A Startling Encounter.

It was a beautiful Saturday night. We were sitting on the patio at a fabulous restaurant with another couple, enjoying the cool breeze on our faces as jazz music played in the background.

Everything was perfect—the view, the food, the atmosphere. Even Tori was on her best behavior, charming the people around us with her gap-toothed smile.

Conversation was light, centering around people we knew and things we’d recently done.

But when a Muslim couple walked in and crossed in front of our table, the evening took a horrifying twist.

You see, while the man was wearing Western-style clothing, the woman was dressed in traditional attire—with a scarf covering her hair and face and a long, black robe cloaking her body. And our dinner companion? Did not approve.

He immediately started grumbling. “Oh no. Would you look at that. Why don’t those people  just go back to their own damn country if they want to act like that?”

Although his wife shushed him, he continued in the same vein for several more horrifying moments.

Finally, his wife stomped on his foot and said, “Stop it. Stop it right now.”

And he did. But the damage had been done. My evening was ruined. Not just because of his blatant racism, but because of my inability to say anything. When he started in, the voice in my head said, “Tell him to quit it. Tell him that’s not right. Tell him!”

But instead, I silently examined my plate, pretending I couldn’t hear what was going on.

What kind of example is that for my daughter? I mean sure, she doesn’t have a clue what he’s saying right now, but in a couple of years, she will. And if I let incidents like that pass, she’ll think it’s okay. That it’s alright to make fun of people because they’re different. That racism is acceptable.

And that? Is not okay in my book.

So, I made a promise to myself. A promise to stick up for what I believe in. To not let others get away with behavior I condemn. To open my mouth and say something when the situation demands it.

Because I? I’m doing my damnedest to bring my daughter up to be a strong, confident woman. And the racist sexist pigs of this world better not stand in my way.

I am Mommy. Hear me roar.

Mama's Losin' It

32 Comments on A Startling Encounter.

  1. holly
    July 8, 2010 at 8:58 pm (6 years ago)

    This happened to me recently in a way. We were sitting across from an elderly couple and the woman started saying racist comments. She also commented on my daughters blonde hair and blue eyes (as in they are ‘right’). I knew I should have spoken up but I shyed away. I was disappointed in myself once we boogied out of there quickly.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:50 am (6 years ago)

      Wow. I would have been flabbergasted too. Sometimes, when people get really old, they seem to think they can say anything they darn well want. Which isn’t a good idea if what they want to say is stupid!

      Reply
  2. Cheryl @ Mommypants
    July 8, 2010 at 9:10 pm (6 years ago)

    Oooh..I would’ve been FURIOUS! Sometimes I’m so shocked at what someone says I’m literally speechless. And then on the way home? I think about all the things I wished I’d said. The good news? I bet if something like that happens again, you’ll speak up.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:49 am (6 years ago)

      Yep, I’m good at the two-hours-too-late comeback too. Now I just have to summon the proper words faster!

      Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:49 am (6 years ago)

      If I can do it, so can you. 😉

      Reply
  3. Deanna
    July 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm (6 years ago)

    Stopping by from Mama Kat’s….I love this post! I can just feel the anger and frustration I would have felt if I were sitting there. I’m so thankful I get a chance to teach my daughters to be better than that. I need to get better about having the courage to say things that need to be said sometimes, but I hope, for them, I can do it.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:48 am (6 years ago)

      That’s right. For our daughters, we can do anything…after all, we birthed them, and nothing could be harder than that, right?

      Reply
  4. Leslie
    July 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm (6 years ago)

    We have all sat quietly by when we should have spoken up about something. You probably were just too shocked. Sometimes we can’t believe what people do and it catches us off guard. Next time you will be prepared:) Great post…thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:47 am (6 years ago)

      I’ve sat on my hands one too many times I think. But people are just…amazing, aren’t they? I can’t believe some of the things that come out of their mouths.

      Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:46 am (6 years ago)

      Let’s all roar together…one, two, three…ROAAAAR!

      Reply
  5. Allison @ Alli 'n Son
    July 8, 2010 at 11:42 pm (6 years ago)

    It’s so hard to speak up in those situations isn’t it? Setting a good example for the kiddo is great motivation though.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:46 am (6 years ago)

      It’s the best motivation I can think of. For anything, really.

