What I’m about to describe is an interaction. Not a confrontation or an incident.
Last year, on vacation with the family at a resort in Florida, I was excited to get in the water after having taken months of swimming lessons. Even though it didn’t require any skills I was stoked to be able to comfortably hop into the lazy river with the whole squad. Making up for lost time in terms of water + recreation. I mean, now that I actually own rash guards and swimming trunks.
Good times. You have to have a wrist band to be in the lazy river section with the cabanas, hammocks, and everything, and you have to have a certain color wristband in order to chill in a reserved section. Since my mom is all about the timeshare quality of life perks, that’s where we were.
But something happened that bothered me and still sticks in my craw.
While we were floating and chilling and relaxing, a little European American boy wading through that part of the lazy river, approached my sister. He was no more than ten or eleven years old, if that.
He said, “Excuse me. You have to have a wristband to be in here.”
Okay, pause. What? What are you doing, kid? At ease. Just enjoy your vacation. Be safe, watch out for alligators, apply sunscreen regularly and enjoy the Sunshine State, buddy.
Reflexively, we both responded, “We have wristbands.”
Pointing to his wristband, he said, “You have to have a yellow wristband.”
My sister said, “Our wristbands are blue.”
He thought about it for a second and then he waded off to join his family, I guess.
When I told my other sister about it later, she just looked at me like, “Bless his heart,” because our wristbands happened to be more exclusive (if you’re into that sort of thing) than his.
It bothered me. For one, this little colonizer was trying to eject my sister, my family, out of the pool. What, in his mind, gave him, a prepubescent child, the confidence and the sense of empowerment to approach at least two adults to say, “You don’t belong in here”?
Look. I don’t like it when people try to get over either, if that’s what it was about. Plus, that kid is just a kid and has plenty of learning from mistakes to do, as do we all. But damn. The audacity.
It was a small interaction. The littlest “show me your papers” of all. It rubbed me the wrong way and raised a lot of questions. I suppose it could have been an intentionally constructive teachable moment if my mind was in the right place, but I was already thrown at that point.
I HATE having to justify my existence and/or presence just because. I’m a fairly chill dude but if you want to piss me off, that’s an effective way to do it.
These stories mentally tally up, and I won’t be blogging a digest of every incident, but here’s the latest.
These incidents are happening regularly. Well, they’re also being video recorded and reported regularly now. I don’t think it’s anything new but — I wonder. Inside social bubbles that I’m not privy to, are people having lively discussions about when to call authorities (and I’m obviously not talking about actual crime, crimes in progress, or imminent felonies)? Early and often? Call 911 first, ask questions later?
It’s depressing to see bigoted outbursts thinly veiled in “pariotism”.
It’s exhausting to see people attempting to use law enforcement as a bludgeon to enforce pettiness.
It’s dehumanizing to have to be the one to swallow your dignity even when you’re in the right.
Come on, America. Be best.