Monday, August 10, 2020

The Day My White Bubble Shattered

I have struggled with writing this for a very long time, and now that the Black Lives Matter movement is at the forefront, this has come back to me once again. It’s about the day, I think it was three years ago, when I was stunned to learn that white privilege does exist, and I witnessed it personally.

There were five of us at a nice restaurant in Baltimore. Two of the others were my daughter, Lindsay, and her love, Monroe. I normally wouldn’t make this distinction, but I am for purposes of this post … Monroe is Black.

So we went into this restaurant, and Monroe went to the host stand and asked for a table for five. They said we should wait in the bar until they called us, and we were fine with that. We went to the bar, which was right next to the dining area, and had drinks while we waited. The entire time we were there, we could see, maybe 10 feet away from us, an empty table that could accommodate us. After a short while, Monroe went back to the stand and asked about it. He was told something that didn’t really make sense. It wasn’t reserved, but they wanted to keep it open to balance the table service, something like that.

So we waited some more as we looked at the same open table. Monroe again went back and asked about the table. Again, we were told something that didn’t make sense.

We waited at least 30 minutes, and after I went over to ask, they finally sat us at THAT SAME TABLE and acted like it had been waiting for us all along.

Side note – my former boss and mentor often said if something wasn’t logical, there’s probably another reason for it. This definitely did not make sense. There had to be another reason for it.

At some point I had this horrific realization that I wouldn’t allow myself to believe. Eventually, I had to ask Monroe. I said something like, “Please tell me this didn’t happen because you checked us in and you’re Black.”

In his typically kind manner, with a little half smile, he said, “Just another day in the life.”

That was three years ago, and it still haunts me. That was the day my nice little bubble was shattered. I thought I didn’t have white privilege. I thought the whole concept was exaggerated. I mean, I’m Jewish, so I’ve certainly had some struggles over the years. I understood what a member of a minority could go through. I was in a minority. I got it … until the day I didn’t. I’d had no idea.

I’m still stunned that this happened. I haven’t even talked about it much because I haven’t known what to say. I don’t even know if the other two people in our group had the same perception. But I know this. It was not logical.

Now that several horrific actions have senselessly taken the lives of Black people, my comparatively minor experience has come back to me once again. It wasn’t just a fluke. It has been made very clear that horrible things have happened to people for no reason other than the color of their skin. And let me say this - I’m not angry at all police officers. I’m angry at a society that has turned a blind eye over and over and over again.

This has to change, and it has to change now. And yes, I will be a part of it.