The year was 2008. After months of following the presidential campaign, I finally gave in and covered my "Ready for Hillary" sticker with one supporting Obama. Yes, I lived in the Bible Belt, surrounded by a pool of political red, but I can't really say as I cared. After all, my political leanings have never exactly been a well-kept secret, no matter where I've lived.
(Photo compliments of ballotvox.prx.org)
Then one hot summer's night, my almost-middle-schooler was playing ball. She is a born athlete who loves the game, but that night, things began to drag as both teams ran out of pitchers. In desperation, they pulled my kid from her usual spot at second to try to close out the game. It wasn't pretty, but she did it. The final inning came mercifully to an end.
That's when I heard the guy shouting. He insulted the officials, the coaches, and yes, even the players, honing in quickly on the closing pitcher. Admittedly, my kid did not have her best game, and admittedly, she was easy to spot, being one of the only brown girls in the entire league. But that does not explain why, on a team of twelve, we were the only ones followed to the parking lot, or why we were treated to a fresh level of invective when he saw my Obama bumper sticker.
Except... Except, of course, it does. It explains it all. We were there. We heard every last ugly word.
This isn't even close to the worst example you'll ever hear, of course. It isn't even the worst one my kids have ever lived. But it is one reason why you can't tell us that racism doesn't exist. We can't hear you over the yelling.