A few months before I began my senior year of high school, I saw an ad in a local newspaper. A drugstore needed a clerk that summer. I called and scheduled an interview with the owner, Gil. The night before my appointment, I ironed my skirt and blouse, washed my shoelaces, and powdered and buffed my white-suede saddle oxfords, the shoe of choice among teenage girls who wanted to be hip.
When I entered his office, the heavy-jowled man looked me up and down, sprawled out in the chair behind his massive desk, and picked up a lit cigar. After taking a few puffs, he said, “I’m not about to have no colored gal working in my store.”
I felt flushed and caught my breath, but then, remembering Gramps saying, “Racism is just another challenge, and challenges make us strong,” I looked Gil in the eye and said in a level voice, “Your loss.” I turned my back on that man and walked out the door.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish