When gelato gets racial or a little girl hears the N-word for the first time

As the wheels continue to fly off my personal life, moments of simple joy and normalcy are increasingly hard to come by. My son’s unexpected visit home this week promised to be an opportunity to simply be present with family and savor the simple joys of togetherness. To share in the love that makes us a family, without the heady labels that often weigh us down.

Yet, as a mixed-raced family in a white space, the reality is that anytime we leave our house as a family, we risk incurring the wrath of the ignorant and hateful. To partake in the joys of the first treats of spring can turn ugly without notice and, sadly, a visit to Maine’s most populous city yesterday was the day when the ugly became personal and my nine-year-old daughter learned that there are people who will never know her essence but instead will reduce her to nothing more than a nigger.

I had no intentions of blogging about what happened to my family yesterday in Portland, though in a fit of anger, I did tweet about it in vague terms. However our degradation was witnessed by many, including a local news anchor who shared what she witnessed on her Facebook page and when a news anchor shares such a tale in a state the size of Maine…well, it seems I should just write about it myself.

My husband, son, daughter and I were walking in downtown Portland in an area known as the Old Port. The Old Port is a cute little area with cobblestone streets and an assortment of boutiques and eateries that draw crowds. We had already shopped at several local shops and were off to grab gelato before heading back to our little hamlet when suddenly and without warning as we were waiting to cross the street, a carload of young white men approached and without warning, the young man in the passenger seat yelled out very clearly and very loudly “Hey, niggers!” In that moment, I was frozen, I was scared…I was hurt. Yet before I had time to process what I was feeling, my son dropped the bags he had been carrying and ran off after the car.  As I snapped to and realized that my son might be doing something foolish, the sounds of my daughter wailing for her brother to not run pierced my soul. I called out to him, too, in the hopes he would stop but he said he had to run and never paused for a second.

We stood there unsure what to do next, a sense of shame seeping into our souls. To be othered so publicly in such a vile manner is not a comfortable feeling. In that moment, the three of us stood, not sure if we should run after my son. My husband walked across the street to see if he could see our boy, he couldn’t. My husband asked if I felt he should go after him, I said no. We needed to be here when he returned. In those excruciating moments, nothing was said to us, though what seemed like minutes later, a white man crossed the street and asked if we were okay. I explained what happened and he asked if I could recall what the car looked like and that he would go look for my son once his own ride arrived to pick him up.

Eventually, the standing became too much and the weight of worry caused me to start walking and look for my son, while I had my husband and daughter stay put. I walked a few blocks down the street and came upon my son who was walking back our way. He wasn’t harmed but his anger was apparent. As we walked, I held his arm just as I had done when he was a small boy which, considering he is now a full head-plus taller than me, is laughable. I asked him why he ran, he told me he ran for every time growing up in Maine that a grown man had called him a nigger and he was too little to do anything but hang his head. He ran because he is tired of hanging his head and feeling nothing but shame. He ran because having his baby sister hear those vile words was simply not acceptable to him. He ran because a pack of white men calling his mama a nigger was not okay. He knew the risk inherent in running but he also knew that at 23, he is tired of stuffing down the weight of racism and being asked to be the “better person” by silently taking the abuse and waiting for society to change when it clearly has little impetus to do so. He realized that sometimes, a man has to be willing to risk everything, including an ass kicking or a jail cell, to right some of the wrongs in this world. It may seem…or maybe even be…foolish, but there comes a time when one is simply tired of dealing with injustice.

I have spent the last 11 years writing about race and racism. I head one of the few organizations in the United States dedicated to anti-racism work. While I can go into an academic head space about racism, the fact is it is very different when it is your family and your children living with the reality and weight of being different and being seen as less than fully human. It hurts and if you think about it too much, it will crush your spirit. Yesterday’s events were a psychic gut punch in a week that had already doled out a more than a few psychic kicks.

When I tweeted about the exchange, I was literally blowing off steam on the ride back home and had no intention to really talk about it again. But waking up to numerous messages and to see my painful exchange shared publicly and in detail, well…I am grateful for the anchor’s observations but I am also saddened. Saddened that she was not comfortable enough after seeing the entire exchange to come over and ask “Are you okay?” In my professional work, I work with white people on race and the white American culture is a, all-too-polite space where too many times white people don’t speak up and unfortunately silence can be harmful. Racism is a system, and that silence upholds that system even when we don’t believe we are actively creating harm.

In having the story go public, it created many questions and one being: What happened afterwards? Well we had a sober ride home, the mood of the day being utterly destroyed on a day that we honestly needed to be good. We needed a perfect spring day to savor as we grapple with the uncertainty and fragility of life. Instead, we were reminded that the world can be an utterly ugly place, my daughter asking on the way home if we could move away from this place. I reminded her that ugly can live anywhere. If I felt there was a place that was safe and where we could be assured that we would never hear that word again, I would move heaven and earth to get us there. However, there is no such space in a world that is not comfortable with Black and Brown bodies, instead all I can do is prepare her for what she faces and pray that her gentle soul is not destroyed in the process. Prepare her to wear the mask and stuff down her self just enough to stay strong but not too much otherwise the weight of the mask that Black and Brown people wear in spaces becomes too much and will eat you alive.

So, that’s what happens when you go out on a gorgeous spring day and you’re Black. Your humanity, security and even dignity can get snatched away in a second. You feel the pain, you try not to let it utterly consume you, and then you take it and stick in the jar and keep it moving.

I will keep moving. As will my family. Sometimes, if you try to tear us down, we will run. Not away from you but after you, and you will see us in your rearview mirror or over your shoulder. Even if you outpace us, we will ensure you do not forget us or take us lightly ever again.

226 thoughts on “When gelato gets racial or a little girl hears the N-word for the first time”

  1. This makes me so angry. The sense of entitlement and lack of humanity or compassion displayed by those idiots is disgusting. They got their laughs for the day, but this likely to stick with your family for much longer. Few of us forget the first time we’re called a “nigger.” I’m so sorry this happened to you and your family.

    • I am sickened that such ignorance and meanness exists. It is unfathomable to me, and I always speak up, will always speak up, and will continue to encourage others to speak up. I am so sorry and outraged that this happened to you and your family. Stay strong, and thank you for writing about your experience.

  2. Living as an interracial couple in Bangor it sickens me that people feel that they have the right to say ANYTHING to people of colour and we are just going to stand by and take it. I am an Aglo-American with brown skin (a black woman born in England) and I am seeing that I have to explain why certain words are offensive and WHY I don’t like it. I hate just being called coloured, but I am told in reply at least we are not calling you the n-word. I told them that sort of reasoning is like saying I am not going to shoot you, but I am just going to stab you instead…it is not as bad. I feel like everyday I am having to educate. I like to use the slogan “Don’t hate. Educate”, but sometimes you can’t teach people who refuse to learn.

  3. That is just awful. Beyond awful. I wish your daughter had been able to remain free of that – well, forever! – but at least longer than this. That it just keeps happening… Something must change. Which will have to involve all of us, including those of us who have stayed ignorant of this reality for far too much of our lives. Bless you for your courage in writing as well as in your day to day life.

    • I am ashamed that I’m on the same end of the color spectrum as the ignorant boy in that passing car. I too had an interracial marriage; we lived in West and Central Africa, Downeast Maine, and Montreal and never encountered such hurtful behavior. There is no excuse for it.

  4. Sis, you know if there was a place in Earth remotely kind to Black bodies every Black face on the planet would be trying to make it there.

    I am sorry you had to go through this and disgusted that some White woman told YOUR story for attention, a cookie and a pat on the head.

    • SERIOUSLY??? ‘Disgusted that some white women told your story’ Racisim goes both ways, your comment isn’t any better than what the ignorant boys spewed from the car.

      • No it IS totally wrong that the white tv news anchor described this incident in the way she did, without any interaction, or connection. Sure there was some empathy, but it was all in the way she described this family as “adorable” which was ever so condescending and perpetuates that idea of them as being separate, identifiable, noticeable. THAT, Betsy, is RACISM!!! Jackie Ward did not even speak to this family, did not even bother to find them out and interview them, did not take a statement, did not check their situation, did not even contact the woman after she found out her identity. There is nothing on her page on FB which shows a dialogue between the two, beyond the black woman’s missive to Jackie. I find that totally irresponsible on the part of a media person. Blech.

        • Please, comments like that alienate people that agree with you about the real problem. Grow up.

        • I totally agree Jackie Ward had no business posting about this and saying “adorable”, really was condescending. If Jackie wanted change, she should have gone over to the family and offered her apologies for having witnessed the event, and for the ignorance of others.

          • ‘Adorable’ sounds a bit like she was going overboard in praising the family either as a clumsy way of showing people she’s not a racist, or maybe interracial families make her uncomfortable but that fact makes her even more uncomfortable so she needed to do something to prove to herself she isn’t a racist. Doesn’t make it any better, really, but it sounds more clueless than anything else, so maybe she’s a teachable sort.

        • Jackie Ward posted a FB message as Jackie Ward, a person, not Jackie Ward a news anchor. She was appalled with the situation. She deserves credit for that. Could she, should she have gone to the family?? Not everyone knows how or what to do/say in situations. I think your comments are judgmental and unfair.
          My heart hurts for the family.

          • If Jackie ward wanted to post as herself and not a news anchor she would have used her personal fb page with her real name. Instead she used her work name and the fb page connected to it. as a result, she posted like a news anchor/reporter.

        • Sounds like a case of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”.

          The White people who tried to call out this evil behavior wind up being parsed and picked apart for their nuanced “omissions”.

          • I disagree that anyone is “damned if you do.” We are capable of more sophisticated thinking than that. It seems pretty clear that there are levels of culpability here: the jerks in the car were utterly wrong, the witnesses who didn’t care, witnesses who felt bad but still did nothing, the anchor who did nothing at first but then tried to raise awareness (best possible interpretation) or get publicity for herself from it (a more cynical interpretation but equally possible). As a white person, this criticism of the anchor seems both clear and fair: I am being told that I am expected to do more than just not act racist, more than just silently disapprove of racism, more than just “raise awareness” of racism. I need to stand up to stop racist attacks when I can, and help the people attacked if I can. Anything less is not enough — and rightly so, if we are really going to improve things for everybody.

        • Shine light on white privilege, Heather Dunfee. Be quiet, let this into your heart, and think, Betsy. Don’t speak, just let this in until you feel the truth of it.

        • Actually, the fact that they are mixed race DOES make them separate, identifiable, and noticeable. And what’s wrong with that? Not a thing. What’s wrong here is what the guy yelled—not the fact that her family is “different”. Why can’t people accept that color CAN be seen and probably should be seen. We aren’t one giant culture, we are all different. Mixing it up is perfectly fine. The rude comments and ignorance when we do mix it up is what’s not fine.

