You can sit in the bar

Diane Graves,
San Antonio, TX.

My husband and I (both Anglo) were driving our adopted daughter (born in El Salvador, adopted as an infant, a U.S. citizen since she was 11 months old) to a guest ranch in Colorado. It was 2004; our daughter was 11 years old. Late on Sunday morning, we stopped to have lunch in Alamosa, CO. My husband entered the restaurant first, and my daughter and I busied ourselves at a postcard rack while he asked for a table. The white, male, college-aged host eyed our family, spotted our daughter, and said, “You can sit in the bar.” My husband asked, “Why would that be? I see plenty of tables in the main dining room.” It was pretty clear why. Fortunately, a young female waitress pulled up and said we were welcome in her station. We were stunned–and grateful that our child didn’t realize what had happened. She only learned about it this year, when I asked her if I could submit this story. We are glad we live in multiracial San Antonio, but still worry what kind of nation we are becoming–and if our daughter can ever be accepted as American in the rest of the country. Recent rhetoric would indicate that she will have to be alert for profiling and other forms of bias. My heart is breaking now as it did that day. How many other people of color experience this kind of bias on a daily basis? We all can do better. We can BE better.

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