Doing the right thing, even if it’s scary as shit.
What I love about these two women, (even tho I hate this story for several reasons), is that actions like this are built into their characters. There was no option to ignore the situation.
A Birthday Story – My sister’s
My birthday was no vacation from the reality of the horribly, dangerously racist world we live in. As Jenn and I left a lovely dinner at a new Philly restaurant, we rounded the corner onto Walnut between 13th and Juniper, and saw a tall white man furiously yelling racist abuse at a black woman with her daughter, an adorable little girl who could be no more than 8.
“You f–king n—-r bitch! Yeah, that’s right, I called you a bitch, you f–king n—-r!”
The little girl was crying, terrified, holding onto her mother who was torn between protecting her daughter and wanting to confront this racist bastard. “I’m walking with my daughter here!” she yelled at the man.
Jenn and I ran over and put ourselves between this horrible man and the mother with her child. Jenn yelled out, “what the f–k is wrong with you? You can’t talk to her like that, who the f–k do you think you are?” A white homeless man came up and yelled at the dude, “get the hell out of here, you can’t talk to this lady like that!”
The mother started looking in her purse for mace, saying “I’m just trying to get my daughter something to eat, my boyfriend’s getting her a snack, if he were here, this never would have happened.” Her daughter was crying and begging her, “no Mama! You told me we’re supposed to just walk away! He could have a gun! He might kill us!”
Jenn told the little girl, “he’s not going to hurt you, we’re staying right here and we’re gonna make sure he can’t hurt you. We’re not going anywhere.” The homeless man yelled at the racist asshole again, “get the hell outta here man!”
The asshole looked at all of us, looked angry still but uncertain, and then backed away to the other side of the street, paced for a bit and then disappeared down Juniper.
We tried to come up with something helpful to say. What is there to say? “We are so sorry this happened to you, we wish we could do something more. We’ll stay right here with you til your boyfriend gets back and you feel safe.” I gave her my name and email, told her I was an attorney and if she needed anything to get in touch. The mother asked Jenn, “is that your wife? She’s a good woman.”
The boyfriend came back, the mother told us they’d be ok. We told them we were so sorry again that this happened and to get in touch if they needed anything.
In case anyone sees this guy, he is about 6′, thin, reddish short hair, reddish scruff, blue eyes, backwards gray and white baseball cap, sleeveless bright purple shirt, shorts, sneakers, ruddy pale complexion.
We need to form an anti-racism patrol in this city. In this everywhere. It is unacceptable that this happens, but it is untenable that it happens if there is nobody there to intervene other than those being attacked.
For my birthday, I’d love to make a grand wish that won’t possibly come true, but instead I will beg you to join me in donating whatever you can to Black Lives Matter: Philadelphia
I felt the mom’s desire to be violent hearing that story.My sister and my sister-not-in-law did a great job de-escalating. One for all of us to grow on, and one I will do my best to teach my little one.
Update two days after:
Update from that incident on my birthday, I received the following extremely kind email from the mother last night, and wanted to share to affirm how important it is to be demonstrable allies, and to help people IRL. We haven’t saved the world or fixed racism for these folks, but it is relieving to know that they will remember something other than that horrible man from that night:
“Good evening, I hope you are doing well. My name is [ ], the woman that you and your wife met last night. I am reaching out to you regarding your kind and generous act last night during the conflict between myself and that random man. My daughter and I just wanted to thank you for your kindness and that we will forever remember that night. Best wishes, [mother and daughter]”