        • People aren’t always going to do exactly what you’d want them to do in any given situation. There’s enough contempt in this world as it is without extending to people who are trying to be on the good guys’ side.

        • Heather Dunfee: I find it telling, and slightly amusing that you call-out “white tv news anchor” Jackie Ward, and then exclaim how “being separate, identifiable, noticeable. THAT, Betsy, is RACISM!!!”
          Do you also note “the black woman’s missive” has a name? Did you bother to read your screed and see where ‘Ms. Stewart-Bouley’ would have been more appropriate?
          Check yourself.

        • Jackie’s mistake was that she didn’t post this on her personal facebook page vs. her tv personality facebook page. However, having known Jackie since she was 14, I can tell you that she uses the word “adorable” a lot…probably too much actually.. She uses the same word to describe me and my family. What is most sad about all of this is that people seem to be arguing with one another vs. the perpetrators of the injustice. They’re probably thrilled with all of these daggers being thrown. The blame rests squarely on their ignorant and evil shoulders. (Neither the family nor Jackie are those two things.)

      • As a fellow (I’m guessing, based on your comment) White woman, the ignorance and white privilege your statement is soaked in is embarrassing and appalling. There is a long, long history of White people appropriating Black people’s stories, especially Black women’s stories, telling and retelling them in ways that center our feelings rather than those of the people the story is originally about.

        And even if that weren’t the case, if Witchsistah were completely wrong, out of line, and unsupported by history (hint: she isn’t), making a statement to BGIM, in BGIM’s own space, that she’s sorry and “disgusted that some White woman told [her] story for attention…” is absolutely nowhere near a carful of boys yelling the N-word at a family, especially a family that includes a child. It’s like equating the constant onslaught of rape and death threats that so many women online get to a woman saying that some particular guy did something kinda creepy the other day.

      • If you truly believe that wichsista expressing anger and hurt without using a racial slur is the EXACT same thing as these young white boys calling a black family nigger..you are truly the biggest idiot on the planet. You lack empathy as well as intelligence. Kill yourself.

        • The hatred behind your words is appalling. When is it ever appropriate to tell someone to kill themselves? You are spewing the same hate as those boys in the car- and then to go on and call another person ignorant? For shame! We need to love one another to create change, not blame and point fingers.

      • People should be asked if they want their story told. The blogger could have addressed the family directly, honoring their distress and respecting their privacy. I am profoundly saddened by the racism that still exists in this country and profoundly hopeful in the public acknowledgement and outrage occurring these days.
        The people who shouldn’t talk at all are the ones who keep saying racism is not an issue any more.

      • Wow, Betsy, I think you’re missing something here. Witchsistah was “disgusted” at the thought that someone stood right there, clearly close enough to see and hear the entire exchange, not only the yelling, but the quieter words between the family left behind, and said nothing. Nothing. Even a quick “Sorry!” would have acknowledged their existence and humanity, never mind actually offering help or further solace. This is not racism. It’s reasonable frustration that a person who is in the public spotlight chose to stand in that light and post the story, yet as much as her “heart broke for that little girl as she harshly learned how our society has such a long way to go when it comes to racism, ” she chose to walk away, saying nothing. She could have, at that crucial moment, shown that child her own compassion and humanity, and didn’t. The story ABOUT HER has blown up all over the place. And y’know what? It’s NOT about her.

        • I am so sorry your family had to be subjected to such disgusting behavior by a bunch of punks in a car. However, just as disgusting is the fact that no one came to your families side to say anything. I HATE racism towards anyone!! I wish you and your family love and hope you can enjoy your Easter weekend. God bless you all, stay strong.

        • You’re being irrationally unfair to the reporter. The angry should rest with the wicked individual who spews hate, not on the personal choices of a the person who witnessed it. The article, I think, was meant as a way for her to address what she witnessed, and show people that this kind of hate still exists. It was her way of defending the family, not shamelessly promoting herself.

          I think you need to reexamine whats making you angry here.

          • Andrew, I agree. What’s worse?
            This “media person” as we don’t call them reporters any longer* – going ‘viral’ with her social media post, or should she have interjected herself and became more of the story?
            A truly jaded me, would have an unnamed media person (Dianne Sawyer) breathlessly near tears (Dianne Sawyer) with Ms. Stewart-Bouley’s young daughter on her lap for the interview.
            That’s the National way. The Big-Market way. The Major Network way.

            By that standard, Ms. Ward’s efforts earn a FAIL.

            *reporters were schooled to remain detached from the action, and report – not become the center of the story.

      • The least the anchor could have done was come over and spoken with her instead of taking out upon herself to publicly discuss what she had seen without asking if it would be ok. You probably would’ve felt the same way of it had happened to you.

      • She wasn’t disgusted that the white woman told her story. She was disgusted that this woman, a news anchor didn’t bother to talk to her about it. A journalist writing a story about something so important that the story needed to be told should have, at the very least, inquired and interviewed the black woman and her family about how what happened made them feel.

      • THIS is what you come away with this story to comment on??? As I sit here with tears on my cheeks hurting for this family, I just don’t understand why you don’t understand this statement.

      • Yes, seriously. As a 60 year old white woman who grew up in Mississippi, it’s clear to me that these are not OUR stories to tell. When we speak their experience from our point of view we diminsh and erase them, and that is not OK. We have to stop caring about our precious privileged white feelings so much if we want to be decent people and if we really want to stop the violence that white supremacy commits against PoC.

    • Being in a racially mixed family, it is hurtful to read the words of what happened in Portland, however; saying the news reporter blogged the story for attention is not fair. I am sure she was shocked, disgusted, etc….
      Just because someone is white does not mean they are incapable of seeing how vile, disgusting and ignorant people can be.

      More white people need to see and hear stories like this to understand racism is real and alive today. Too many white folks do not believe that racism is as bad as they hear about. When you are white you do not see it much, therefore it is easy to believe that it is not as relevant as the black community claims it is.

      I applaud Jackie for discussing this and also being disgusted by it.

      • I read Jackie’s story and I was touched that she shared. She too was disgusted and upset. Some people don’t approach others because they just don’t know what to say at that moment. I have no doubt that everything she said was all in positive. She posted as a person, not a news anchor.

    • I have always felt that God made us all out of love, and that all of our differences should be respected and celebrated. No one is just a label. But why are you turning it around labeling the news anchor “some white woman”? Labels are labels. None are okay.

    • Witchsis, what would you have had her do(aside from approaching the family and checking on their wellbeing, of course)? Should she have stayed silent? Youdo not know her circumstances, how much time she had or what else was happening in her day. Perhaps she could have done better but isn’t it a good thing she did what she did? Now many are hearing the story and the conversations may just move forward.

  5. Very sorry that happened to you. Thank you for sharing your story. Hopefully some good will come of it.

  6. Thanks you for sharing this personal and powerful post. I still remember the first time that I was called the n-word (to my face). Somehow it didn’t happen until I was in college. I was walking by myself on campus, about to catch the bus home from a late night at the library. A car with 3 white guys pulled up to me and yelled ‘Hey N*gger!’ They slowed down like they were going to get out of the car, but then they drove away. So many emotions went through me so fast – anger, fear, shock, hurt. I wish my son wouldn’t have to deal with this, but I don’t live in fantasyland. My husband and I have been preparing our now preteen son for when (not ‘if’) it will happen to him. Sadly, we know he won’t truly understand our teachings until it does, then ‘the talk’ will really begin and he will not see things the same away again.

    • This racial episode really makes me ashamed of my fellow man! In this day and age no one should have to have “the talk” about the “N” word except us white people explaining to our children about the ignorance and cruelty of our ancestors! Growing up in the ’60’s we used to sing that little “eeny meeny miny mo” song with that word in it. We didn’t know any better and our parents never told us that it was wrong. You can bet that as soon as I got older and understood that it was so wrong that I never said that word again! My children learned that song with that word replaced with “tiger”!! We all need to learn that we were all created equal and that the only “race” we belong to is the HUMAN RACE!!l!

  7. Truly the pits. I’ll add mine to the chorus of apologies and sadness that this happened to you. Something similar happened to our family shortly after moving to Oregon two decades ago, a carful of young white men driving by and hanging out the window to shout racial epithets related to us being visibly Muslim. I was a teen at the time, and remember being so taken aback. It’s a surreal experience. I hope your little girl will be okay. The world is overripe with fear and violence, learning to cope with this is a scary, lifelong process and I’m sorry it had to begin for her at such a young age.

  8. Telling you I am sorry, despite being heartfelt, is meaningless. White space is “polite space” but politeness can cover a whole host of ills: abuse, violence, and racism to name a few.

    Honestly, even though what your son did was extremely dangerous for anyone, much less a young black man, his frustration and courage are palpable. His instincts were good.

    I am tired of white supremacy, white fragility, white lies. I am exhausted by white silence. I don’t have enough breath to apologize, but I can stand up, speak out, and support. ❤️

  9. I’m sorry that this happened, sorry that news anchor acted in such a privileged way, sorry your spring day was ruined. I wish there was more that I could do about this specifically than offer those words, but like Kristi, I can’t walk away from this without saying I’m sorry, and thank you for being wiling to share what happened, and … hell, I’m just so sorry.

  10. Please understand not everyone feels this way and we should all be kind to one another. I wish we could all give your daughter a hug.

  11. I’m white, my husband is African. We are also practicing Muslims. I was born and raised here and it hurts me to see the ignorant comments people make to us in front of our children. As Moms, we want to protect our kids from this kind of hurt and humiliation, and I feel helpless when these things happen. People feel big I guess, shouting at kids from their cars. It’s happened to my family also. A few years ago, I was very seriously verbally attacked by a guy following me, shouting like a maniac, in Deering Oaks in front of my kids. There were at least 20 people, men and women, who witnessed it and did nothing to help me and that scares me. It’s truly sad that we have to have these conversations with our kids. Sad that we have to teach them that some people will hate them just because they’re brown, or their religious preference. But, like you, we keep it moving. Ignorance may ruin a day, but we won’t let it ruin our life.

  12. Adding in my voice to the chorus – I hate that this happened to your family, that your story was appropriated, that only one person showed you empathy in the moment, and that we live in a world that is so racist. White silence truly is white violence.

  13. Jackie ward telling the “story” was only to point out, that here in 2015, we are still plagued with racism, and that those “young adults” hadn’t learned to respect others. I’m sorry to hear that this family went through that and I’m sorry that that little girl is going to have to spend her life hearing those negative words because of the color of her family’s skin. But we as a society, have yet to advance beyond that form of ignorance and degradation. I’m ashamed to live in today’s world, and am even more fearful for what kind of world my children will grow up in.

