You are a teen in Albany, GA, and it’s lunchtime. You’re hungry; you’re with your friends, and you want to hang out and get some good food. Where do you go? To the Arctic Bear, of course. As you’ve done before, you go to the window and order your burger, fries, and drink.
You really don’t enjoy eating your food in the car, so you talk your friends into sitting at the outdoor tables on this particular day. “Those tables aren’t for us; you know that!” your friend informs you. But you tell her that you don’t know that. There are no signs saying that. So, the three of you sit down and begin to eat.
People are staring.
A limousine drives by slowly, and it circles the block. Twice.
The limo stops, and the chauffeur gets out, goes into the Arctic Bear, and comes back out with the manager. The manager has a conversation with someone in the limo. The limo drives off, and the manager comes to speak with you and your friends.
“I’m sorry,” he says, “but you are going to have to leave. I appreciate your business, but I don’t get enough of it to displease my regular customers.”
“OK.” you say. But you continue to eat. “We’ll leave when we finish eating,” you tell your friends.
This is one of the many stories told to me by Annette Jones White in my interview on October 6. During the next weeks I’ll be sharing others as I’m able to get them into writing.
At what point in this little vignette did you realize that this was a story of racial discrimination? If you didn’t see this in the story, why did you think the storyteller was being asked to leave the establishment? What would you have done if you had been in the storyteller’s shoes? What risks do you think she was taking, both to sit down in the first place, and to stay and finish her meal? Would you have done the same thing in her situation?