I heard a story today that made me very sad and angry. I wish it was fiction, but it's not. I wish I could fix it, but I don't think I can.
A bunch of moms from our school got together for breakfast and one of them was new to the group. She moved to American from Jamaica with her husband. She's originally from the US; he's Jamaican. He didn't read, write or speak English when they moved here, but he learned enough so he could get a job, and pass a driver's test. He was was embracing his new life in America.
Seven years has passed since they moved here, and he's now tired, depressed and angry because of how he's been treated. He worked at a sandwich shop in a nearby college town. The other employees chewed food and spit it on his car. He changed employers and now works as a prep cook in restaurant in the same town. For awhile, things went well there. But the manager left, and the new manager started making him clean the bathrooms all the time and clean up after other employees. Luckily, he has a second job in a popular chain cafe where he is treated kindly and fairly. A local state trooper pulled him over several times, but never ticketed him. Why? Because he wasn't doing anything wrong; he was just being harassed. Those are probably just a small number of the acts of racism that have beaten him down over the years.
Vermont is a 97% white state, but I thought we were more progressive, tolerant and accepting than that. I guess I had my head buried in the sand. I don't understand how people can be so mean because someone looks different or practices a different religion. If someone lives in your community, pays their bills, doesn't commit crimes and works hard, can't we just leave them alone? I'm not saying everyone has to love each other, but a little civility doesn't seem like too much to ask.
If I had to say what Vermont is lacking, it would be diversity, mainly because I'd like Pipsqueak to be acquainted with people from all over the world. We can travel and see them, but it's not the same as having them in your community and interacting with them. She's learned about slavery and Martin Luther King in school, and we've talked about racism at home. She's disgusted by someone being treated unfairly because of the color of their skin. After what I heard today and they way I feel about it, I'm sure I wouldn't have had the stomach to watch what happened in the 60s.