  14. Much love to your family. Take care. You and your family’s well being matter to me. Both in the short term and long run. I like your blog and want you to continue writing beyond the shitty teachable moments like this.

  15. This post made me cry. I am so sorry. I hope that you telling your story has helped bring some healing to your family.

  16. I cannot imagine how hurt and angry you must have felt, how worried you were about both your kids… I’m so sorry. And that this continues to bring more ugliness your way. Wish that safe space existed, had already been created.

  17. I am sorry this happened here in Maine or anywhere else. I do honestly believe that the silent majority does not follow in the steps of the men in the car. Unfortunately they are silent. I welcome you to my state, my town and my home.
    And above all be proud of your son. He has grown into a man who will not tolerate wrong. He will go far in life with this value.

  18. The Young men in the car were hateful. The news woman Is young and perhaps in her own way Is making a statement by asking people to be “nice.” You can’t wish hate to be nice.
    Once I was unaware of racism until I moved south. Each time it was someone of my own race (white) sharing what they assumed I would accept because I too was of the same race. How dare he, how dare she assume we had shared anything I thought.
    In 2002 a woman I worked with out of the blue blurted out “That dam n—- thinks she can talk to me like…” Hey, hey, hey, I broke in. You can’t talk like that!” “We don’t want to hear that!” You can’t allow people to wallow in their hateful ways for it May try to attach itself to you like a leach.
    Years prior (1970’s) in the same southern state a manager explained to me why my co worker couldn’t work out front. That was my first awakening and it made me angry because she was qualified and that to me had nothing to do with the color of her skin.
    Later ( mid 70’s) in another southern state I was visiting friends in a small town when I noticed signs on a store…colored in the rear.
    I listened to NPR today on the way to work. The story focused Memphis Tenn and the fight sanitation workers for better working conditions and pay. Dr Martin Luther King was in town to speak on behalf of the workers. The Woman telling the story gave a first account of events Including threats on people’s lives. As you know today was the day MLK was shot. The day a great and peaceful man died.
    Blackgirlinmaine, I haven’t walked in your shoes but I know for a fact racism is ugly and alive in many parts of the country.
    It will take more than just presenting the facts but people willing to not tolerate hate.

    • Shelle, I hope that by hearing and truly listening to Blackgirlinmaine’s experience, you can hear that “racism is ugly and alive” *everywhere* in this country – not just “in many parts of the country” as you note. We New Englanders sometimes pat ourselves on the back and look disdainfully at our Southern sisters and brothers, as if to say “We don’t have that problem here.” The sad truth, as demonstrated so clearly by this post, is that we *do* have the problem here too.

      There is a saying that Southern racism is like a wolf – you know it’s there and you see it coming, while Northern racism is like a fox, hidden and sly, sneaking up on you and then pouncing. There is a bit of truth in that, I think, that allows white folks here to tell ourselves “it doesn’t happen here.” We need to shatter that myth and take on the responsibility of anti-racism work with vigor and determination.

  19. BGIM, I read things like your experience, and I am infuriated, probably not near the extent you and your family are, but I thought I would offer, “Are you okay?” I do not get it, this country is supposed to be way further ahead of this hate than we are. I honestly do not know the justification for the regression.

    I am not deluded, we are by no means post racial, that is obvious, but this marketed vitriol, for what purpose? Anyway, if it helps, I am one person who reviles at the idea that people like you and your family had to have their day ruined by ignorant racists cretins.

    • “I honestly do not know the justification for the regression.”

      Regression – Al Sharpton, Eric Holder, Jesse Jackson, and Barack Obama.

  20. On behalf of the city and state I love, I am so very sorry that you were subjected to this. I wish you all strength and healing, and I pledge to use my own anger to work toward a place where every family can enjoy a spring day in peace.

  21. I am so sorry this happened to you. I don’t know how to help, except apologize and try to call it out when I see people being ignorant. And as you said, it is scary to confront that hate – it’s a side effect of a violent mindset, and a verbal assault can turn to physical violence in an instant. I pray for the courage to stand up.

  22. I am so sorry this happened not only to you but every other person who has been a victim of this kind of abuse. I am ashamed of the ignorance of those who do this but also those of us who stand by and let this happen. Please take some comfort in that we are not all like the example you have experienced. I send you hugs and love.

  23. My niece goes to college in Portland and lives in a small town in Maine. Here is a blog off of her FB a few weeks ago. “Very annoying when people talk about me or any other person of color and we are referred to as ‘the black one”
    — feeling pained.
    Broke my heart!

  24. I am so sorry this happened to you and your family. Like with grief, I am often at a lack of words to express my horror if I witness an event like this. Thank you, your expression of feeling will give be the courage to reach out to another in a similar situation. Again. I am so sorry this happened to you.

  25. Hurtful words should never be uttered, no matter what color, religion, etc. we are. Putting another down is wrong no matter what the case may be. We, as a society of HUMANS should be lifting each other up with kind, encouraging words and making this earth a better place for ALL,

  26. So…your daughter is 9 and hearing the “n” word for the first time? Do you think this would be the case if you lived in the southern part of the U.S.? I am glad you pointed out that ugly lives everywhere. I feel like I need to stand up for Mainers a little bit and say that most of us do not yell racial slurs out of the windows. I am sorry that there are still people on this world that do. All love is the same.

    • If she had lived in the southern United States …. maybe but it is a given that she would eventually hear it in New England. The south is facing its past, New England has not AND with the dominant white culture of Proper Puritanism so ingrained here….. it shall take generations for this realization to even commence !

  27. I feel great sadness that this kind of ignorance still abounds not only in Maine, but essentially everywhere in some aspect. You and your family have every right to enjoy every day wherever you wish without any form of harassment at all. We are all humans sharing this planet. The color of our skin varies, but the content of our hearts and souls, our hopes and dreams, our love of family and friends is potentially the same. Hatred emanates from the souls of fools. I wish your family healing from this incident and unending love and happiness.

  28. I too am saddened by this story but grateful to you for sharing. Those of us who do not suffer from racial discrimination need to be reminded that it exists. It is too easy for us to get wrapped up in our own little world.

  29. Mississippi like Maine … both rural, racist and with histories of white supremacy and KKK Cross burning. The difference is that while Mississippi has owned up and is working through her past, Maine has never even got to the first step. My Maine family migrating to Virginia, where I was born and raised, gave me a gift in that I had to confront the issues of black and white and injustice at a very young age. And coming back to Maine I have as a white woman surprisingly had to confront that racism here that has by and large has disappeared in southern Urban areas. A just community would have run along with your son…… need I say more ?

    • We all come from Africa. Race is really a social construct invented by a ruling class to segregate people in order to control them. Maine is not nearly as bad as other places, like another State where I grew up. I always thought I was white, but who knows? As a young boy I was really dark, so dark they would call my sister and I the N word, did not want me to swim in the same pool in our neighborhood. I did not even know what the N word meant? I can remember grandma telling me to stay out of the sun so I would not get so dark. Of course the other side of the family, the “evil white man” comments gets just as old. When I was about 12 or 13 I saw a cross burning on a black families front lawn. Looking into the eyes of a 4 year old girl , who did not understand why a cross was burning in front of her house, still remains fixed in my mind. I am getting little older now, and so tired of it all.

    • I am sorry this happened to you and your family. How horrid. I grew up in part in Orono and northern Japan, a tall blonde white girl in a sea of Asians. After being targeted there for being different, I returned to the US a painfully shy middle schooler. After softball practice one day my folks were late to pick me up and as I sat with my male coaches a boy was riding his bike around the bases. My coaches yelled at him to “get his n*** ass off the field”. The grossness and unfairness was shocking, but in that moment of fury even my shyness couldn’t stop me from telling them to NEVER say that word in front of me again. They were embarrassed and completely taken aback. A small voice and small semi-victory, but perhaps if we all did so it would it help stop such idiocy.

    • As a white southerner living in Maine, I am disheartened and disgusted by the hate and ignorance in this state. All the time I am told how the south is so racist and stupid, and in their next breath they complain and spew vile about that n****r in the white house. I cannot wait to leave.

  30. Don’t hate the world when a few ignorant punks spew hate. This world has evil beings in it. Those punks probably also beat women and kids, steal from the weak and kill animals. My world doesn’t see color it set evil. Pray for your enemies and cast your burdens on Jesus. God bless.

  31. I am truly so sorry this happened!!!! I am a white woman and can’t even imagine the pain this caused you and your family. When I was a young girl in High School, Maine had a semi pro basketball team in Bangor Called the Maine Lumberjacks. They came to my school and did an exhibition. It was great and my Family and I went to every game. We got to be really good friends with the players who were mostly black. They were awesome men and we formed life long bonds. They would come down to our house for the weekend and holidays ect… One day after a particularly bad game for one of these guys, we were walking to the car (he was coming home with us) and a group of young men starting screaming the N word it him. I began crying terribly. Billy sat me down in the back seat of the car and said to me, ” Honey, there are Niggers in this world but they come in all colors!!” As I dried my eyes, I thought about what Billy said and the fact he grew up in Mississippi and had experienced this tragically, more than once in his short life of 23 years. I will never forget the lesson he passed on to me. Sending you hugs and prayers!!! P.S. I am a commercial Lobsterman (female) and would love to take you and your family out on the water this summer if you are interested?!?!?! 🙂 Capt. Julie Eaton

  32. So sorry to hear of your experience. Hopefully Jackie’s story and yours will wake some of us up to the idea that we can sometimes help by not being silent.

  33. This account of something so despicable is dispiriting almost beyond words. I think every member of the racial majority should experience something like this themselves so that they might open themselves to understanding.

    Once when travelling from Tokyo back to the US, I was stopped (presumably at random) in the jetway ramp by two uniformed Japanese officers who asked me to put my bag on a table. While they were carefully taking out each of my belongings and examining them I sat in a chair and watched my fellow passengers board the plane. A very well dressed Japanese couple in their 70s (I would guess) looked at me as they walked by. The woman turned to her husband and said the Japanese word for “foreigner” almost spitting out her disgust and condescension. He looked at me and nodded his agreement with equal displeasure. It seemed my very existence was an affront to them and I guessed they believed I was getting what I deserved. I was shocked to my very core and furious, for I understood her words and their attitude. I was judged to be inferior and worthy of disrespect because of what I looked like. Not recognized was my good nature, my intelligence, the good work I do in the world, the good husband I am to my wife, my character, nor my loving nature. Just that I was a non-Japanese, a despicable foreigner.

    As a white male of European descent, this was my first (and so far only) taste of the bile that accompanies such interactions. And I believe that this tiniest of glimpses, this single moment of hurt among the millions of moments of my otherwise pleasant and uneventful life, was an extraordinary gift. From that point onward I felt that I was able to begin my lifelong lesson that so many of my fellow human beings were aching to teach me. While my own moment cannot compare by any stretch of an imagination, I felt that I could at last see and hear like never before.

