The Day I Looked Ignorance In the Face…

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“Oh, that’s a shame,” he said, as the energy in the room changed.
As if the prior ten minutes of good, deep conversation and laughter hadn’t even existed.
As if the ring, my cuteness, my personality – all the things he had just fawned over – were suddenly voided.
“Oh… that’s a shame,” he repeated, the troubled look on his face beginning to scare me. “So, what happened? Do you hate men?”
He took a step closer, almost menacingly, as I continued to sit in my computer chair, the tears started welling up in my eyes.
“Obviously, I don’t. I don’t have a problem with anybody”… ‘except ignorant shits like you,’ I finished the height in my mind as he continues to berate me with questions about why, why, WHHYYYY I would be in a relationship with another woman.
“But you’re so beautiful?”
“Yeah, my girlfriend thinks so, too. She even bought this to prove it,” I said, holding up my left hand, “And you just had plenty of nice things to say about it.”
I stood up, tried to look brave in the face of such malignancy on knees made of Jello.
Everything this old man knew fifteen minutes earlier was called into question. It was written all over his face.
Meanwhile, hot tears stung the backs of my eyes.
His energy was confusing and scary.
But, it was disappointing and saddening. Even he, a black man, couldn’t see past another person’s labels and enjoy them for who they are. Maybe it was his age. Maybe it was location. Whatever the cause, he was too blinded by his prejudice to SEE me.
All the air had been sucked out of the room. Seconds turned to minutes.
“That’s a shame…” There it was again.
My hands balled into fists. One year managed to squeeze itself onto my cheek.
“Stop calling me ‘a shame’,” I said darkly, my hurt turning to a white-hot anger as it has always so-faithfully done. “I can guarantee you that I am not a shame.”
’29 years old & I have the same job as you, d00d,’ I thought as I looked around the college’s faculty workroom for an out.
He was just standing there, incredulous, waiting for – I dunno what – divine inspiration, the lightbulb moment, me to change my mind or bring out the candid cameras? The cognitive dissonance was REAL, even laughable in retrospect.
“I think the shame is how small your view of the world is…”
And the workroom door flew open as the Ozarka guy backed into it hauling a dolly loaded with replacement jugs.
The denseness of the air dissipated.
An odd silence fell over the room for a beat.
“Here, I can hold that door,” I said, and the tension broke apart as we commiserated about the precarious nature of dollies.
As he swiftly opened the jug and swung it into the dispenser, I gathered my things and went to my car (where I proceeded to burst into tears – just perfect before you have to stand in front of a bunch of kids -__-).
That old professor guy never spoke to me again, even ignored me once when we passed each other in the hall.

This pops into my head weekly. It hurt my heart so much. And it didn’t help that there were other unhealed hurts made by family & people whose opinions had actually mattered to me.
Who I love has nothing to do with you, or with who I am for that matter! These labels are damaging because they allow us to treat each other differently without consideration for humanity.
These people who feel part of a majority are empowered by their strength in numbers; & forget that not all of us subscribe to that same channel. And, merely being part of the majority – whether that’s a sexual preference group, religious group, political group, WHATEVER – does not automatically mean you’re right. And it’s certainly not justification to belittle, demean, or outright hurt others.
I seem wrong to you? You seem just as wrong to me. Where do we go from here?
So, hey, let’s not be such pricks to each other.