Today we were heading to the library and saw signs saying it was closed but early voting was happening so decided to go in and vote.
We walked in and it was like they all smelled something unpleasant by the look on their faces. Her tone of voice also spoke of unwelcome-ness when she said the library was closed and are you here to vote. She asked if I was there to vote and I said yes and she said that I needed to first fill out the envelope they had placed on the bench.
It was a bad feeling, especially when a white guy walked in right after me and she stood up and was smiling and speaking in a pleasant voice to him.
The woman there kept staring and I pretended she was looking at me in a pleasant way and smiled very friendly back at her quickly before looking away. My mom had always said to let the ugliness live in them and not you.
We did our voting and went to the movie store to get some more movies. We are big movie watchers since we turned off our cable years ago now, about 6 or 7 years now I think. But my daughters were talking about how rude that one lady was and how they could not believe it. I said i felt it too and my shyest one (the one who gets very red in face when it is just us and has cried when giving them at school) said "I wish I could go tell her how she made us feel."
So I said 'let's do it!" The girls got nervous and worried that something very bad would happen. This is what living with systematic oppression does to you though and I wanted to change that for my daughters. My youngest was saying as we pulled up to the library again "Mom, you can't what if they call the cops or something?!"
The oldest does not like confrontations of any kind and I said I would do the talking and she could wait in the car with her youngest for me then. the one super shy twin wanted to go with her sister half wanting to and half afraid. She walked in as far as the first set of doors and watched us through the glass.
The lady looked surprised to see us again and in that same sort of tone of voice said 'Can we help you?' so I explained that we had been there before and had gotten the impression from they were smelling something unpleasant when they stared at us and how my daughter wanted to come and say something. She could barely look them in the eyes, she is that shy around people but nodded her head as I explained it made her very angry that they were staring at them and even more so when she kept staring at me, her mom.
The white ladies seemed very surprised about this. It is what makes me think it is so ingrained that they do not even realize they are doing it. They changed the tone of their voice, which was nice! She apologized several times to her and to me and said that she looks at everyone and tried to make a joke about how she will look at the ceiling then.
I really wanted to point out the differences between when I walked in and the white guy did but figured we had done enough for right then and she had already apologized several times.
As we were walking away I asked her if that was enough or did she want me to say more? She said she felt we had said it all and hoped they would recognise it when they do it again so it does not happen anymore.
I told her it feels like that moment in the movie V for Vendetta (a very goofy looking movie but one I think people should see) where she learns to live without fear and walks into the rain and raises her arms in a gesture of power.
with warm smiles,