    I am sorry that this happened. I oppose it when I see it and hear it. I wish I had been there to help. Failing that, at least let me offer my understanding of the hurt that was unleashed and send my healing thoughts to your family.

  34. I’m so sorry that this happened to your family. I pray for the day when people are just people, not colors or classes. I truly believe that you get what you give & I try to live every day that way. May peace be with you & your family.

  35. Pointing to Jackie about writing about a story she witnessed is just wrong, if she said nothing, the mother of the family already said that she wasn’t going to talk about it, then this conversation wouldn’t be on going. just look at all the dialog taking place now about that horrible confrontation. In the blog from the mother as well as Jackie’s enlightens to open positive and beneficial for ongoing talks about the feeling of hurtful words to anyone.

    • I’m beginning to think that if I ever witnessed something like what happened to this family; the best thing would be to walk away, pretend I never saw or heard anything, and to never speak about it again. It wouldn’t be worth the hassle.

      • But that is exactly what we all do every day in so damn many situations. We walk away from the pain of others and hope they’ll be okay. We have so much trouble being with the discomfort we leave our common humanity behind. We have a Yankee culture of not getting into someone else’s business that is deep and strong, but it is so isolating.

        The guy who came over to them and made the connection did the right thing. It was appreciated, and received.

        I am trying to flex that ability to be with someone in public pain. It’s wicked hard, and goes against all of my training as a guy, but i’m never disappointed when I do extend my hand in empathy and compassion.

  36. Please take this comment not so lightly. In a state I grew up in and direct on the street in public. This kind of attitude today not only speaks clearly to but about our children. The common reference to “What is wrong with america today?” Kids Its My generation not willing to be involved and do the work tearing down the wall of Hate and injustice. Kids it’s the taking Grace and Holy Wisdom from public places as well as the School systems. Kids it’s allowing from Marten Luther King to your Mother today, such a choice of mannerism not anymore taught to our children today cause we are lazy. No because we are ourselves are insecure of our lives! Kids Its my fault and the blame does not make it go away. But the time is now! So lets get together and whoop this in the butt as quickly as we can. Your Mom need not be tormented by this! Mr. Rodney J Adams

  37. I promise that if I ever witness anything of this sort, I WILL interject, it is our duty as human beings to care for one another and this is a crime against humanity.

  38. I am, truly, very sorry for all that people, of any color, have to endure in this time and age. Jesus is always portrayed as white but chances are His skin was dark. People should remember that especially on this Easter Sunday. God bless your family and especially your little girl.

  39. I am extremely sorry this happened to you. But, as a fellow Mainer, i take offense to you making it sound like everyone in Maine is racist. This is not true. Don’t let a bunch of ignorant d-bags set your views on everyone from Maine. There is ignorance no matter where you go, but most in Maine are pretty accepting. Again, I am so sorry for you, but I guess I’m trying to say we aren’t all bad

  40. As a citizen of Maine and a person who was in the back seat of a car going to the store in Louisiana when the young driver “chased” an African American woman across a street.Fifty-three years ago this week I had my first frightening experience with racism. I froze in fear and disbelief for the woman and because the teens were laughing and screaming “Move you N!” I was thirteen years old and I was a white person but I was raised differently.My shock was based upon the fact that they could have hit her.My fear was deeper because they thought their actions normal,funny and okay. I was an outsider too. I was outside the beliefs of this group of teens. This week I took the news anchors story as a wake-up call. I am sorry if I missed the fact that others might read it as cruel by her inaction or the word “adorable” as racism. I didn’t;
    I saw it as a reported event made personal. I took even more from the blog and responses above. We need to be diligent. We are a global society that hasn’t grown into being one….half a century of new technology coming at light speed and humanity shuffling along. As a white person where do I go to live where people love humanity enough to embrace all cultures, colors and beliefs? My late husband would say,”Heaven”. I do not want to believe his response.. I must be alert to making my space in the world livable for all and fro always.. I thank Jackie for voicing her observation and her response to her thinking at the time she did her FB page and later too.Sadly it awakened a nightmare in me that I have been suppressing for over half a century, but it is always just under the surface. It strikes with every news event and with this event too. Thanks to Jackie I have been awakened again. I hope if placed in such a situation I do not freeze. I too must learn to act not just react for the world has no walls and I hope I have a few more years to work to bring a bit of Heaven to earth.

  41. It’s a shame that this happens to anyone, anywhere in the world, but it’s a fact that it does, and has for years, and probably will for many more, but thanks to Jackie Ward, it’s been brought to the attention of many people here in Maine. It was not something she wrote for self promotion, it was written because she was shocked and upset by it. For those that say she should have done something, rushed to the family, asked if they were ok, or anything else other than just write about it, I doubt most of you would have done anything other than continue on with your day. Even the son has not reacted to a similar situation in the past. (http://www.temp.blackgirlinmaine.com/maine/killing-a-childs-spirit-or-growing-up-black-in-maine/) It’s hard to insert yourself into a situation like this, and I give a lot of credit to Jackie Ward for writing about it, otherwise very few people would be aware if the incident, and not realize it happens here in Maine.

  42. Racism is endemic in our society. All one has to do is observe the divide that exist in D.C.. The political demographics of our elected National figures mirrors our divide .When has their been such a backlash to a freely elected POTUS & all his endeavors ? NEVER! Why? what the difference ? .Racism will not be resolved quickly ; it will take generations of the following combination: attrition,patience,addressing legitimate grievances, and education.

  43. I am so sorry that you and your beautiful family were verbally insulted and humiliated by an ignorant and hateful white man. I am sorry for the racist undercurrent that poisons our society.

    I honor your steadiness, your son’s courage and pride, your daughter’s confusion and hurt and the resilience of your family’s heart. For those if us who take our unearned, undeserved privilege because of the color of our skin for granted…may we awaken and dedicate our lives to making the world a respectful and safe place for all.

  44. I am torn between being gals I wasn’t there to witness such disgusting and shameful behavior and wishing I were there to tell those ignorant , bigoted , poor excuse for men exactly what I thought. I am so sorry you had this experience and that you’ve had to experience so many more . I would wish, in this state at the the very least, in this day and time, a family could enjoy a day together and not be assaulted.

  45. When are we going to stop referring to people by the color of their skin? I am appalled by the behavior of people in general. That we are still not able to rise above the prejudices in 2015 is so disheartening. I grew up in Maine, and had very little exposure to people that didn’t look exactly like me, but I would like to think, that even though I grew up in a house where my parents were not accepting of other races, I tried to be. I don’t know if I have been successful. I believe that all people deserve the same respect. Yelling derogatory comments out car windows is just wrong, no matter the target or the comment. Those boys were raised poorly and should be ashamed of their behavior. I cannot begin to think that I understand the pain that incident has caused your family, I can only relate it to the many times as a child that I was teased or bullied and called names for being fat or too sensitive, always calling me a crybaby. It hurts and it stays with you your entire life.

  46. Bravo!!! This isn’t the right thing to say….but be thankful you don’t live in Arkansas! To me….Maine has never been a bigoted state. So sorry your family had to go there that!

    • I have watched a brilliant mixed race young woman grow up — her father’s black family is from Arkansas, her mothers white family is Boston Irish to the nth but migrating to the Connecticut river towns of Mass. and Connecticut. She never experienced the level of racism in Arkansas that she and her mother has had to endure in New England…. to the extent that her mother even wanted her to abort her mixed race grandchild !

      • I have personally spent a great deal of time in DE , LA., Some in FL and TX. Just last year the N word was used in front of me in TX like commonplace, because I don’t have typical hair and eye color. The racial casting is still strong in LA, and FL racism is really bad, some parts of TX, they still consider some people as their niggers, and I noticed at the airport talking, that some of the Maine racists are moving to places like TX. Maine is really no where close to some of the things I have seen, the racism in Maine is mostly associated with low IQ white garbage, not racial casting. It does exist, but not like where I grew up, where some people still think black men can’t be quarterbacks because they are not smart enough ( that comment was from down south not Maine).

  47. Jackie Ward reported this because, if she had as sheltered a life as most of us have had she was totally unprepared to see such hate. By bringing it to the attention of the rest of us, she was telling us it even exists in Maine. We, here, often think of hate as a Southern thing. I am glad the lady to whom it happened also posted. She has told us what the stunned bystanders should have done. So now we all know what to do if we see such a thing. One certainly hope it doesn’t ever happen again, but I never cease to be astonished by the folks I thought of as fellow Americans. I say kudos to both Jackie Ward & blackgirlmaine.

  48. God Bless you all!. I for one am ashamed of the boys who did this. I want to tell you how sorry i am Your family was treated like that. But I would like to say as for the Anchor woman, she meant no harm to you and your family. She and myself just can’t believe this is still going on! We all need to be more responsible to teach Respect for one another.

  49. wretched. I’m so sorry this happened to you and your family.
    I wanted to share my experience in Maine as well. My family moved to Yarmouth last summer from Washington DC. My primary concern with moving here was its lack of diversity. I was concerned that my children, growing up with this lack of diversity, would develop a very superficial understanding of their own skin. I’m sorry to say I haven’t been that much comforted to feel differently about this. Its very hard to come to feel connected to a place when there is such sameness, such lack of depth, such seeming obliviousness. I’m sorry to say I also read the News Anchor’s words as slight and kind of ignorant, only at the end does she summon the anger the situation demands. Friday, while picking my son up at his public school in Cumberland, I actually started to have a very dizzying, disconnected from my body type feeling. I have become so hyper aware of the Whiteness of this place. I was looking around to anchor my vision with just one, just one face that wasn’t like my own, and I couldn’t find any. Its difficult to find solace in feeling that you’re some sort of pioneer, some sort of representative of being the change here. Hundreds of years of White pilgrims pounding the countryside with their guns and their religion, pushing back or killing off anything that is other.
    Again, I’m so sorry this happened to you and your family. Try to enjoy this day. We have some sun and chocolate here at our house today, hope you have the same. Peace to you.

  50. This breaks my heart, not only for this family but as a white mother/grandmother of wht/blk grandchildren. These are actions of the ignorant. Whst’s worse to me is we have protection for animals but really is there any true justice for these types of behavior?

  51. I am crying as I read this and can only say how sorry I am that you and your family had to experience this. Please know that they are others out there who are standing with you and fighting these ignorant, intolerant people and attitudes.

  52. I am always astounded when I hear people talk as though racism were a thing of the past. It is alive and well, not only in Maine, but across our country. It has perhaps in general become more subtle than it once was, but that does not mean it has gone away. The battle against ignorance, anger, and bias is never won; it is something we should all understand and take part in. Silence truly is complicity. I am sorry for your experience. Cowardly, ignorant, idiots like the one in that car cannot be allowed to win.

