Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Jacket

I hosted a birthday party last night for my 'Little'.   I piled her friends into the minivan and headed to the local roller rink.

After a rough start (locating 14 year old girls who living in various apt. complexes turns out to be harder than it sounds,) we all arrived in the designated party room, ready to have a fabulous evening.

The excitement and laughter were brought quickly to a halt when a manager of the rink rushed over and proceeded to interrogate the birthday girl, claiming that someone who wore the "same color jacket" as she had on caused trouble the previous weekend.  Evidently someone with this same color jacket had started a fight.  Police were called.  She was banned from the rink for 6 months.

The rink management assumed that my little was this troublemaker.  As they accused her of being a criminal, I saw her fold a thousand times over inside herself to the place she goes when this happens.  (And yes, dear white liberal friends....this happens. a lot.)

I intervened, of course.  Explained that this must be a case of mistaken identity.  Explained that the girl they were accusing had never been in a fight in her life.  Explained that they were with me.  Explained that we were there under our BB/BS relationship.  Explained that this was a birthday party.

The rink management quickly backtracked and couldn't have been more gracious.  They explained that she looked a lot like this other girl.  (And again, they mentioned that both girls had the same color jacket.)  They were wonderful hosts for the remainder of the evening.

The jacket in question was light grey.  It was a very stylish jacket - cropped with short puffy sleeves.  My Little hopes for a career in the fashion industry and pays a lot of attention to her clothing.  She may have a very limited budget, but she always looks amazing.

We put it behind us and ended up having a fabulous time.  We rocked that roller rink.

Midway through the party, I noticed her jacket crumpled up and stuffed in the corner of the box that held our shoes.  With every fiber of my being, I wanted to rescue the jacket and go to her and tell her to put it back on and wear it proudly because she is beautiful and young and stylish and awesome.

But I didn't.  I left the jacket crumpled in the shoe box.  I think it may still be there.

Because we both know that this incident wasn't about the color of her jacket.  It was about the color of her skin.

We have a long way to go.


Rachel Donegan said...

How did you keep your composure?? I'm furious and teary just reading it!! So often I feel the world is a place just looking to hurt someone, and often a child and her hopes, dreams, and vision. Ugh!! Makes me so damn mad!!!

Kristen said...

Thanks Rachel. It was definitely a case of unintended consequences of an honest mistake. You, more than anyone I know, understand the complexities of race and poverty and perception. I really wasn't mad. I'm just feeling so very sad.

(Normally I wouldn't even write about this stuff - I'm trying so hard to respect the privacy of my pre-teen and teenage girls...but sometimes writing keeps me from punching the wall, so I write...)