Today was the first time I’ve ever thrown anyone out of our shop. This man was a white man about my age (mid 50s) who came in to buy records. I wasn’t in the shop when he arrived but Shannon told me that there was a man in the record room who wasn’t wearing a mask. As I headed back to speak to him, he was heading toward me. I said “Sir, you need to wear your mask in the building.” He pushed by me as he pulled his mask/neck warmer up over his face. He walked by Shannon on his way to the front desk and, after he passed her, she whispered to me, “He’s wearing Trump 2020 mask.” Despite the fact that Don was at the front desk, I was compelled to follow him. As he stopped to pay for his records, he turned and looked at me. All I could see was “Trump 2020” under a middle aged white man’s eyes. I said (tongue-in-cheek), “You’ll get a better deal in here with a different mask on.” Then he went off. At this point, I remember him yelling “your business wouldn’t be open without Trump” followed by “if this Black Lives Matter shit comes up here, you’ll go out of business” followed by something about Hillary Clinton going to prison.
I’m usually pretty composed and almost always polite, but not today. I heard myself say, “Get the fuck out of my shop and don’t ever come back here.” He continued to yell at me as he walked out, so I followed and repeated my “get the fuck out” instructions followed by “keep your mask on, asshole!” Then I walked back into the shop and out the back door to cry. Why cry? Because this is our safe space. This is our little corner of the world. This is our home. And the racism, misogyny, homophobia, and ignorance that has crawled out from under its rock has now made its way into our shop. This is profoundly sad for me.
But after thinking about this interaction, I realized several things.
- I am sad but I am not afraid.
- This is not about about one man. This is about deep, deep issues that are floating to the top of our culture for many reasons.
- We can & should do better. Self-assess, reflect, learn. Do better. Be better.
- The most important thing to us is our customers. And that means providing all people–Black, Latinx, queer, trans, and any other marginalized community –with a space filled with “peace, love, and understanding.”
- We can and will maintain a safe, inclusive space by looking hatred in the eyes and telling it to get the fuck out.