  53. It Is sickening that this still happens..and that it had ever happened at all! :/ when will people realize that we are all one race–human! We are all the same on the inside and our various colours and cultures are what make us unique and interesting. There should be no borders. No countries or states. No labels or boundaries. We are all human and we are all citizens of Earth. One love! ❤️

  54. My heart is heavy. Those ignorant and cowardly young white men poisoned your family’s day — and made a lasting imprint. Your son was fueled by pain and anger for so many, and I see his actions as an honorable attempt to restore balance — to right ingrained racism and white privilege that is too much in this country’s bloodstream. I’m a white woman doing my best to become increasingly aware of that privilege and its ravaging ways, historical and current. I do believe that we white people must tune in, deepen our empathy, overcome the living legacy of shame and the comfort of repression and denial, open the door. And may we all work together and take one step at a time toward our common humanity.

  55. First, I am horrified at what happened to your family. In fact it made me so sad I felt like crying. I’m white and grew up in Maine but moved away and married a Kenyan-American and he agreed to move with me back to Maine. We lived there 5 years and honestly while to my knowledge he never experienced the extreme hatred that you did during this incident with your family — I observed enough to make me want to move away, which we did. And in all honesty, it IS BETTER for us living in NH, only one state away. Something is wrong in Maine and I’m not sure what it is that causes people to openly discriminate against people of different races.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always know how to respond and often look to my husband for guidance. I’m not sure I would have known what to do if I had personally witnessed this situation. I have often tried to call people on their treatment of my husband but he tells me to ignore it which I usually don’t want to. I want to yell at them, make them aware that the way they are treating him/us is hurtful and they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. I wonder if that course of action actually changes anything. Ignorant people are ignorant people.

    I don’t have the answer and I don’t know if I had witnessed what happened to your family if I would have run over to you or taken down a license plate number or ??? But I would have most definitely be angry and sad. I would have been glad to see your son run after them. I think sticking up for yourself and others is important. And while some disagree with the way the tv anchor responded or told the story, I think the most important thing is that the story is being told and attention is being given to it. Because people should be called on their hate and they shouldn’t be allowed to ‘get away with it’. Even if the outcome is a trial of public opinion.

  56. A Guy that I have met through Facebook who happens to be white sent this to me he actually sent me also the news reporters clip it’s so funny that I had just commented earlier about some people saying that we as Black people complain too much and it’s not as prominent as we say I’m sorry for your daughter your husband and your son and of you of course. sorry to say I don’t even think with HIM walking across the water again and trying to make it stop it wouldn’t do any good. This hatred is so deep seeded that it disturbs their very existence they can’t stop they can’t help it they just hate us and for no reason. Yet yet still they won’t leave if you don’t like us just leave the country because we here and we here to stay. turn off your TV you don’t ever touch a TV again because we’re all over it don’t come outside your cave because we’re out there,show me how racist you are and just leave

  57. MY god, that’s disappointing and horrible. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about moving to Maine is the relative–when compared to my home state of Texas–lack of racism and homophobia and incidents like these. But them I’m a light-skinned Hispanic; most of the time, I don’t think people here see me as other. But then incidents like yours bring me back to the ugly reality. I don’t understand it at all, why people feel the need to categorize and shame others. I never will.

  58. I’m so very angry and sad to hear of this incident. For all that is good about Maine, there is also too much bigotry and ignorance abounding. Thank you for sharing this painful story, and reminding all of us of how much work there is still to be done.

  59. As usual, you have retold such an ugly thing with so much eloquence. As a mixed race family also living in Maine we have shared many of your experiences similarly, with the exception being that you can speak of them so clearly and openly. Sorry for this experience, but thank you for continuing to share.

  60. The legacy of racism is so deep that white people are afraid to touch it. We like to think we would be different, but it might feel like an embarrassment that we are trained to look away from. Thank you for writing because it will make me think and try to be the one who can act even though it feels like moving through a paralysis. I hope you and your family will find allies where you are of whatever skin color and ethnicity, and that the reporter will understand that you are not “hating on” her but imparting a lesson she needs to take to heart.

  61. ALthough he was putting himself at risk, for every reason he was running he should be applauded. Bless your family.

  62. I don’t think Jackie meant any harm by talking about what she saw. She did however miss the opportunity to let the horrified girl know that this was rare and most people don’t feel that way. The little girl learned a valuable lesson. This happens and will probably continue. It’s not right but is what it is for now anyway. We need to teach our children that this is wrong. In time we can rid our country of this racism hopefully. I would also like to point out that I think the young mans reaction was totally wrong as well. These people are looking to get a reaction and they got it. It made it all the more fun for them. They are more likely to do this again. If we don’t react for them the fun goes away. I think the young man might have better spent his time helping explain what happened and explain that you should not give these kinds of people a vehicle to transport their totally wrong beliefs. I think Jackie was right to let the family handle the situation. I just think they could have handled it better. Education works both ways. Reacting in the way he did just double downed on the situation.

    • Thank you from me Jackie for starting a conversation that is needed. I appreciate how your heart reacted and keep up talking about the things that are important to you and me.

  63. WHat do we , as Mainers, do next? White and Black? Let’s not curse the darkness, but light that first or second or five hundredth candle to make changes happen, for all of our sakes.

  64. My dad is 88, I am 56, my daughters are 30 and 32, respectively, and my grandchildren are 1 and 2. We are proud African-Americans who realize EVERY day that this can happen.
    The pain I feel for your family is boundless. But I am gratified to know that you are a strong Black with two wonderful, beautiful children who will grow and thrive and be role models for us all!
    Thank you.

  65. I’m so sorry for what your family has endured. I don’t know what I would have done if I had witnessed it. I’d like to think I would have run with your son to chase down the punks. This has made me pause to think about what I would do in a similar situation and is a reminder to be vigilant and ready to act when needed. Thank you for sharing your story, which along with the newscaster’s, reminds us that we can’t stand by.

  66. Racism is just wrong, period, it disgusts me. Why does it exist through out much of the planet? It seems to be even worse in other countries. WHY? Because it is taught. Children of racists grow up with the “N” word and believing that “they” are different or bad. Heck if you grew up in Maine you have so little experience with people of another race what could you possibly base your racism on? The refugees from Somalia? What you see on the news or how different races are portrayed on tv or the movies?
    What do most people do when confronted with it? NOTHING!!!! Whether its a joke being told or someone witnessing it first hand like the other day in the Old Port, most people do nothing. People need to speak up and voice the fact that it is UNACCEPTABLE!! That takes courage.
    KUDOS to Jackie Ward for saying something on FB. In regards to those who want to say she did nothing at the moment, well she did what most people would do. She assessed that it would be inappropriate to approach the family at that time. Or maybe she just froze. Maybe she was wrong, maybe the family would have appreciated “a white women” sticking her nose into there business and offering support. Who knows?

  67. Thank you for sharing this emotional story. I wish I could say ” I am so sorry ” and know that that would be enough but I know it wouldn’t be. I am sorry that there are such narrow minded idiot people who still see color. I hope your daughter grows to see that she is beautiful and that the problem is with the other people who still find it necessary to show their stupidity by making racial remarks.

  68. God this sucks… when will it end or when will these people just die or there kids stick up for what’s right and tell there parents that racism is wrong and it sucks.

  69. Don’t give the morons that kind of power. God Bless you and your family, and Happy Easter.

  70. It saddens me that krap like this still exists. It just doesn’t make sense to me, never has and probably never will. My great grandmother got remarried to a black man in the 20s. Yes, 1920s. And they had a very happy life and were very respected in our small community. She had already had two children, one my grandmother, but had three more mixed children. He passed before I was born so I never got the chance to meet him. It wasn’t until I was around ten that I realized he and my aunt and uncles were “different”. Sure I had seen pics of him and spent time with them but they were never referred to as being black or mixed only papa saddler, auntie and uncle. I think we were doing a family tree project in school and had to bring in pictures and someone commented about papa being black. I was asked if I was part n*****. I had never heard the word before. I went home and asked my mom and dad and they explained it all to me. I went back to school and gave that kid a piece of my mind not to mention a couple of lumps…lol. He whined he wasn’t trying to be mean, he just thought that’s what they were called. Let’s just say he was educated after that day!
    I truly hope that your family especially your daughter will be ok. Remind her that her beauty will outshine all of the ugly in the world!

  71. I’m so, so sorry that this happened to your family. I’m appalled that it happened in Maine!
    Clearly we have a long way to go toward equality an seeing people as people not as colors!

  72. Sometimes, you have to forgive the truly ignorant people of this world. Unfortunately, they live everywhere. Idiots don’t understand empathy, kindness and respect for other cultures and ethnicities. The ability to comprehend that we are all equal on this earth no matter our race, religion, allegiance, sexual orientation or education seems to be a very disturbing fact. Although, great strides have been taken to educate people that prejudices and racism are wrong, idiots will, unfortunately, continue to live among us like an open wound that won’t heal. I’m so sorry that your family had to endure this abomination of humanity yesterday.

  73. Let me say that I’m very sorry for what happened to your family on what should have been a nice spring day. I am particularly saddened by your daughters exposure to that kind of senseless hate, and how she now must to come to terms with it as such a young and impressionable mind. I wish we lived in a world where bastards like that man didn’t exist.

    Still, I must say I think you are being unnecessarily hard on Jackie Ward. I agree silence can harmful, but I wouldn’t call her silent. I think she spoke up about her concerns and feelings using the tools she has and, from her background, what was respectful and allowed you to handle your own family. That may not be the social convention that you want, but it is what she knows/grew up knowing. It is one thing to defend a stranger, it is another to insert yourself in to an emotional reaction between a child and her mother. What would you have had her do? Come ask you if you were OK? Then what? What could she possibly offer your family after such an inflammatory and hurtful verbal and emotional attack? If you wanted to say your were saddened or discouraged by a lack of action during an obvious, extended and tangible confrontation I would understand, but the aftermath of such a rapid and unclear situation is not the same.

    Jackie used the voice she had to make a point about the all-too-real racial divide still in the country, and that was her way of defending your family, expressing the emotion that she had about your plight. There was not a blind eye turned, in fact, just the opposite. I could also understand a concern about the “public” sharing of the assault on your family, but since you yourself tweeted about it, and your family’s identity wasn’t exposed by the journalist, I don’t see how you can take issue with the article, especially since your next sentence denounces a do-nothing culture. I understand your concern with “white culture” being “all-too-polite” – its real, and sometimes its not the solution to the problems we encounter. But If you can’t see that this reporter was using her apparatus to address a problem that bothered her, rather than turning a blind eye, then I’m afraid you too need to rethink some of your positions.

