• Seema

bartending

I interviewed a Conservative, Caucasian, cis Male in his early 60s, living in the West. Here were some of the experiences he shared:

Years ago, 20-25 years ago, I worked in the restaurant business and I tended bar. I worked for a very high class restaurant. Every Friday night, the place had two bars, dance floor, DJ, the whole thing. It was predominantly African American with gangster rap being played every night. The entire bar staff was white. I didn't make it a year because I just couldn't take it anymore. We had shots fired in the parking lot, we had people being attacked, we had police there all the time. And every white racial slur you can get, I got my life threatened.... I started to feel -- I'm a human being -- when I would be on a day off with my kids and I would see an African American, my fur would go up. Because I was so threatened and pushed at every week. It was slam bang 12 hours of hard bartending working my butt off, and I was being threatened and treated that way every single week. I couldn't take it anymore. I quit bartending. I just had enough...The way I was starting to feel towards Black people. I said "that's not me." It's only a natural reaction when you're threatened and because of who I was, because of the color of my skin and not the person I was.


Part of our management training for my current position we had to go through a two-day diversity workshop. I learned volumes about diversity and the importance of it... One of the things that stood out is a saying, "I don't have to be one of to stand with." We can stand together... They had easels with white paper, they had five or six of them up. They had us spend about 10-15 minutes writing every ethnic slur you could think of and when it was all done, they had us repeat every word - it was hard. Then they had us go up and tear those papers to shreds. The physicality of doing that. It registered with me. There were tears shed in that workshop. It was one of the greatest things I had ever been through.

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