[Image is from PBS.org.]
This story was pulled for a bit today, because I was trying to get to the bottom of a “he said, she said,” and I now have.
The owner gave me a conflicting story, and it doesn’t match with what I’ve been able to ascertain from the police, so I’m running with it.
He suggested that I call the police and talk with the officers, because they heard what was going on in the store, in terms of my son-in-law screaming at him. So I did. I carefully asked the sergeant, “When you arrived, what were they saying inside of the store?” He said, “I didn’t hear anything going on inside of the store, because I arrived after the Anglo man had already left the store. The man also said to me, reminding me of Bill Clinton saying, “I did NOT have sex with that woman!” – he said… “I did NOT say anything to that woman.”
First, let’s remember: Unless you’re Native American, you’ve come from immigrant parents.
Next, much of California belonged to Mexico, before the beginning of the Mexican-American War. Why none of us ever studied that one in American History class is beyond me? And, it would bode well for all of us to have that story inserted into every American history book that’s missing that chapter, especially after hearing this story from one of my daughters.
Distraught, my daughter wrote the following:
My housekeeper asked if she could run to the store and buy a water. I said, “Yes of course.” She was gone for a little longer than I expected, but didn’t think much of it until she came in visibly upset. Heath asked her if she was okay; she said, “Yes,” as she wiped tears away. So we didn’t pry.
Then about 5 minutes later she came to me and said, “Do you think of me in a racial way?” I was a little taken aback, and I said “No, my father is actually Puerto Rican, so I’ve been raised in a racially mixed family.” She said “Well, I just had a bad experience at the food center.” I said, “What?” She said, “Yeah, they first acted as if I wasn’t there, ignored me for quite a while, then the guy said, ‘You didn’t think I was going to serve you did you? You’re not welcome here.” And he wouldn’t sell her the water she wanted to purchase. So I said, “Oh dear! I’ll go buy it for you,.” And I quietly told my husband “Baby, Rita [name changed to protect her identity] came back upset because the food center wouldn’t sell her water because she’s Hispanic!” He said, “That’s bullshit!” and headed straight over to the store.
He went into the store, got some waters and chips, and put them on the counter. The owner’s wife was at the register and he said, “So my housekeeper just tried to buy a water here and was told she could because she’s Hispanic, I’m trying to understand what is going on. She came back to our house crying, you guys owe her an apology. And if that’s the truth you could be shut down for that.” The owners wife said, “I’m not talking about this and you have to leave the store.” And then she called the cops, and said Heath was an irate customer… saying he was going to smash things in the store and he’s screaming. The cops showed up, Heath had already left and was outside the store and said, “Hey guys I guess I’m the irate customer.” He told them what happened and they went into the store to get the owner’s “story.” They ran Heath’s id and of course he’s clean. They asked him where he lived, he said, “Right there,” pointed to our house for the past three years, “and, we just bought a house right across from the police chief.” The cops said, “Well the owners of the store have said they don’t want you to shop here anymore.” He said, “Geeze really? Well that’s fine, but they owe my housekeeper an apology for their racial remarks.” The cops said, “We can’t make them do that.” And that’s how it ended.
I took this to Facebook, because I was at the new house babysitting my new granddaughter while everyone was cleaning the other house, and was told this story when they returned from clean up. So, I wrote the following on Facebook, because it really upset us all:
Jo: From my daughter Melanie… HARD TO BELIEVE: “Don’t try to shop at my neighborhood food center if you’re Hispanic. My housekeeper just went in to buy a bottle if water and was refused service because of her race. She came back to my house upset and asked if I thought of her in a racial way. I said of course not. And she explained what happened. Heath heard and went over to the store to see what was going on. He has now also been banned and they called the cops on him. In this day and age. Unbelievable.”
I had a lot of people just enraged, of course, because my friends are pretty smart people… It’s that simple when you’re on a conscious track for doing what’s right in this world.
Here’s some of the points that developed.
And, let’s remember… Wine country is quite lovely, and it’s been built on the backs of the Hispanic population to be this way… See that map above, people… They were here first and haven’t started asking for reparations, but I really think they should. Native Americans have… Why not the Hispanic population, that have been here since long before we arrived as transplants?
Lorrie wrote to me: Awful!
I wrote back and continued with others:
- First, it made me want to box the owners’ ears… Husband and wife, straight up bigots. I wanted to call the Civil Liberty’s Union. As I was driving to my daughter’s house, Public Radio was asking the question for an upcoming program. “Is it time to retire Affirmative Action?” Are you kidding me. What was in the air that day?
- We still have so far to go as humans. The only paradigm shift I can see is being invaded by Martians. That would make us all pull together pretty quickly. As I recall, Jesus was born in the Middle East. There are going to be some very shocked Christians who believe in heaven and get there to see their God of color.
Nancy: I think most private businesses have the right to withhold service from anyone, but I doubt they could do it simply because of someone’s race, ethnicity or country of origin. She/you could (maybe “should”) check with your state and federal representatives about what could be done. A local TV station might be interested. None of you may ever shop there again but that’s not enough to put a stop to this kind of behavior. I wonder what would happen if you walked in with a large group of people of lots of different colors…let’s say 25 or more people.
Jo: Sounds like a lot of fun, Nancy… but, I wouldn’t want to spend a penny… just the day in protest. That would get the TV station out, huh?
Nancy: I was thinking of just walking in as a group and seeing what happened. I agree, pass the work and don’t spend a penny in there. A little drama to attract the cameras couldn’t hurt, though.
Margo: Hi Jo, The situation in that store can’t be legal (says my lawyer spouse) but certainly a boycott seems in order. Our country has become so polarized and so angry …. again.
Jo: I knew it wasn’t legal, Margo. Our country has allowed this to happen, too. By government officials turning their heads the other way, in order to foster cheap labor, the government has allowed people to cross the borders illegally for years and years and years. Word spread that lazy Americans would rather hold up signs that say, “Will work for food,” while the rest of us just “work for food.” When people lose their jobs, some get on a high horse and aren’t willing to bow to the alter of humility… I know, I had to bow that low in order to make it in California, and I got off my high horse in less than a month in order to get back to where I knew I needed to be. I worked for food and returned to normalcy, but not before I did a lot of hard, manual labor. This is America’s fault, and for people to show bigotry in the process is despicable and forgetting where we’ve all come from…. our immigrant or forced into labor through slavery relatives. With the exception of Native Americans, WE’VE ALL COME FROM IMMIGRANTS. Hummm. I think I’ll cut and paste this into a word document and deliver it to the owners. Which… I’ve done. Next, I’ll mail them this blog posting.
I did call the owner, and of course he denied it, so it becomes a “he said, she said.” He asked if I asked the police about it, but of course the police weren’t in the store, so again, it’s “he said, she said.”
Why then, would someone go to the store to get water and come back empty handed?