Alive and Well

It happened a few weeks back.    I made my way through Kroger searching for their amazing homemade tortillas.   My attire included a shorts, my Honduras shirt and flip-flops.  

There was a gentleman employee in the dairy section.  He spoke only Spanish.  Curious at why a gringo woman in suburbia might be wearing a shirt with the Honduran flag on it, he approached me and gingerly smiled and asked 'Honduras?'  

We practiced my Spanish for about 20 minutes.  He spoke about his hometown in Southern Mexico.  He spoke of the 'pobre' (poor) in Central America.  He had tears in his eyes (seriously) as he told me about Kroger throwing out food that 'his people' could eat.    We laughed together at my Spanish.  He prayed that God would bless my family.

About that time, the manager walked up to me with a scowl on his face.   'Is this man bothering you?' he asked me.   My stomach began to churn as I said, 'No, we are just enjoying a conversation in Spanish.'   He seemed taken aback.   His initial question revealed his stereotypical discrimination.   He couldn't gloss over his assumptions with a smile.

My new friend sheepishly apologized to me and hurried back to work.   I made my way through the store looking at all of the gringo customers and wondering just what it would feel like to be a man from Southern Mexico in a store in wealthy suburbia full of people like me.   

I suppose I'll know soon enough what it feels like to be the outsider;  but will I ever know what it feels like to be automatically categorized as 'less than' or 'a bother' or 'not worth the time for human communication?'  

In case you wondered... discrimination, while much more covert and subtle, is alive and well.


Carisa said…
Great, thought-provoking post. Wow.
Lara said…
Wow, Laura. What ignorance.

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