Then, the man standing near the window started talking to us, white to white, about how rude a culture she, and those like her, come from. Now, she had offered for us to go first, she had been perfectly pleasant, but he focused on the fact that, get this, the next person in line got on next. I despised that he thought to bring us in to that kind of causal and intentional racism. Ruby was looking at him and then us, it was like she knew that something would happen.
I took a breath, to calm down and to steady my voice, and said, “I don’t think that’s true, I find rude people in every culture, true, but mostly I meet wonderful and friendly people everywhere.” He looked up, startled that his racist assumption had been disagreed with. He started mumbling about her ‘culture of rudeness’ and I then asked him to stop. Joe and I can deal with his bigotry but we don’t want Ruby hearing it. The world needs to be a safe place to grow up with an inclusive soul. It isn’t, so that’s our job to make it so.
We got on the elevator and talked about what the man had said. We talked about how it was wrong and how, when it is safe to, it’s important to speak up and say that you don’t think that way.
Being disabled has taught me that the enemy has many names, homophobia, sexism, racism, transphobia, ableism, but they spring from the same foul water – bigotry. And if we’re gonna win, we need to speak up even when we are not the target. Because, you realize, we, in the most inclusive sense of we, always are.