  74. I’m so sorry that you and your family have to experience this at all, let alone in my home state. It is Infuriating and heartbreaking.

  75. I am so sorry this happened to your family. My heart is filled with sadness for what you endured and anger that there is so much hate and ignorance in this world. I do hope that your son and daughter read all the comments on here and will realize that there are many good people in this world (of all colors) who care about what happened to you. Thank you for telling your story.

  76. I am so very sorry that you and your family had to experience this! Being assaulted in a public space, especially when you are with your children, is so incredibly hurtful. I cannot begin to imagine the mix of pain, sadness, and anger that you must be feeling. My heart goes out to you! Sending prayers for your family, and especially for your young daughter on this Easter Sunday. May you have a day filled with blessings!

  77. I’m so sorry this happened to such a loving and amazing family. It’s not okay, will never be okay. I find it hard to believe that a person in the media didn’t stop to think about, at the very least, “getting the story.” In that moment, whiteness ruled out: turning a family’s public pain and humiliation into an self-congratulatory anecdote without asking if the family it happened to was okay with it being shared at-large. With public platforms comes a responsibility to not speak for people about their experiences. On a human level instead of a media one and it affected this reporter deeply, why not approach? White “politeness” like someone said is violence. To the man who did cross the street and speak to your family, I am grateful to him for being a helper and a footnote. You can’t make an impact looking for a swell of applause.

    Thank you for sharing and writing. I am always humbled by your strength. Your family shouldn’t have to be this brave. All my love, thoughts, and light.

  78. I wish the world could get to a place where the only effect of someone using the word nigger would be to make the user look like the white trash scum they are acting like. It shouldn’t cause a moment of shame of fear to anyone but them. I wish the power of it was gone.

    I live in Ireland where the word doesn’t have the same cultural significance, but there are those idiots who throw it around like it makes them bigger, still. Even though they really have no idea what it means.

    It’s hard for me to believe it’s still out there. But so clear that it is. This story is just heartbreaking.

  79. This is terrible. I couldn’t read this and not comment. What happened is not okay, and I’m so sorry that it did.

  80. I am so very sorry that your family had this happen and that your daughter and family was subjected to such vile behavior. My husband and I are white and have adopted 2 black children. We live on the outskirts of Washington D.C. I am dreading the day when my children have to deal with this. I hope and pray everyday that it never happens, but sadly I know it will. My husband and I see the looks and stares. It makes me sad….I hope you and your family never experience it again.

  81. I wish more people had come forward to show your family their support in that situation, to demonstrate especially to your young daughter that this careless idiot was an exception and not the rule. I hope you are feeling that now with some of these replies. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had insults shouted at me from cars. While I’ve not directly experienced racism, I certainly know how it feels for someone to disregard your entire being and reduce you to a harshly judged physical attribute. I’d like to believe that if they thought about that and about how hurtful they are, that they’d choose otherwise, but I’m not that naive. The simple truth is, those of us who are better than that are better than that. That it bothers you is to your credit that you’ve not cut off the world, but the best victory is learning to let it go, to not give them that power in your life. I’m betting you’ve felt relief in the past after a similar even… After the shock wears off, remembering who you are, feeling the pulse of your pride, letting it go because it’s that idiot who with no understanding of kindness or humanity that should be pitied. The rest of us live in a much better world than he does. Don’t let him pull you into his world! That completes my pep talk. 🙂 Miss you and hope you are well!

  82. Wow. This is eye opening. Reading this has really hit me. Might be the first time hearing about racism has actually made me empathize with the victim and made it “real” for lack of a better word. Sometimes it feels like it’s something from another time or place. People say they wish they could do something…you can. What’s the saying? “Evil wins when good people remain silent”. I like to think I, along with others, would’ve been running along with the young man if only to make sure he was ok while he gave them a piece of his mind. Shameful. I hope the offenders read this article, realize the impact of their actions and develop the character to come forward and find a way to make this right (of course that’s a lot of character to develop overnight).

  83. My heart goes out to this family. 90% of people are kind and thoughtful. There are bad apples in every bucket and with them, you have to ignore their comments. They are ignorant. No matter what the color of your skin, the size of your body, or your sexual preference we have to keep saying to ourselves: sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. What happened to you today in not just a black and white issue, these things happen every day to fat people, gay people, school kids that are bullied and handicapped people. Emotionally it hurts, but ignore those 10% that just showed how ignoant and sad they really are.

  84. Thank you for telling your story, and for giving me (a white woman) some more ideas on what to do when I hear someone verbally assault someone.

  85. Im sooo sorry your family had to deal with those rude, crude, ignorant boys! I’m sure their parents are really proud of their behavior & ignorance, but maybe it was taught by them! Unacceptable no less. My heart aches for you & your family.

  86. It is 2015! Selma was happening when I was 15. It is tremendously painful that after all of these years people have learned so little. How can anyone feel good about hurting another human being? May peace be with your family this Easter Day. May the idiots of the world stay far from you – and should this happen again – may a mob of outraged people of every color chase that car.

  87. Rather than a commentary on the issue or.personalized example, I want only to acknowledge YOUR experience. Simply, I’m so sorry your day was usurped by strangers. Thankful for the one person who came forward to offer comfort. His gesture impacted you enough that you mentioned him. I’m sorry your perfect Spring Day became an ugly emotional storm. Remembering you and your family, Grace

  88. It is their loss they will go through life blind to the opportunities of knowing & being a part of humanity. Ignorance will limit them on enjoying our beautiful blended world and all of its gifts. I have pity for the them & pray they open their eyes & hearts. I’m sorry for the pain your family suffered I pray it NEVER happens again. Please accept my apologies as a member of humanity for the wrong that was inflicted upon you and your family.

  89. Two comments:

    1) I shouldn’t have read the comments’ section of the article recapitulating Jackie Wards’ take on the events.

    2) I remember telling a friend not too long ago that white racism is, for the most part, predictable to the point where you can always map their next move: in this instance, she centers herself in YOUR story. She attempts to construe herself as an “ally” by simply re-telling her eyewitness account of the event, without expending any vital energy–the energy required to make a change–to intervene in the situation. This woman is using your painful experience as a career opportunity. If she was really invested in “doing something,” as she ironically implored her audience to do, she would have taken her cowardly ass across the street to offer [white] solidarity, which is what you surely needed at that moment.

  90. I live in a very non traditional mixed race home. I am white, male and gay. I have a housemate, with whom I have lived who is black, latino, male and gay. We have liv ed together, as friends and housemates, for nearly 20 years. I understand that, even here, in Maine, while I, a white male, might go thru a yellow light and be given a warning by a police officer, my housemate, doing the same thing, will likely be ticketed. He has the distinction of being both black AND gay.

    I also understand your son’s frustration at being called names. When I was in school it was shouted in the stairwells at me, in front of teachers, in my face, repeatedly every day. I was a fag, faggot, queer, gay. You name it, I heard it in the halls and sometimes even in the classroom. I too finally had enough one day and actually got back in one of my tormentors faces. At which time the teacher told us to *break it up*. The question is, why did those same teachers NOT tell the tormentors to stop tormenting me for four years prior, but, as soon as I stood up for myself, a teacher was quick to intercede?

    I can say that, today, I am a much stronger person for the tormenting and bullying I underwent in school. Still, how might my life have been different had I not been bullied and tormented?

  91. I’m a white woman who speaks openly about race and racism. I’ve been formally educated in social issues. I (humbly) consider myself more awake than most white folks. But… I have to apologize. I am at times guilty of the silence of which you speak.

    I often will look for institutional racism when I am out in public, but this article makes me think I do not speak up enough. When I am in doubt that there is something to say, I stay silent for fear of making a mistake. When I was a young woman, I was called out cruelly and unjustifiably for something someone considered racist. I didn’t want to ever inflict that pain on another person. So I speak up only when I’m sure something is purposefully ignorant and rude. Your situation would have been an easy one to judge. Others aren’t so plain. Perhaps there is a way I can at least raise a question. Perhaps I can find some compassion in my act of speaking, both for the offended and the offender (of which I’ve been both).

    Thanks for making me re-think myself… or check my privilege, as the kids say. You did the right thing by posting this.

  92. God Bless you and your Family . Those boys do not represent all people from Maine. Yes, you are correct UGLE can live anywhere.

  93. I felt the pain of this just in your recounting of it and find myself fighting angry tears. The first time I was called this, I was a 2nd-grader in a new school. It was a predominantly black school and yet the sole white student in the class felt comfortable enough to yell this out at me because as the class monitor I had written down his name. In my anger — and without the tools to craft another response — I punched him, desperate to make him take back what he said. He didn’t and I never spoke to him again — not that year or in the following years we attended school together. I also never forgot those words or how deeply they stung. Thinking of you and your family today.

  94. Having grown up in Maine and being white I can’t only relate to half the story. First thank you for sharing. Second im sorry that some idiot punks said a very hurtful thing. I would have joined your son had I been there. That is not the Maine of my youth I never heard that word said while growing up. If I had used it and my mom heard me I would not be typing this right now. I hope that you and your family have a good Easter God Bless.

  95. I’m so sorry you had that experience in my home state and in a city I called home for many years.

  96. As a mother, I want to say that I am sorry that your family had to hurt like that. I am white and so I can never say I know how it feels to be targeted because of the color of my skin. I do know what it is like to watch your child be hurt because they are targeted for one reason or another. Yes, it is about race but it is also about intolerance of anybody being different than somebody else. It is about people not standing tall and accepting ignorance and hatefulness as okay. Or being afraid to speak up. I have spent many years fighting for my daughter to be able to attend school and not come home in tears, so I do understand helplessness to control what people say and do. I offer my apology as a Mainer that we have that kind of ignorance. But know that not all of us are like that. I would see your family as nothing more than a beautiful happy family and do nothing other than to give you a smile and wish you a good day, as I would anybody else. Please make sure that your son and daughter know that there are many of us that would speak up for you. Bless you all.

  97. Written with a pen of fire. (Okay, keyboard of fire); important statements that should be widely read and anthologized. Now add copyright info and statement that they cannot be used commercially without your written permission.

    • I’m really offended by the term “white American culture” and the description of it being “all-to-polite.” Really? That’s a pretty broad brush to be using to paint a picture that has, in my opinion, much more nuance. Reservedness is something that I have observed in many culture, classes and ethnicities. In some cases it may be part of the culture in which the person was raised. One does not speak to whom they have not been introduced. It may be out of stark fear of somehow getting involved. Or it could just be indifference. In any case, to pair that description to just one skin color or nationality is just as racist.

  98. what can I do to help? I really mean it, I would like to be involved in turning this around. It pains me to hear this stuff, I don’t want your little girl to grow up in this racist climate, no one deserves this kind of treatment. Please contact me, I care!

