Sometimes, you're sitting down with your family to have dinner, and you make eye contact with a random woman. She smiles at you, and you smile back. Then she comes closer and keeps smiling without saying a word. So you look at your baby, your mom, take a quick look around for your husband who went to look for another table because someone was smoking near you. Because you were sitting outside, and it's Texas. And your eyes go back to the woman who somehow got even closer with her frozen smile and empty eyes. So finally you say, "hello." Then she squats down beside you, puts her hand on your shoulder, and says, "I just want to say that WE LOVE YOU HERE."
Yes, ladies and gentleman, this is another story of a black woman and a white woman. A story where the black woman schools the white woman about personal space, privilege, and the lack of patience. A story about where the black woman is tired of both obvious and subtle racism, and the white woman playing victim even when she's wrong. So, let's continue, shall we?
"What do you mean by that?" I said slowly and firmly after one of the deepest breaths in my life. One of those "oh shit. here we go again. i can't believe the audacity" breaths. Then I turned around to face her. She was still touching me so I looked at her hand, and moved my eyes along the sleeve of her hot pink blouse over to her cleavage, and then back to her pale face. I could tell she knew that at that moment she was wrong. And so, I waited because I asked again. "What do you mean by 'we love you here?'" She blushed. She choked on her words. Then finally she managed to muster a few words without really forming a true sentence. "Uh... well, you know. With everything happening around the world... With the state of our country... Uh, well. Um, I just.. you are welcome here. That's all."
I took a few more deep breaths, then my eyes traveled to her partner who was turning redder than a tomato on a warm sunny day in May. I noticed his giant cowboy hat and boots making his way over to her to save her. So of course, I smiled at him too. I asked her for her name and his too. Her name was Susan. His was Jonathan. I didn't tell them mine because I really wanted to address them like the ignorant children they were. Although Jonathan seemed more mature. But since he was dating Susan, I now question everything about him.
"Susan? Next time you see a black woman eating dinner with her family, I advise you to never approach her the way you just did with me. I'm a very patient person. Perhaps, I'm patient and very friendly, but I take no shit. So next time, do not touch the black woman without her permission. Do not get in her space uninvited, and most certainly, do not ever repeat those words."
Susan was hurt. Or at least she seemed hurt. She put her hand on her chest. Tears almost formed in her eyes. She behaved as if she was the victim in this scenario. She apologized about 10 times within the minute. She begged for my forgiveness and told me that she would even get on her knees if I could forgive her. "Oh, but that's not necessary, Susan. I just want to be left alone with my family. I just want this conversation to end." And she touched me again. And I looked at her hand again. And again, she apologized. "Here I go touching you without your permission again!" Jonathan was a few feet closer now, ready to snatch Susan before she caused more damage.
And so I asked Jonathan to take her woman away, and to make sure she never does that again. He nodded, and said, "Yes ma'am", but of course, Susan was not done. She asked if she could sit with us so I could teach her how to approach black people. I told her it was not my job, and that I needed to finish my dinner and get back to my family. By that time, my husband had taken our daughter, our food, and moved over to the next table with my mom. "He has no patience for this type of tomfoolery, and I'm grateful he did not get involved because our daughter needs both parents around.
Susan said: We can either leave this here like this. Or we can come together to make a difference in this world. I replied: Susan, it is not my job to teach you how to be a decent human being. I'm already doing my part. So please, let me finish my dinner with my family. And maybe tonight you can google to be a compassionate, decent member of society.
And so with that, I grabbed my bag, and walked away. Honestly, the more I thought about the interaction afterwards, the more furious I got. The nerve of some people! How would you have handled the situation?