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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's time.

Today I went to the store to buy a few household items and get some more fall decorations for my house. Anyone who knows me knows that Halloween is my favorite holiday and fall is my favorite time of year. So as I loaded my cart with pumpkin-scented candles and a sparkly spiderweb that I'm going to use for a wreath (and Coke Zero, since we're being honest), I was in a pretty good mood. You know, one of those really good moods where it's hard to come back to reality.

But luckily, there was a rude, hostile customer to help me out with that. This woman was not only rude, but she was racist and rude. She was so distressed that there were three people ahead of her in line that she started that passive-aggressive, griping customer talk to no one in general.

"Oh my god, this place has really gone downhill. I can't believe that there's only one checkout lane open."

And the cashier did exactly what I would've done if this lady was at my workplace. She ignored her rather than call her a racist bitch to her face.

The lady didn't like that. She decided to go a step further and say: "Maybe you didn't understand me because I didn't speak Spanish, you Mexican piece of shit. I wonder what happened to that nice white lady who used to be the cashier here."

OK, so then I might have called her a racist bitch, but I don't think she heard me over her passive-aggressive, asshole customer routine.

I thought the cashier (who may or may not have been Hispanic; she did speak English with an accent I couldn't quite discern. I actually thought she was Middle Eastern) was going to cry. She quietly left the register and went outside and told whoever the girl was on her break to come back in and help her. When she came back in and turned the other girl's light on, bitch lady said thank you in a way that let you know she was not really thankful.

As I was loading up my car, I see bitch lady come out and get into a car that was broken down in the parking lot. From its temporary tags, she appears to have acquired it five days ago.

She really should have not created all that extra bad karma for herself.

After I got over my amusement at her new-to-her car being broken down, I got really upset. This is the second day in a row that I have experienced racism in the neighborhood where I work (yesterday I read some disturbingly racist comments on a neighborhood Internet forum created by the area's city councilman). All of a sudden, this is not really a place I want to be. This is a neighborhood that is allowing its hatred of the "new kids in town" to stifle its growth as a community. And it's just mean and ugly. I don't care what your perceived grievance is, no one deserves to be called a "Mexican piece of shit."

And as I usually do when people are ugly and racist toward Latinos, I thought of my own family.

I worry so much for my nephew, my sister-in-law and my Mexican family in Florida. They are all American citizens, and they contribute to society. (Not that mistreating them would be OK if they didn't.) People here in the United States see brown skin and hair and hear words that aren't in English, and they flip out. They assume you're illegal; and they assume you are a drain on society.

I told someone yesterday that I know more Asians and Europeans who are here illegally than I do Hispanics. But it's only the ones who look different who are getting persecuted. Adam told us one time that he was asked for his "papers" one day while he was fishing. This is an American citizen, folks. Who was asked to prove he was an American citizen while he was fishing. How many times has that happened to any of you?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Our immigration system is broken. Only a minute number of people are able to come here legally each year. I just read an article today about students coming here on student visas and being forced to work in awful conditions in factories and not even getting to go to school. Our citizens are being harrassed. A record number of people were deported this year, even though there are very few legal paths to citizenship. People think it's OK to call someone a "Mexican piece of shit" because they had to wait in line at the store for a few minutes.

Our country is an ugly place these days. It worries me to death what kind of life my precious nephew will have here because he has brown skin and speaks Spanish. I don't want him to lose his culture, and I don't want him to ever be called a "Mexican piece of shit." It is breaking my heart just thinking about it.

My mom always says, "Unless your grandpa was named Cochise or Geronimo, you need to be for immigration reform, and you need to not bitch about people who come to our country for a better life, 'illegal' or not."

I think that's good advice here. We all have a stake in making our country a better place for everyone who lives here. We all have a stake for providing more safe, legal avenues for people to become citizens of our country.

Very few of us are truly natives here. Your family didn't get deported by the sheer grace of God, and now it's time to pay it forward. It's time to provide opportunity to the next generation of new Americans.

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