About 7 p.m. Friday August 3rd, I was with my husband and mother-in-law at your 7130 North Durango Drive location in Las Vegas, Nevada. I went to a checkout lane where the cashier and her African American customer appeared to be bantering in a socially acceptable but congenial manner. The customer was a casually dressed, mid to late thirties cleancut man.
The woman, and this is really important because it goes to why I’m writing this letter, was 50s-ish, 10 or 15 years younger than I am; and though the platinum bouffant was a bit much, she was in a little better shape than many women are at her age. She was old enough to have grown children and young enough to have teenagers if, given the American marriage statistics, she’d been married enough times. She was really assertive for a grocery store cashier and seemed somewhat clever.
As she gave the young man his change receipt, the auburn haired cashier she’d apparently been relieving came back from her break. This cashier was pleasant but too haggard for her age, probably mid-40s. She also was old enough to have teenagers but one can only hope that prematurely aged as she seemed, she didn’t have grown children.
As I waited for the cashier transition to be completed I was thinking about how lucky I’d been to be a legal professional in decent-paying jobs for 35 years where one of the perks is a level of social status no grocery store clerk could achieve unless she owned the grocery.
So when the blonde cashier made a jungle bunny joke to the previous customer that clearly shook him up after she’d been so friendly and seemed to embarrass the haggard redhead, I was feeling sorry for those two women who were younger than I am, had low status level jobs and, if they had children, especially adolescents, probably struggled every day of their (probably) disappointing lives.
Soon, the blonde was brandishing a big set of keys, which indicated she was probably a low level supervisor and the redhead was laughing nervously at the jungle reference, probably because she obviously was not the supervisor.
In Carson McCullers’ novel, TO KILL A MOVKINGBIRD, the black man falsely accused of rape by a poor white girl shocks the courtroom by saying he often performed chores for her because, “I felt sorry for her.”
It’s probably clear by now that I believe I got a better deal out of life than those two younger than I am white women. I would bet a week of happiness that most people who commit racial harassment act out for reasons that have nothing to do with race. I also believe most people will not stop acting out in a racist way in the workplace unless they are told by management that they can’t and that is why I am writing this letter.
Nothing can be done about the kinds of disappointments and frustrations of middle aged women (very often divorced with children) in low status jobs until there is equity throughout our society.
#racism #statusofwomen #genderequity #socialclasses