I had an interesting experience yesterday that I'd like to share with you. I'm wondering if you'll get the message here or if you'll miss it; let's find out.

I went to pick my mother up to bring her to the town I live in for Thanksgiving. She's going to be staying with a friend of hers for a few days but doesn't drive long distances anymore.

The New York Thruway has multiple rest areas and while driving her to my area I was hungry and had to go to the rest room. So I pulled off at one of the rest areas to take care of things, while Mom stayed in the car.

I went to the rest room first, then to the McDonald's window, since that was the anchor restaurant at this particular area. I ordered my food, then waited for them to call my number. When my number was called I went to get my food, only to realize that it was only my drink they had ready for me; no big deal. Well, not really; I had asked for extra ice in my drink, and there was barely any ice in it, so I asked if I could have more.

When one of the people took the cup away, the waitress said something I didn't quite hear, but I heard what came out of the guy's mouth who I believe was the front counter manager: "What are you, a wigger?"

I was stunned, but they weren't done (if you don't know what that means, go look it up; I'm not going there right now). They started having a conversation about it while I was standing there, as if they were sitting in a bar. I was stunned, but I made sure not to show it. My thought was that they would never have had that conversation had it not been me standing there, and even if they would have it was inappropriate conversation, at McDonalds, in front of many other people and children and with another black person just about to order food.

Here's the thing. The people were pretty nice to me and except for that episode this would have been a pleasant experience. It seemed fairly obvious that they had no clue that what they were saying, where they were saying it and when they were saying it was their internal racism becoming unhidden. To me, using a term like "wigger" is as bad as the other word that begins with "N", no matter who it's aimed at.

This is where I was in a quandary. I could have used it as a diversity teaching moment, lost my mind, demanded to see a manager then and there, or many other things. Instead, I decided to get my food and leave. I had my mother in the car, I wasn't sure how many other people heard it, and frankly I kind of felt outnumbered, especially since I wasn't in my hometown. I felt like I did one day at a local gas station when a white kid got out of his car with all this misogynist gangsta rap playing, the "N" word being said over and over, his radio playing loudly and him singing the song along with them, then looking at me; what could I say? How did he perceive me at that moment, or was he even noticing that I was there?

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do now, but I shouldn't have to be put into this type of position. Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens more often than most people want to believe, and I know most of it is unintentional. It's just stunning when racism becomes unhidden, and yet the perpetrators still can't see they've done anything wrong. What say you?
 

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