      Reply
  6. Nolie
    July 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm (6 years ago)

    ROAR! I think it just caught you completely by surprise. Now you are fully prepared for the next time you are faced with a situation that is not right.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:45 am (6 years ago)

      You got that right. After all, I just told the Internet I would.

      Reply
  7. sara@domesticallychallenged
    July 8, 2010 at 11:56 pm (6 years ago)

    Wonderful post. I have been there, and had the same thoughts. It just takes one of us to begin stopping this type of talk. You rock!

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:45 am (6 years ago)

      Maybe if we all teach the next generation that this isn’t okay, it will fade away all together? We can hope, anyway.

      Reply
  8. Jessica
    July 9, 2010 at 9:08 am (6 years ago)

    What a jerk (the guy, not you). I was pleased to read about your outlook for your daughter. I’m sure you are and will continue to raise her well.

    I am pretty honest and blunt so I would’ve said something to the man, even if I weren’t at the same table. I cannot stand racist people or people who talk down other people in any way, shape, or form. It’s just cruel and lowlife.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:18 pm (6 years ago)

      I need to take lessons from you! I only wish I was that outspoken…but alas, the only time I speak my mind is when drunk.

      Reply
  9. Cyrene
    July 9, 2010 at 9:25 am (6 years ago)

    It amazes me how some people just literally speak without thinking. Or they do think, they just don’t care. Sigh. I’ve been in that very same boat you were in. You’re right about one thing – setting a good example for our kids is the best motivation to speak up. I DO so hope, that a lot more people in the world think like us and would be able to raise kids who respect and accept diversity.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:17 pm (6 years ago)

      Amen, sister. Someday it will happen, I’m sure of it.

      Reply
  10. wendy
    July 9, 2010 at 11:01 am (6 years ago)

    My mother in law is totally racist – though she would never fully admit it, instead always prefacing her comments by saying “I don’t want to sound prejudice but those people are “. I feel like I encounter this kind of behavior a lot (last weekend, in fact) and I am guilty of having your same reaction. I don’t want to say anything to avoid being confrontational. But I totally hear you..I want to raise a daughter who would never stand for such crap and I can’t teach her if I don’t give her a valid example.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:16 pm (6 years ago)

      Yep, it’s especially tough to stand up to In-laws. You want them to like you! But maybe if framed carefully, it wouldn’t be insulting to them…

      Reply
  11. Amber
    July 9, 2010 at 5:15 pm (6 years ago)

    Amen to this.

    I’ve found that I’m starting to stick up more in what I believe in. I probably come across as a total biznitch sometimes but oh well.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:15 pm (6 years ago)

      I think we all have to let our inner biznitch free sometimes…that girl, she gets things done.

      Reply
  12. Marilyn (A Lot of Loves)
    July 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm (6 years ago)

    I think in many cases we are too surprised to know what to say. That has happened to me in the past, however as I get older I find it much easier to speak up. I’ve told people to stop using the words “retarded”, “gay”, and “rag head”, and I will continue to do so. Once you stick up for others once, it gets easier every time.

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 9, 2010 at 8:14 pm (6 years ago)

      I hope you’re right. I’ve been guilty of using the word retarded (hangs head in shame). But I’m trying to erase that from my vocab.

      Reply
  13. Andrea
    July 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm (6 years ago)

    Good for you for resolving to do so! Its hard because we know we are making an awkward social situation even more awkward. Its one of the hardest things to do! Maybe you could engage the person in conversation like “Hm, interesting point. But our country is founded on personal freedom, right?” And interrupt the diatribe so the have to think about what they are saying. Easier said than done, I know!! :)

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 12, 2010 at 9:51 pm (6 years ago)

      That’s a good theory. I’ll have to try that one!

      Reply
  14. Danielle
    July 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm (6 years ago)

    Great post! I am dealing with this with my in-laws. I have managed to open my hubby’s eyes but somehow find it so hard to say anything in front of his family. You are right though – it’s important for our kids to stand up and say something!

    Reply
    • Amber
      July 14, 2010 at 4:20 pm (6 years ago)

      There must be a way to do it diplomatically. It’s just hard to figure out what that might be.

      Reply

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