In preparation for small group on most Wednesdays, I usually end up having to go to the grocery store for an ingredient here or there. This week, as I was thinking about how this month is a tad tighter on the finances than others, Save-A-Lot came to my mind. “Well duh!” I said.
It was a really nice experience, as it usually is. I had a 5 minute conversation in aisle three with a White couple and a Black woman about the differences in chicken stock and chicken broth, to which none of us really knew any concrete answers.
As I walked down the back dairy aisle, a young man who was an employee there asked me how I was with a smile as he walked by.
Strolling towards check out, I listened to a Hispanic couple banter over what was in the cart in Spanish; and I understood a few words and smirked.
The cashier that rang up my items was an Older Black lady who seemed exhausted. It didn’t stop her from conversing with me over how cold it was, and followed that up with a genuine “have a wonderful day.”
I started to pile my food loot in a small box over on the box counter, and then realized a JCP bag was sitting there and opted for that instead. A Black man asked me how I was doing, and we talked about how the boxes always fall apart.
And then I was on my way.
As I pulled out of the Save-A-Lot parking lot, my inner dialogue began to kick in. “Why don’t I ever remember to go to Save-A-Lot? I save a crap load of money and I always meet someone nice.”
And then an uncomfortable wave of truth hit me. I don’t know why it didn’t happen until yesterday, because I swear I’ve asked myself that same question the few times I’ve left Save-A-Lot in the past.
But as I turned onto a road I was unfamiliar with, I realized something yucky: In my town, Save-A-Lot’s general customers are of all races and kinds of people.
And I’m a little bit of a racist. That’s why I don’t remember to shop at Save-A-Lot.
Even though I typed those 7 words last night, and probably am no where near my computer right now, I just felt all 6 of you that read my blog gasp in horror and judgement.
“HOW DAAAARRRREEEE YOU!” Well, calm down. Let me explain.
I don’t believe white people are superior than any and/or all of the other races.
The n-word absolutely repulses me, as well as other demeaning words used to stereotype and describe another race.
You will never see a bumper sticker on my car communicating to the cars behind me that other ethnic groups need to learn English (yes, I do think that is a subtle and incredibly arrogant form of racism)
The list could go on. I’m not a racist when it comes to some pretty obvious things.
I grew up in a home with a mom that was pretty sweet to everyone (including people who did not speak English, because she decided to learn Spanish to better connect with people in our town…) and a dad who claimed not to be racist, while saying some really racist things.
I lived in Miami, and on my first day of my freshmen year of high school, a group of tall Black boys came up to me. One of them grabbed my shirt and started to pull me towards a staircase, but in the nick of time a Black girl swooped in, grabbed my arm, and walked with me to my class (we ended up having the same first class anyway, which was awesome). I swear, I lived a real life “Save the Last Dance” situation, minus being a dancer and falling in love…. (and everything else).
I dated a Cuban guy, and my favorite thing about that time was being a part of his Hispanic family every now and then, soaking in how different they were from me and how awesome it was.
I was called “cracker” and “white girl” with a rude inflection tons of times, among many other things growing up. Every now and then I mustered up the courage to say something slick when someone said something rude to me for no reason, which led to several almost-ass kickings by swarms of Black and Hispanic girls. I also ended up being friends with lots of those girls towards the end of the school years. When you gotta sit in class with people for long enough, you realize you’re not that different.
My best friend in the whole world is a cornucopia of Hispanic heritages.
When Daniel and I were newly weds, we lived in a small house in Greer, South Carolina. Our quaint abode was a block away from a laundry mat, where I would walk with our dog Titan to wash our clothes. One time, as I was crossing the street, a Black lady in a car cut in front of me and told me in a generous amount of violent words to remove myself from the street or she was going to kill me.
KILL ME. For crossing the street.
I’ve had great and not-so-great experiences with other races. But the truth is, I’m a little skittish around people who aren’t quite like me sometimes. This is as uncomfortable for me to write as it is for you to read, but I would bet the majority of humans on earth would know this to be true if they were really being honest.
In reality, White folk have bruised me WAAAAAAYYYY more than any other race has. But white is more familiar. That isn’t so much true for my childhood, but it definitely has been for the past 9 years. I’m a white girl surrounded by a lot of white people a lot of the time. It’s what I’m used to.
So a white lady can be a big turd to me at Publix, and all the Black people in the world can treat me with all of the respect I [don’t] deserve at Save-A-Lot, but my inclination is usually and/or always to go to Publix (or most recently Trader Joe’s, because #Awesome).
I am more comfortable with what’s familiar, and I sometimes equate “familiar” with “better” in my heart. Maybe not consciously, but it’s there.
That’s why I’m a little bit of a racist. I’m glad that I realized that while driving away from Save-A-Lot though, because I’d really rather not be. I’d like to be comfortable around all kinds of people all of the time.
I wanna make myself familiar with what I’ve become so unfamiliar with, because my Jesus made himself more than familiar with everyone.
This is where you come in. What do you think? How are you a little bit of a racist, or prejudiced at the very least? How do you want to change that?
Disclaimer: I’m absolutely not insinuating that only white People shop at Publix. That’s absurd. However, I do live in what is still considered a rural town, where there are still touches of segregation here and there, and grocery stores are where I’ve observed some of that. I know that in much larger cities like the one I grew up in, everyone shops everywhere.