Revisiting my first experience with racism

On Aug. 20, 2022, I attended the WWE Saturday Night Main Event show at the Canadian Tire Centre with my two best friends, Andrew and Luca. We had a great time seeing some of our favourite wrestlers.

Over the past eight years of our friendship, we’ve hung out and organized many activities. That WWE show was my favourite. A key factor in our friendship is that we share multiple interests. We’re all fans of professional wrestling. Luca and I have attended WWE events together since 2017, but we never brought Andrew along due to a lack of money and he wasn’t a wrestling fan, yet.

This time we brought Andrew.

I was in a great mood during and after the event. Life was good.

I had no idea what would happen the next night. On Aug. 21, 2022, I experienced racism for the first time.

The morning of that day was normal. I woke up around 10 a.m. and did my morning routine. Around 3:30 p.m., I got ready to go to work for my 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift.

I work at the Dairy Queen in my neighbourhood. I started as a kitchen staff member, cashier, ice cream maker, and finally got promoted a shift leader in July 2022.

When I arrived at work that night, I greeted my coworkers and got ready. There were six of us, me included.

Around 9 p.m., orders slowed down and soon we started cleaning the store, washing dishes and stocking up on anything low.

I was outside the store cleaning the patio tables. A coworker came out and told me he was having issues with a customer at the front. I went back inside and saw a man in at the cash register.

The man had messy brown hair, a broken hand and was wearing a dark blue jacket.

He told me he needed food. I informed him our kitchen was closed and there was nothing we could do for him. He told me he was homeless and hadn’t eaten in days.

I told him I couldn’t serve him unless he was paying. After a few minutes of him arguing with me, I gave him a free drink. He sat down at a table to drink and returned a few minutes later to demand food.

I repeated myself, he became frustrated and demanded to speak with the manager. A coworker advised me to call the manager. I went to the back of the store, called my manager and explained the situation. I returned to the front of the store with my manager on the phone and passed it to the homeless man.

My manager told him if he came back tomorrow, we could try to give him free food. The homeless man angrily told my manager that he needed food now and couldn’t wait.

The homeless man finally put the phone down on the counter and started leaving. I picked the phone up and my manager told me to lock the doors.

As the homeless man was leaving, he called me a “fucking N-word.”

He didn’t look at me when he said it and he didn’t yell it out, but he said it loud enough for me to hear it. As soon as he left, I locked the doors.

After closing the doors, I talked with my coworkers, we closed the store and all went home.

There were two emotions I was feeling that night — mostly shock and a little anger.

“I can’t believe I got called a N-word over Dairy Queen,” is what I tell myself every time I think about that night.

To be honest, I was angry. Not because he called me a N-word, but because he tried to make me look like the bad guy by repeating, “why are you being evil?”

I tried to do my job, I gave you a free drink, you called me a n-word and I’m the one being evil?

For some reason, the situation didn’t offend me as much as it should’ve. I guess I have a high tolerance for insults.

It also helps that I always try to stay calm in every situation I face. I was unsure if he was carrying a weapon with him, so I spoke in a calm and polite manner to not anger him. Looking back, I’m proud I kept my cool.

I recently attended WWE Monday Night Raw with Andrew and Luca again. The last time I went to a WWE show, I experienced racism the next day. Hopefully this time I don’t run into any racist homeless people again soon


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