So yesterday one of the Posse members told us about a day trip she and her husband had taken with a retired colleagues' group to which they belong to Granville, a scenic little Ohio college town about 30 miles outside Columbus.
After lunch in a nice restaurant my friend wanted to visit some of the cute little shops in the town. But when my friend and her husband entered the first store The Thing happened. The Thing that that still happens once in a while when my friend, who is white, and her husband, who is African American, enter a public place together. The sudden silence. The feel of eyes on them. My friend's desire to leave, just leave.
It didn't happen in every store in the town, of course, and it doesn't happen all the time. But it did happen again that day.
"Oh, I know what you mean," sympathized one of our other friends who just turned 70 and who spent most of her career working in Washington D.C. in the Office of Human Resources Management.
He daughter, an attorney in her early thirties, was shopping with a white friend at a local White House Black Market store. As they roamed the upscale boutique, each picking out clothes to try on, a white saleswoman approached the white woman and asked if she could open a dressing room for her. The salesperson did not return to my friend's daughter, who also had some items draped over her arm, to ask if she could open a dressing room for her, but stayed attentive to the white woman, returning and retrieving items to and from the racks for her while ignoring my friend's daughter.
"At least it's not as bad as it used to be," sighed the friend who threatened to end up kissing a too-closely-following salesperson.
"No, it is bad!" I jumped in, "When it happens to you, even if it only happens once in a while, or once a year, or once every few years, even if it only happens once, it's bad! It's wrong!" I ranted on, telling my friends that I was so sorry, that I felt so badly that they still had to put up with that kind of thing.
My first friend smiled at me. "You've evolved", she said.
When I asked her what she meant she reminded that when she first me me years ago and talked about the kind of treatment she and her husband sometimes received in public places I'd been incredulous. I just couldn't believe that that sort of subtle racism was still alive and well and thriving in and around Columbus, Ohio.
"But now you believe it," my friend said.
Yes, now, sadly, I believe it.