Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

In some places in this country, there aren't separate water fountains anymore, but people still make racist remarks in the comfort of their own homes. I live in such a place. It’s a small town in NC where “everyone has a right to their opinion” and nice girls keep their opinions to themselves. This is how the bigots operate. Anyone who calls them out on their bigotry is shamed somehow for speaking out.

One day, my mom saw a post from my friend Dominic’s mom on Facebook about a friend of hers who was discriminated against by a children’s museum. My friend Dominic had played at that museum when he was a little boy. My mom knew exactly how to get the story out on social media, and I helped her. We must have sent out 100 messages that first day. Before we knew it, we had over a thousand signatures on the petition asking the museum to stop discriminating. As the word continued to spread, I saw a letter some boys my age from Jacksonville had written asking the museum to stop their discrimination. That’s when I decided I wanted to deliver the petition to the museum during the demonstration planned for June 22nd. I thought since it was a children’s museum that children had to be involved.

We had fun times at the demonstration. I have no idea how many people there were gay and how many were straight. I know they were all equally concerned with me drinking water and not getting sunburned. We waved, cheered, and held up signs. When cars honked at us, we cheered louder. We cheered extra loud when a lady decided not to visit the museum after finding out why we were out there. As it started to rain, we went to the restaurant next door. Several people spoke about human rights and about things we can do to stop this kind of discrimination from happening. Then it was time. I had my friend Dominic right behind me, the petition in hand, and just…started…walking.

What did I think was going to happen when I went to deliver the petition? I thought I was going hand the petition to the director, say thank you, and then turn and walk away. But a woman at the door stopped me. She proceeded to tell me I was not allowed to go inside and that we were trespassing. I handed her the petition, thanked her, and walked away. The reality of what happened wasn’t that much different than what I imagined. The difference was this woman made it a point to call me a trespasser. Later, I learned someone connected with the museum called the police because we were there. Shame on us, I guess. I have news for them. I’m not ashamed of what I did.

What did I learn on my summer vacation? I learned that some people really like it when nice girls don’t keep their opinions to themselves. I learned that other people will go to great lengths to defend their right to be bigots. I learned in some places in this country, a child can’t walk into a children’s museum.

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