Once upon a time in 2008 (or 2009?), I was sitting down in a Starbucks, crocheting some items. While in the middle of sipping, crafting, and minding my own business, I notice a mid-late 50s white woman and a little girl who might have been 6 or 7. They’re whispering to each other and looking at me while standing less than 5 feet away. I’m just sitting there like,
The woman finally comes a bit closer and asks, “ARE YOU FROM THE STATES?”
I was expecting to hear something about hr learning how to crochet, but not keeping up, or that she was teaching (who I assumed was) her granddaughter. And she asked in a tone and volume that told me that she thought I was from another country and didn’t know enough English to have a conversation with her.
I’m thinking quickly. I can’t be super rude because there’s a child here, “angry Black woman”, I’m in a Starbucks in a somewhat affluent Philly suburb, etc. I would’ve been cuffed and dragged in no time.
I kindly tell her that I am, that I was born here.
“Oh, well it’s just that I spent a year in Africa as a missionary. The women there used to do the craft work you’re doing. Since I spent time there, I can tell who’s African now.”
Now y’all. I just…..she was so serious. I think I just nodded and put my head back down. What do I even say to that?!? I ended up heading down to the yarn shop I worked at, and told the crew.
C was especially hilarious:
Were you dressed in your traditional dashiki?!? You know what? You should’ve told her you’re Norwegian.
No heavy message behind this, just a funny (and also sad) story I remembered as of late about dense people with privilege.