Responding to racism

My problem is that when confronted by something that takes me completely by surprise, I can’t always guarantee that I will respond in a way that I am proud of. Take this morning for example.

I needed some protein after my workout and so I went to McDonald’s to get their Deluxe Big Breakfast (I know, I know, it’s McDonald’s, but at the time it was my only choice!) Pancakes, eggs, sausage, biscuits, hash browns, etc. I made my way back to the office. Another man, who also had been to McDonald’s was waiting for the elevator.

“Going to have to learn Spanish,” he said to me.

“Uh, why?” I asked.

He nodded toward my McDonald’s bag. “That’s all they speak at McDonald’s these days.”

I was rather taken aback by this and all that I could say was, “Well, I speak enough Spanish to get by.” We then had to share an elevator.

What I should have said was something like, “Hey man, that’s not cool.” Or, “that’s pretty stereotypical, don’t you think?” Granted, the people at this particular McDonald’s speak Spanish, they also speak English. It seems to me that people who complain about other people speaking another language in front of them (Spanish or any language) are feeling left out and therefore are hypersensitive to their lack of understanding. Rather than complain about it, learn the freakin’ language! Spanish is not difficult to learn. And by doing so you have an advantage: you now speak more than one language.

Of course, I didn’t say any of that. I can only hope I’ll be better prepared the next time it happens.