A few days ago, at Starbucks, the barista who served H and me was sweet and beautiful and kind, and she took our orders (tea for me, coffee for H) and then said, without blinking, “It’s on me.” At first, it didn’t register. H and I kept talking about snowman cookies and cake pops and I held out my gold card, waiting for the barista to ring us up.
“It’s on me,” she said again. H and I looked at each other, and then we looked at her. “Are you serious?” I asked. She was. She was serious. And I thought to myself, “Do white people get treated like this all the time?”
Yes. That’s exactly what I thought.
Ever since President Obama won re-election earlier this month, I’ve been having the most interesting and confusing thoughts. The fact that the President won re-election seems bigger to me than when he was first elected four years ago. I was talking about this to a guy I met today. It was the first time I’d told this story to anyone. I told the guy how the election this year feels more significant than the one four years ago, and he said, “Yeah. It feels like it wasn’t a fluke.”
This guy had been telling me about his uncle, who’s afraid of what it will be like when the demographics in this country switch and the majority race isn’t white anymore, and how his uncle is afraid of what that will mean for him. What will it be like not to be part of the majority anymore?
So, I told this guy about my experience at Starbucks and how it kind of shook me to my core because I realized that all I’ve ever known is what it’s like to be in the minority. When the demographics switch, the whole thing will be new for everyone and, while I know white people don’t get free Starbucks everyday while the rest of us foot the bill (right?), I do know there’s a difference in America between living as part of the majority and living as part of the group that’s not.
I really don’t want to get into a discussion about whether President Obama should have won or not. I don’t want to dredge up all the ugly that has been this election year. I’m just noticing that things are changing and if there is one thing I’ve learned over the past seven years about change, I’ve learned it means everyone has to give up something, and I’m wondering how we all feel about that?
*I was a little bit sad when the 31 Days In My Brown Skin Series ended. I’m not trying to recreate it, but now I feel as if I can share these thoughts with you; they’re part of me, and not isolated to 31 days in October. So, from time to time, I’ll write about it. This is one of those times.