I am an undercover mother.
Let me explain. I am a white woman raising four wonderful, multiracial (Black and Caucasian) children and I have had some interesting experiences. To further explain the totality of my disguise, I stand 5’ 1”; have blonde hair, green eyes, and a face that resorts to a smile in most tense situations.
As an Air Force family, we have lived all over the United States. This has given me some diverse snapshots of attitudes about race, since I am treated very differently depending upon whether I have my kids with me. Although I have many stories to tell, I am writing this post to describe what happened at a local store.
Shortly after we relocated to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, I took the kids to school and the babysitter went to drop off film and shop at the local mega-mart. They had a one-hour photo guarantee, and that is about as long as I allow myself in any store! After dropping the kids off at school, I shopped, returned to pick up my photos, shopped at bit more, took the photos along with the rest of my cart, and checked out and thought no more about it.
A week later, on a non-babysitter day, I had more film and shopping to do. The first part of the day was the same; drop-off film, shop, etc. I returned to the photo shop, with my two littlest angels in the cart, to pick up my film. I was met with a tight smile, and a halting explanation that the “store policy” was that I had to pay at the photo shop. Hmmm.
I asked the salesperson if this was a new policy, and was told that it was not. I mentioned that I’d been to the store the week before and paid for everything at once up front. Crickets chirped in my mind as I waited for the clerk to process this information. The stammering and stuttering that followed told me that I’d caught him in a subtle type of racism. There wasn’t any good reason for him to decide to apply this rule. He’d glanced at me and my children and made up his mind about who I was and what I was and he didn’t like or trust what he saw.
I asked for the manager.
The manager reiterated the “policy.” I told my story, and mentioned that a policy is not a policy if it doesn’t apply to all. I asked why this intermittent policy had been applied to my purchase, and was told that the store’s experience with ‘some’ people, blah, blah, blah. If you’re reading this, you probably know the excuses. It was a stare down, and a show down, but I think I opened some minds. I do know that the outcome was not the Hollywood version, because the policy was enforced so that EVERYONE had to pay at the photo shop. Ideally, the store would trust their customers, but I’ll settle for equal treatment.
Julie Cuzick, The Undercover Mother, is a new contributor with us, learn more about her HERE!