We didn’t like the Fort Bragg, California restaurant as much as we expected to like it, but the food was pretty good. We agreed to look at the dessert menu, and as I always do when we travel, I photographed the menu.
The server asked me with a smile, “You’re not spying, right?” to which I replied, smiling, “No! I promise. I’m just a tourist.” He then proceeded to explain that he and his wife own a store in town, and sometimes go to conventions. He said that other vendors get upset when they photograph their booths, worried about industrial espionage. Then he added, in a deeply disgusted tone, “It’s the little Jews that always get the most upset.”
Needless to say, at that point it was clear we were not going to stay for dessert. We asked the server for the check. When he returned with the check, he suddenly asked my youngest daughter what language she was speaking, to which she proudly replied, “HEBREW!”
He SEEMED mortified, but who knows – many people don’t make the connection between Hebrew and Jews – we’ve had several people in the past ask us what language we spoke, and when we said Hebrew, they asked, “Where is that from?”
Or maybe he didn’t care. Regardless, we got out of there as fast as we could.
I’ve been in the US for eleven years now. This is the first time I’ve encountered such blatant racism. I don’t know, maybe I’m naive, maybe people THINK it but don’t allow themselves to SAY it. But I was stunned. Being on the receiving side of racism feels horrible. How helpless you are when you realize that you’ve already been labeled and judged – that you’re deemed inferior, but not because of something you’ve done or something that you have any control over.
I always knew that racism was ugly. But now that I’ve encountered it personally, it’s become clearer than ever that hating someone because of something that’s completely out of their control, such as their race, gender, or the color of their skin, is not just narrow minded and stupid. It’s also extremely dangerous.
Photo via PhotoBucket