This is a warning, what you are about to read is something that has me very emotional. I often try to write from a clear and level headed stand point but this right here, I’ve had enough of it. So many times I go into a store whether it is Marshall’s, Macy’s or Neiman Marcus with the intent to browse at my own pace. Now keep in mind I usually go to the areas where these stores are occupied by a mixed breed of people, to ensure that there is a certain level of shopping peace. So normally (despite what I may want to see) there is a predominantly white group of managers and some sales associates. You may have a Hispanic person or two in the mix and usually a token or two African Americans. This does not bother me because companies are entitled to hire whom they so ever chose but it’s the person the hire that I need to address. The person who shares the same skin color and sometimes cultural appearance as myself (black).
Dear Mr. Black cashier,
As I stand in this line and watch the many items intricately placed along the isle I hear you. As you offer your services to the Caucasian consumer greeting them with a full smile and lightened tone of voice “Hello ma’am how may I serve you?” The eye contact is efficient enough and the gestures are very mild and kind. I gaze at my watch as I am patiently awaiting to be called next for check out. You look at me briefly probably hoping that you do not have to wait on me next. The White woman is kindly judging you by the dirt under your nails and the texture of your hair. She smiles briefly to indicate that she comes in peace and that she requires nothing more but slight ass kissing and assistance with ringing up her items. You make light jokes with her and attempt to compliment her baby screaming in the carriage before you. I see your un-comfortability with the role you are playing as it is not you, because it is not. I wonder to at the stain of your lips how many blunts you smoke on the way home to soothe the pain of acting in a role that you were intricately chosen to play all day. We watch as you shake lightly wanting to concentrate on not making a mistake as she scolds you for the way you fold up that blouse that she probably does not need Before I know it she is telling you “forget that I don’t want it, take it off now.” You do so in a childlike manner hoping that no one notices how hard you’ve tried to please her although she is one to a thousand of consumers who you see daily. Finalizing her purchase, she walks away briskly and relieved to be out of your presence greeting the woman near the door with a sincere smile and head nod simply because they look and feel the same. It is now my turn to approach the counter as you do not give me any official warning that I am up next. I have to speak first since you automatically dumb yourself down to a space you believe I occupy. I say “Hey how are you?” The reply is weak and forced as your lack of eye contact grazes me like a bullet flying pass my face. Immediately I am offended by your will to strike up a conversation with the co-worker a few registers down. I place my belongings on the counter but they are not acknowledged. You are drinking your water while attempting to discuss when your break time will be with the guy three registers down. Your lack of customer service motivates me to want to leave but these items are needs for now. I try to look at you but you don’t look at me, you only mumble to the total of my purchase never asking how was the shopping experience. Did I not look the part of a consumer you would rather help? Should I have been one to two shades lighter to be respected for my consideration, time and money? How do you separate and or discern the level of customer service I deserve versus the White woman before me? I pay, despite my better judgement and missed announcement of how much of my money I have to give you. The hairs on my neck are standing and my stomach feels low. I try not to think of how hard I’ve worked to earn the money that I am giving to you, the half-assed nigga doing his ‘job.’ As I grab the back to walk away you say nothing to me about how I should have a good day but you look away eagerly ready to take the White man standing behind me. I walk slow purposefully trying to get an earful of what version of yourself that he will get. In the distance I hear “hello sir, you find everything okay?” In that moment I want to take the bags that I carry and throw them at you with much aggression to express my disdain for your chosen course of action. You are wrong and your miseducation stinks but I digress.
This is something that I’ve heard happening far too often amongst the African American community. We have to understand the roles we play in whatever we do and more importantly what we are sacrificing and who we hurt while we play them. Far too often we place other races and cultures on a pedal stole allowing them to dictate and more than less orchestrate how we handle and respect one another. The money that I am spending with your store and the company fits somewhere into your paycheck the same way that White woman’s dollar does. You have to implode that slave mentality that is to cater to the masses and segregate your own. Just as you’ve treated me this way, someone, somewhere will do that to your mother and father. Treating them as second class citizens while looking all the same. Please be mindful of who’s cultural bias you are helping to live and thrive.
Vashon Wade 2017