  99. I feel sick that your family was subjected to that ugliness. People suck, and I wish they didn’t. All that I can do is teach my kids that people are people, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other differences. At the end of the day, we all bleed, we all have feelings, and we all need to be loved and accepted.

  100. Thank you for writing about it and sharing your words with all of us. I’ve heard you speak and have read lots of your writing and you do it in a way that provokes, challenges and inspires all at once.

  101. I am grateful that such a strong and articulate woman us raising her family in our state. Could we turn our comments toward what each of us could do to make our communities more hospitable? I promise myself never to turn away from an incident of name calling without calling out the callers or looking the recipients in the eye and saying, “they’re talking about their lives, not yours.”

  102. I am honestly speechless and so sorry that something so horrific happened to you. I feel I would have been the person to come to you and your family and be apologetic for something someone else done to you and your family. I am disgusted by humility sometimes. I live in the Portland area and would never expect this type of behavior down here. I grew up in PA and after moving here in 1999 I find there are very racist people here, but found them to be more predominant in the northern areas. My own in laws are guilty of it and I am sickened by what falls out of their mouth sometimes. But please know that I stand by you and your family and wish the beat for you all.

  103. Thank you for writing about this awful incident and for sharing your feelings and those of your family. I wish I could fix racism and that no one would be subjected to such harmful and threatening behavior again. I’m sorry it happened; I’ll share your story.

  104. Just awful! One of my friends witnessed the incident and posted on FACEBOOK. Everyone who commented was horrified and repulsed as I was. We can’t take away the humiliation and grief you felt, but I believe most people in greater Portland are on your side

  105. I’m really sorry to read/heat about this. Try to stay positive and don’t let it deter you from other nice days with your family. You absolutely did the right thing speaking up and writing about it.

  106. I am embarrassed and offended, as a human, that you and your family were subjected to such vile hatred by other humans. I am not a black person, so I can’t imagine what it truly feels like to walk in your shoes.
    However, none of us have any idea what it’s like to walk in Jackie Ward’s shoes, either. No one really knows what they would say or do. The shock value alone takes time to process. Perhaps she felt the last thing the family wanted was an apologetic white girl in their face? She did nothing wrong here, and is not deserving of any negativity. Ms. Ward made a post, as a person, a seemingly very compassionate person, describing how horrified she was to witness such ignorance and hatred. I mean, really, what could she have said to this family to ease the pain? She dealt with it the way she knows how, with written words, to try and prevent future wrongs. Further, how people can find fault in her use of the word ‘adorable’ is beyond me.
    Vilifying Jackie Ward only encourages her to remain silent the next time she encounters a similar situation. I applaud her for telling the story.

  107. I understand this even as a white male living in maine. There is no excuse. I have been called racist names by other races such a cracker or snowflake right in my home town and threatened while verbally defending my heritage being threatened with violence shortly after by a group of more people showing up to threaten me. while knowing this other person started it the group of people stood down only after finding out that he was a racist against white people. I’m saying this because even in maine we have samples of the racism happening all over the place and it is not just happening by one race alone but seems there is a resistance by all to become desegregation.

  108. This sent chills up my spine. I kept trying to desperately understand the terror you felt, and as White woman it’s virtually impossible for me to understand. I can say that I’m saddened and outraged by this experience you and your family endured. Thank you for sharing and offering much needed perspective.

  109. As the stepfather of someone who married a beautiful young lady from Zambia, I shudder at the thought that one this very thing is going to happen to them and their two very beautiful (I’m a very happy and proud grandparent) children. My only solace is in knowing that the two of them (the parents) have the fortitude to persevere in a situation you so elloquently relate in this blog.

  110. I’m so sorry. That is a steaming pile of BS and it makes me sick that anyone could be so utterly vicious and disgusting, especially when one of the victims is a child. I shared your words. You make a difference.

  111. Our family adopted a baby from India,years ago. and as friend “s wondered at her skin color ,with a white family, her clever resort was,, ” People will have a rude awakening, when they reach the golden gates,and come face to face with God, and HE will be a dark skinned God.

  112. Why is everyone so focused on racism or the gay community? What about the autistic or severely retarded children who are neglected and abused everyday? So, you got called a name? Do you realize how many autistic children are abused and bullied at school? So you were called a name, grow up and stop screaming. You knew when you got into a mixed relationship this was going to happen. This is reality, not make a social media story. I actually don’t care either way, stop making this such a problem. We have kids that are neglected and abandoned because they “are different” not bi-racial. Stuff like this fuels the fire. If you are so “concerned” about your child, why not introduce her to the “challenged” child?

  113. Racism is a two way street. Let each of us examine our own hearts and see if we are guilty of judging an entire race upon the actions of a few. When we react to evil with evil that only makes us evil. It is not the color of a mans skin that makes him evil, it is his heart. You do a disservice to your children to teach them to react in this way. Let those that did evil against you be ashamed, not justified. The media in this country is doing everything it can to create a race war. When you speak poorly of white people as a whole, are you any better than the bigots? Yes we have a race problem in this country, but if your not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. I hear a lot of condemnation about what bad white people are doing, but all I see is justification for what bad black people are doing. Is this supposed to heal these relationships? Evil cannot be justified regardless of the skin color of the one that does it. May you find the strength to overcome evil.

  114. Being black, and also living in Maine; drew me to this story. I’ve grown to love this state, and although it is very “white” I have not had an encounter such as this in the 8 years I’ve been here. They have embraced my blackness with curiosity, and reverence. I am not saying racism doesn’t exist in Maine, racism is alive and well in all 50 States of the United States. I am sorry your family experienced this, and proud of your son for standing against it! God created us in His own image, we, all Nationalities/Race; are human and have a divine soul that belongs to the Creator. When we realize we have more in common than not, we can live in harmony, and embrace the differences that make us unique. Blessings!

  115. I’m sorry this had to happen. I’m glad you spoke out about, and am happy that others that witnessed are speaking out. There is a huge problem with the system/society. It’s not just one car of idiots, it’s bigger than that. And we have to be part of that change.

  116. I understand racism is still a thing in the US, and around the world, and we’re all correct in the fact that it’s not good thing. We’re all the same under our skin, and we shouldn’t be judged by it’s color.
    So, why do you feel the need to consistently point out that you’re a black girl, in a “white” area, and that the news anchor, who innocently though she was helping, was white? Just from reading the first few paragraphs in your blog, it looks to me like you leave the house every day looking for a fight. Well, you found the fight, and now you’re turning the tables. You’re using the internet and social media to hang your head out the window, and cyber bully a white girl. And I’m not saying what she did was right or wrong, I’m saying that you should be ashamed of yourself, because you are part of the problem.

    • Since in skin color we are talking ONLY about a genetic variation… in the ideal world “the color of your skin” should not be an issue —- since all of us—- accept actual albino’s are variants of tan/ black/ brown/ red/ yellow/ orange skin tone hues…. but we are anything but living in the ideal world… and this is particularly true of the historical antecedents of the United States. Beginning with the Boston based “Liberty Laws of 1641” where the Puritan oligarchy changed the terms of Indenture servants within English Civil law; that is, the “Boston Don’s” decided if you were “of color” you could be indentured for life; if no so, your term would remain that of 7 years…. we have consistently discriminated against those that we have identified as “of color”. Hence even though the genetic make up of the African prisoner who survived slavery in the United States is far more superior to that of the European colonial … he/ she is still delegated to the back of the bus in the United States and is still subjected to the crumbs that the “entitled white ” is willing to throw out — that is why we need such debate as this ! AND WE ARE ALL A PART OF THE PROBLEM!

  117. Thank you for being so wise and sharing your insight with all of us. I pray that one day we truly will live in a place where the color of your skin doesn’t matter to anyone.

  118. Hang in there and be strong. Not all of us are ignorant crackers (although certain segments of the Republican party would like to see that). I suspect the vast majority of Mainers are on your side in this.

  119. As a black woman living in Portland, this has happened to me several times in public. Burns every time. Thank you for your thoughts on silence being complicit.

  120. Thank You for writing. I am sorry you and your family had to experience that. I shout out in love what they shout in hate. “Hey family! Happy Spring! I’m so glad we get to share this sunny day.”

  121. This is quite an unfortunate coincidence as my SO and I took a couple of boys from the school he teaches at to Old Port to walk around for the day this past Saturday. Two of the boys were black, one Mexican, my SO is also black, and our mixed baby were crossing the street when a car drove by with two white boys hanging out of the windows with their shirts off yelling things at us (most of which we couldn’t understand) and pointing. I did catch a “monkey” and “fuckers” in the words they were spewing. I would like to think this is just one sad miserable group of boys who likes to terrorize unsuspecting shoppers with derogatory words but this is not the first time we have experienced these incidents in Maine and I doubt it will be the last…

  122. Come to London. No, it’s not free of racism but it is unrecognisably better than pretty much anywhere in the USA. People get fired for playing songs on the radio that have that word in, behaviour like that if those men is illegal and, in London at least, that law is actually upheld. How the USA continues to call itself The Land Of The Free is beyond belief. If nothing else, come to London to take a look around. You’ll love it.

  123. In American popular culture it has become a cliche, against all that history has shown, that white people come to the aide of oppressed minorities; Mississippi Burning, Dances With Wolves, on and on. As if to blur the reasons why the intervention is needed,and to allow us to feel that, in spite of the horrors of genocide, slavery, Jim Crow, when push came to shove, the benevolent white person would come to the rescue. The underlying message being “youl need us to save you from us”.
    I can’t imagine the resentment you must feel.
    As to the assault on your family, as a white male, were this to happen to my son and my daughter I would feel revulsion, fear for my children, and rage.
    That is how far I could understand it, again, as a white guy.
    I will never be able to comprehend how a person of color could feel having grown up with the possibility of hearing daily this hatred and evil. And then to see it directed at their children.
    I’m so sorry you and your family still has to.

  124. As a half-black girl from Portland, Maine, I remember this feeling all too well. I must have been about 12, in 7th grade, when a boy called me that nasty word and I crumbled in shock. That experience, in front of my classmates, was of course in the pre-internet world (20-something!) years ago, handled poorly by the vice principal who simply told the boy to leave me alone. With your case, this vile act happened in public, on the street, and then your privacy was invaded by the reporter, who turned your family’s pain into a viral story. As a former reporter, I was trained to take privacy very seriously, very sensitively, especially regarding children. Regardless of the reporter’s race, or her own intentions in sharing your story, it seems that she did not ask permission to share it, and that’s something we are seeing more and more in this time of viral media. The end result is that there is a public outcry, and we are all talking about it. Thanks for sharing your story in your own words. Let’s hope there will be a greater good to come out of this.

