I was called a racist on Saturday night.
The “incident” occurred at my place of employment. We have a policy that if a kid is under a certain age than they are not permitted to trade in any game without their parents consent. It is a fair policy, one that encourages parental involvement with their child’s hobby. The kid that came into the store on Saturday night had to be between the ages of 10-12 years old. He was a little African American kid. To be perfectly blunt, his color has nothing to do with our policy. We put forth the policy because we’ve had a number of parents complain that their child traded a game that they had no permission trading. Nine out of ten times, the children that got in trouble and the parents that we had to deal with have been white. Now that I have set up a pretty good understanding of the scenario, allow me to go into the details of what happened.
The kid came in the store at roughly 1830. He wanted to trade a game. I told him that it wouldn’t be a problem; however, he would need to call his parents, get a signed letter, or have his parents come in with him. The kid took issue to this and exclaimed that their phone didn’t work. I told him that a note would suffice. A few minutes later kid returns with a note. Now, if anyone of you has ever written a note in place of your parents, you know what a kids hand writing looks like. The kid “forged” his own note. I told him this would not be accepted because there was no parental signature. The kid left and came back. This time he stood more defiant. He asked to know exactly what kind of store this was. I was a bit taken back by the question. I wasn’t sure what he had meant. After explaining to him once again about our company policy, and explaining to him that we are only doing this for the benefit of you and your parents, he left. However, before he left he made a point to call me a racist. I stood there in a state of complete shock. A 10-12 year old kid just called me a racist. At this point, a few thoughts went through my head.
My first thought was that the ideas of white racism have been socialized into this kid. I certainly hope that this young child has not experienced any real racism. Inevitably, he will; though, I hope it would not occur at such a young age. Does this kid really understand the idea of racism? Is it his belief that if a white person in a position of “authority” refuses to help him that they are being racist? If so, that is a hard line of thinking to break. I explained to the kid that we are not trying to give him a hard time. We simply need his parents’ permission because he is under the age of 16. This kid is evidence that the roots of socialization run DEEP into our very psyche. I hope this kid comes back into the store under better circumstances. I would want him to know through my actions, not my patronizing words, that his conception of racism is wrong or misplaced.