by Mical Asefaw
Bus came. I got on this morning. Passed by a Latina woman getting off with her baby in the stroller. I sat. Looked at my cell to pay for the fare with my app. Before I could look up, I hear a 60-something, white man say,
“Mam, it’s the law.”
“I have the right to let her know she is obstructing passengers…”
I look around and don’t see anyone engage. Maybe another mental health case?
“Mam… I said, I know the law and I’ve been to Muni town hall meetings. I have the right to tell her to get off or call the police…”
“Mam… she was breaking the law lifting up the wheelchair accessible seats for that stroller. Her stroller is an obstruction for passengers!..”
I notice a young, redhead mom with a bouncy, blond-haired, blue-eyed baby on her lap sitting across from me.
I smile a mommy smile. She smiles back.
The man starts up again, “Mam…”
Snapping out of her smile, the redhead looks at him with rage in her eyes and with a voice as fiery as her hair, she belts out,
“She is a mother! There is a baby in THAT stroller!..”
“No! You had NO RIGHT to tell that woman anything! You would have NEVER said that to a white woman. YOU WOULD HAVE NEVER SAID THAT IF SHE WERE WHITE… AND YOU KNOW IT.
“I’m done talking to you.”
Absolute quiet on the bus.
Bewildered at what I just heard, I looked at her and him. She faces me.
Reminiscent of BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, and all the trigger-happy 911callers in my life, I felt deeply saddened that the Latina sister got off the bus with her baby because of this man.
I look at the redheaded Mama and see that she is deeply disrupted, shaking, and disgusted at his conduct. With her rapid, shallow breathing, and while clutching that happy baby in her arms, she had the guts to name what that man did and denounce her participation in the white privilege of looking away. Caught, he could not explain away his actions called out by a fellow Caucasian.
Thinking about the Latina Mama and her baby in the stroller, my blood boils. But I quickly decide to turn from hating that man to showing love to the redheaded woman. I said,
“Is this what we’re dealing with today, Mama?”
With the sadness in her voice, “Yes.”
“Take a deep breath.”
She breathes and says,
I look at him, and turned back to her,
“I need to take one, too.”
“Yes. Let’s breathe together.”
“I got your back, Mama. Thank you for saying something.”
With tears in her eyes, her heart still pounding, and passengers watching, the redheaded woman and her bouncy, blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby, get off the bus.
Today I saw what makes America so backwards meet what makes America so Great. Delusion get hit with the truth. White privilege single-handedly dismantled in real-time.
To the redheaded Warrior-Mama:
thank you for realizing that putting up your Dr. King poster in February is not enough and for being about it in your daily walk.
For making the effort to shake off the white privilege you carry without your say so. May your son remember this moment and follow your efforts.
To raising the next generation of conscious white children who will denounce the white privilege they are birthed into, and by doing so, one day, help permanently dismantle the weak foundation racism stands on.
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