  125. I am so very sorry that that happened to you and your family. The actions of ignorant people over shadow the love of neighbors and friends who would miss you terribly if you moved away from your quiet little hamlet. Please, don’t go.

  126. I shared the story, Shay, with folks who attended the Kusum Room conversation last month. We’ll be meeting next Monday and my hope is we’ll spend some time on this. I’m thinking of you and your family and reflecting on my role as a citizen in this community.

  127. It is unfortunate that your children had to go thru this, and as parents you were not able to protect them from it. Continue to educate your children to refrain from sinking to the level of the twits who don’t have better sense. Teach them their heritages of a people who have come a long way just to maintain dignity. Knowledge is power, use of knowledge is more powerful. Don’t let someone’s lack of knowledge trump what is good and true. [Yes, we are also a biracial family in the Brunswick area.] Teach your children to stand tall and to walk tall, like their parents. Teach them well how to use the wisdom you impart to them. There is no way to kill that spirit in them that is grounded in sound teaching of truth. Contact me anytime.

  128. Bless you and your family. I wish things like this didn’t have to happen. I wish people had the self esteem cannot need to call any one else derogatory names. Please know this is not your family. No this is not your son or your daughter. This is the fault of the young man and his raising. He’s a small person with a small heart and an even smaller soul.

  129. I am so sorry you had to encounter young guys who probably thought they were being funny. What they said was needless..hurtful and it hurts my heart that it is still being said anywhere.
    I could say Really!? That is how you address someone who has a different color skin than you do. How horrible that you think that is ok…it isn’t and it
    never should be..

  130. Dear Mrs. Stewart-Bouley, I am sorry for the experience that your family had. I find it more embarrassing that no one, aside from the man, displayed real humanity. I believe that we, mothers of black children, will always remember the first time someone called our child that hate filled word. What struck me the most was your son’s response and the way you framed it. I couldn’t agree more. Clearly, sometimes it just becomes too much. The anger and frustration understandably wins. Thank you for sharing this moment. I hope that people use it to learn something.

  131. I just moved to Portland from Oakland, CA this week. If this happens around me in the future, I’ll be running alongside your son. I won’t tolerate this type of hateful ignorance.

  132. I am very sorry. I think the only way to rid society of this filth is to teach each new generation that everyone is equal. We have similar issues because my son is disabled. People have called him retarded. He has never been invited to a birthday party, he is teased and kids don’t play with him. He has no friends. It isn’t the same, but we do know what it is like to be ridiculed. I am so sorry. Prayers to you and the kids.

  133. Thank you for this well written piece. I am a Caucasian woman with a bi-racial son and the racism he has faced, my ex-husband and I faced as a couple, and my ex faced throughout his life burns scars deep into one’s soul.

  134. I can’t express how deeply I am sickened by the actions of those ” hateful white idiots”. Please tell your children ( one more time) that MOST people who live here are NOT racest. Unfortunately, we can’t control the hearts or mouths of everyone, and these are the SAME idiots that cat call a pretty young girl, make fun of an overweight person at a restaurant, or flip the finger to a slow elderly driver. Truth is, there are rude, mean, idiots everywhere… and they try to make themselves feel better by hurting others…. anyone who isn’t like them. I am so sorry this happened to you. I wish I had been there because I would have been running after that car WITH your wonderful son. I will be remembering your story always, and I promise, if I ever witness anything like it…. It will NOT be ignored!!! Xo

  135. As an Anglo-Saxon guy with a daughter in college in Maine, who works in public service in a mostly black city, I was very upset by this. There is no expiration date on stupidity and no excuse for it whatsoever. I just wish I’d been there to help chase that racist jerk down, yank him out of his truck, and introduce him to the concepts of “accountability” and “responsibility” for one’s words and actions.

    I’m sure he’s very proud of something he can claim only by a freak of genetics (the melatonin content of his skin), and is still struggling to pass his GED.

    And tell your kids I love them, they’re better human beings than anyone who insults them, and that they each have the mouse in their nose that I have placed there through a series of mystical rituals that I have done for my daughter and her friends since they were toddlers many years ago — the mouse is guaranteed to cure colds, flu, and allergies, and help kids study for tests. It always made my daughter and her pals feel better.

  136. Just thinking about how terrible you must have felt brings tears to my eyes. It really amazes me how some people can be so cruel and hurtful to others without another thought as to how it affects the people to whom they are aiming their comments, not only for that moment but for the rest of their lives. Life is too short to have to deal with idiots like this and I am truly sorry that you had to be exposed to the ignorance of these horrible people.

  137. The problem here is so many young people are taught to hate others because they look different, whether their skin is darker or lighter, if they aren’t as pretty or are overweight, if their clothes aren’t name brand… It starts at home and reading these comments I’m not surprised that racism is still an issue in a time that the country is being run by a black man. People will always be miserable, there will always be someone who looks in the mirror and hates themself, they will then turn that hate on their family and others. It is a vicious circle. How do we stop it? How do you make insecure and unhappy people happy with whatever it is they aren’t happy with in their lives? We can’t because happiness is something only the person can give themselves so excuse me for being negative but this problem doesn’t appear to be solvable.

  138. this was absolutely awful. I am glad you wrote the entire story. Thank you for all your work and suggestions. I AM one white woman working for change. Right here in Boston and around sports teams’ identities–which I hope to use to open the full discussion on racism. Team fans come in all colors and sizes but in MLB it is mostly older white men and young white boys in little league. Some girls but certainly white families. If we can find a way to challenge the Native American stereotypes perhaps we can tackle all stereotypes? At least that is my hope.

  139. I was standing right in about that exact same place with my baby in a snuggly on my chest and that same sort of pack of white badly behaved boys drove by screaming “Cow!!” at me. They didn’t scream “nigger” because they think of you as less than human, but because they were trying to get a rise out of you, just like they figured “cow” might get a rise out of me. They’re driving around now looking for someone where they can yell something else. I am white as can be, and I’ve also had people on Cumberland Ave scream at me, when I was driving slow with Maine tags trying to find an address, that I should go back home to where I came from! People scream stupid stuff all the time. It’s not about you.

    • Jenny Yasi, please ask yourself calmly and thoughtfully if you would tell a person who had an anti-Asian slur or an anti-Semitic slur shouted at them in broad daylight in a crowded public area that “It’s not about you?”

      Yes, idiots shout all sorts of cruel or stupid things from passing cars, but I hope you agree that some verbal assaults are more personal than others.

  140. I am deeply saddened and enlightened at the same time. I cry for your sweet girl and for your race. I am white and can never fully understand this pain. I thank you for giving me a deeper knowledge, albeit far from complete, regarding the tragic racial division we have in this otherwise beautiful state of Maine. I was foolishly thinking “we’re good people up here – not like the haters down south.” I clearly need to do more thinking….
    I am so very sorry.

  141. in Holland the period of transferring slaves is portrayed as history and dark on all people but here it seams to continue sorry

  142. Had to weigh in. I feel so bad for your family. No one should have to experience that feeling of despair, especially a 9 year old. As a mom and grandma, I treasure our young ones and feel so sad when they do learn of the ugly hateful things one human can do or say to another. I, too, have had similar experiences but a bit different. I was a white older teen, in love with a Native American boy, visiting his family on a South Dakota reservation (oh and NOT catholic!) back in the early 70’s. I have been called many ugly names, shamed by my mother-in-law and many other family members -until they need money usually. Very few of them show my husband, myself or our wonderful family any respect. My mother in law would not even accept a kiss from her then 7 year old granddaughter a few years later. This took place years ago. I tired of fighting the battle. We moved frequently for my husband’s work (military) and found many bi-racial families that we became close friends with. We never stopped overnight to rest in many states when traveling to new assignments because many states are well known for their mistreatment of ANY bi-racial families. I had thought better of Maine. But I also know that things constantly change. We came to Maine to retire, to live out our lives and enjoy. I hope and pray you can do the same. Maybe one day our paths will cross and I will be happy to call you friend.

  143. I have been your daughter, even though I’ve never been to Maine.

    I was her in rural Pennsylvania when a group of wanna be confederates got their kicks calling my mother a nigger as she dropped me off for school.

    I have been your son when in that same area, a high school boyfriend threatened to hang me from a tree; he did this in his parents kitchen. I pulled a cleaver from his mother’s drawer and dared him from across their kitchen island to try.

    This is a sick first communion,; a jump in to a gang they put our babies through. Thank God they meet us on the other side with wisdom and so much love. Blessings to you and your family; especially your little one. I’m so sorry she has to be exposed to the hate.

  144. Your story broke my heart…I’m so sorry this happened to you. I grew up in Maine and have since lived many other places. I agree that intolerance and ignorance is unfortunately everywhere, but it sickens me that this happened to you in your home, a place that should feel safe and inclusive. Thank you for writing this story, silence is dangerous and your words will help.

  145. As the mother of two children I can relate to the fury, hurt, and blind sidedness you felt. Our moment happened on a spring day fourteen years ago when as I made my way to the door of a resturant with a three and a one year old in tow. I was alone in a crowded resturant in a large city I had recently moved to. I am a smaller sized individual and I found my path to the door blocked by two larger ladies. As they ridiculed me for being a n lover and questioned why I STOLE A BLACK MAN all I could do was run. I wish that I had had the courage your son has. I ran away, so glad he didn’t. Best of luck to your family.

  146. I actually live in Maine (not far from Portland) and it is pretty clear that this is one of the whitest states in the country. I found that out the hard way when I moved from California to Maine when I was in middle school. Everyone stared at me all the time. At first I thought it was because I dressed and acted differently than my peers, but I came to the conclusion it was also because I am mixed. I’m half white and half Mexican.

    In a populated area, like southern California, mixed racial ethnicities are more common and I fit in there. Here, I have been called “spic,” “wetback,” “mutt” etc. Some people made fun of my mother because she has a “thick” accent and talked to her like she was an idiot and that angered me. Even if some were joking around, it hurt and there was nothing I could really say or do that made that feeling go away.

    I feel hurt and anger reading you’re blog. I am torn by the fact that someone would think that it is “okay” to say such insensible words to a family walking down a street. It is sad, but true that ignorance is bestowed upon some people. Some people have not even lived anywhere else besides their torn up shack home on a farm in Nowhere, Maine. Be grateful for the things that most people who live here do not possess and that it is wisdom, bravery, and dignity.

    We, as people, need to take a stand together and fight for what is right, always. Stand up to people and say what you believe in. We can not let society think it is alright to let someone call a family “niggers,” because for God’s sake if it was a white family… we know it would be a different story.

  147. There is a longstanding issue of our stories being told for us by well-meaning people. “Selma” struck a chord with many because it didn’t tell the story through white surrogates as a “window into their world”. I think what BGIM is reacting to is her voice not being heard as part of what happened to her family.

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