Yesterday on our second day in Buda and Pesh as my Aunt Ellen calls Whitehall and Montegue, MI Aunt Ellen, my mom and I made a trip to one of the local beauty parlors.
We arrived and it was like any other beauty parlor in a small town except for the overwhelming Elvis theme – which was a homage to the owners dead father’s love for the King. Now like in all small towns the beauty parlor is the place where women go to discuss the issues they are having and get the local gossip. Ellen of course our chatter box got to chattering with the lady who was going to make a drastic change when it came to her hair. She decided to cut it all off – bleach it and if I was lucky.. I had talked her into red tips.
Ellen being herself started talking about her dead wife and talking openly about being a lesbian in this small town beauty parlor. Which personally I would have been EXTREMELY careful not to do and I noticed my mother was also keen to do so. As luck would have it the hairstylist had a openly gay son who is seventeen doing his best to start a LGBTQ Alliance at his high school in this small town. Courageous doesn’t even cover what he is trying to do.
So as Ellen proceeded from long salt and pepper locks to spiked blonde goddess an influx of people came and went which was great until the one older white man came in an sat down in Becca’s chair while Ellen was getting her hair shampooed out.
Once he spotted me, he promptly launched into a hate filled regurgitation of Glen Beck and Fox News’s opinions on 9/11 and Ground Zero.
I at first was in a state of shock that some guy would be so blatantly hate filled in the open. Usually the individuals I encounter are more subtle or try to cover it with a statement like,” I am not a racist but I ….”.
My Mom and Aunt Ellen were both there while this guy was spouting off at the mouth but of course a buckethead like that would assume that I was alone and an easy target because I am brown and obviously Muslim while my mom and aunt are white and not Muslim.
So I made the choice to walk away and do my best to ignore the bigot in the beauty parlor. At one point I really want to walk over and give that man a piece of my mind. My Aunt Ellen was willing to stand up against him with me but I stopped myself because I didn’t need to start a rumble in the beauty parlor of all places.
I also took the facts that my Aunt Ellen pointed out such as A. The KKK is still alive and well in Michigan. B. Michigan might appear because it’s north of the Bible Belt to be less red neck, close minded and ignorant because there is no southern accent but the facts are it isn’t. C. My family lives here and I don’t so I should start something I can’t stay long enough to finish myself because it’s one thing if your harass me or burn a cross on my lawn but another if you do it to my aunts, uncles or cousins.
So I simply went back eventually and stared the guy down – daring him to comment with my family in the room. My mom of course was elbowing me and trying to get me to stop but I didnt -because really since I got rid of my death laser look my staring hasn’t been so lethal lately – how disappointing.
So eventually the bigot left the beauty parlor but I know this isn’t happening to just me in small towns like this it’s anyone who is different or outside what appears to be normal. Especially in towns like this where no one of color lives in the town , very few people are openly gay or non Christian.
Oh I came up with some witty come backs for the bigot like:
I guess your ignorance exceeds your age and if only bigots could spell bigot they might be able to look it up in the dictionary but wait… That means they would have to know how to read … And they don’t.
But in the end it’s like we have always said,”you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink”. The same goes with challenging an individuals beliefs, educating them, opening their hearts as well as minds.