looked toward the register and there I saw three cute and perky little salespeople standing around laughing and talking. Okay. Ten minutes went by, and of course, I was becoming impatient. I turned towards my son who was, by this time, looking towards the salespeople as well. They were still cute, they were still perky, and they were still standing around the register talking.
Here’s where my story may offend some of you, but reality is what it is.
I married a beautiful dark-brown black man, so my children came out an even more beautiful caramel brown. Now, my husband had told me stories of how he’d been treated in stores, or businesses because of the color of his skin, but I myself had never been the brunt of any type of racism. Could this be what was going on? Now mind you, there had been another gentleman and his son over by the shoes the same time as my baby. The little boy had tried on and purchased a pair of shoes and they were now gone from the store. Their salesman was now at the register as well. I’ll give you one guess what color the man and his son were.
Enough. I put my white side to work. I walked over to the shoes and sure enough, before I even reached my son, the perketts broke huddle and one of them hit me with the “may I help you find anything?”
I’m not a woman of foul language, but I will make sure you understand my point.
“No, you can’t help me. But you could have helped my son. He has been standing here for ten minutes while the three of you ignored him. And please, don’t tell me you didn’t see him. You just lost a $200 sale.”
As we exited the store, my heart sank for my son. He tried to look tough, but how could a 13-year-old possibly understand what had just happened? He said he saw them wait on the other customer and his son, but no one ever came over to him or said anything to him.
Was it racial? You tell me. Why did they ignore him? Was it because they figured as a kid he didn’t have any money anyway? Why did they immediately approach me? Did I just look like I had money, or was it the color of my skin that they saw? Guess we’ll never know.
Did it really matter to them if they lost a sale or not? Probably not, but my child learned a valuable lesson that day. Never, ever judge anyone by what you see on the outside, no matter what. He now knew first hand how much it hurt.
We ended up spending $300 that day instead of $200. I could never take away that pain, that’s something he would probably remember the rest of his life, but I could put a smile on his face.
And of course, I went back to the store to show them I wasn’t lying when I said they lost out on a big sale.
The female member of the perky gang softly said, “We’re sorry ma’am”.
“Yes, you are.”