“It’s different, shopping with mom”

Chas. Sundling,
Tillamook, OR

These words were spoken by one of my two sons. They were spoken a few years back, and led to quite the conversation about race, about people’s first perception based upon appearance, about acceptance, about prejudice, about self-identity, about belonging, about privileges, perceived or otherwise, about entitlement and self-entitlement, about rights, about struggles, and about love.

My ex-wife and I are both born and raised in San Francisco. We moved up to the Pac NW some years back when I accepted a position with Nike. I am white, and she is of Puerto Rican ancestry, and our sons are a blend of the two.

I am a rather out-going person who tends to chat with people in the store, whether those are friends, acquaintances, strangers and or employees of the store. It’s the same way here in Pac NW, as it is back in SF and the bay area, as it is in Queens, NY, as it is in Guatemala and Peru. It’s just what I do.

one time, when leaving the store, one of my sons made mention that I speak with and greet a lot of people in the store and that people do the same with me, which prompted me to reply, “Why, how is it with your mom when you go to the store?” to which one of them replied, “It’s different, shopping with mom”.

The way it was spoken, the way he said those simple words, told me that there was something much deeper at play here than I was expecting to hear which opened the door to the conversation that I have mentioned above. probably forgotten by him, those words, “it’s different, shopping with mom”, have never left me. Although I create race card here on this page today, it truly isn’t my card nor my experience, but I carry this card within me, for not doing so, would be part of the problem, and not the solution.


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