the bigot in me

Today I want to talk about a real jerk.  And she is me.

I was a big bigot today and I am ashamed of myself for it.

I had to pick our pooch, Mae Mae, up from ACL surgery today–otherwise I would not have been on the roads.  Anyhow, I decided to stop at Hannaford to grab a few storm essentials.

I approached the checkout and started unloading my groceries onto the  belt.  The cashier didn’t look at me.  She did not speak to me when I said hello.  And she did not smile.

The entire transaction went on like this.

I went out to my car and was thinking how rude this woman was.  Right?

And then my stomach sunk.

Holy shit, I have spent a long time saying that I don’t care if Evie ever speaks, that I don’t care if she ever looks another person in the eye, and that other people better just get over it if they have a problem with the way that she relates to other people.

And all that is true.

When it comes to Evie.  And people that I know are Autistic.

What if that cashier is Autistic?  I don’t know whether she is or she isn’t.  And it doesn’t matter.  Because I expected, of her, every single thing that I say shouldn’t be expected of Evie.

And I could rail against the injustice of disabled persons not having equal employment opportunities (and the accommodations to make that possible) for hours.  What if I would have hopped on over to customer service and complained about being treated “rudely”?  And say, one in every fifty people that this cashier checked out did the same?

How long would she have her job?

I have a deep rooted sense of social entitlement that I never, for a second, thought that I had.  I take my sense of entitlement to be related to in a way that makes me feel most comfortable to a lot of places, now that I think about it.  I would walk on hot coals with my face to relate to my daughter.  But I don’t extend even a fraction of that civility to everyone.

And I wonder, while I have been busy congratulating myself for being all evolved and progressive and utterly without bias, what other things I have missed along the way–am still missing.

This is the problem.  I am the problem.



6 thoughts on “the bigot in me

  1. Dear friend, the fact that you see these things and ask yourself these questions means you are not the problem. The problem is all the people who don’t notice these things, who refuse to listen when people like you point them out, who choose to go on in ignorance of who might be hurting, who might need their understanding, who might struggle — and how those struggles might be obscured by societal assumptions and expectations.

    In a world of those who go through life slumbering, you are awake. Waking up is not always pleasant, and being awake can be tiring. It is so easy to sleep and so hard to get out of bed and greet a day that is never perfect and is filled with so much work that needs to be done.

    You are not the problem. You are definitely out there with pick and shovel in hand, unearthing the solutions. It’s just that as we dig, we often find some of our culture’s debris has fallen over on top of us and we’re digging *ourselves* out from under, along with the rest of society. You may have just noticed a shovelful that needs tending to, but you were already holding the shovel when you saw it, which makes you part of the solution.

  2. What Sparrow said. You are a giant part of the actual solution. There are very important people in the field of Disability Studies, who, as a profession, write amazing analyses on the topic of how not to be a bigot toward people with disabilities; yet when they are glaringly ableist toward actual known-to-be-disabled colleagues in academia–and, yes, they are–it seems to be completely invisible to them *even after it is pointed out by ourselves and others*. I say this just to highlight and underline the magnificence of the gift you have, the gift of honest self-appraisal. It is rare and beautiful and powerful. It is what makes your love a force instead of merely an affective state.

  3. What you did that day was just as problematic as you think it was, but the fact that you are thinking about it and realizing it and changing means much more than the mistakes you make. Like Sparrow said, you have the shovel and are digging. You have to dig that bit of your own out, but you’re digging, and that matters. It means you are part of the solution for your piece of the problem, and we all have our pieces.

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