Kerry and Ben were marching with their scout troop in the Veteran's Day parade so the girls and I went to watch.
We went an hour early to make sure we could get a parking spot and a space to sit along the street. My friend Kim and her kids met us there. We set up our chairs behind some other families and chatted while we waited for the parade to start. We saw some other people we knew and we all visited and had a good time.
Then the parade started and everyone stood up and pressed forward to see the show. The family in front of us had spread some cheap beach mats on the ground and Katie stepped over them to get up to the street so she could see. Her legs weren't quite long enough and her foot landed on the edge of the mat as she crossed.
And the dad of that family went ballistic.
He started yelling and cursing at her, calling her a "#@%!ing haole". (Haole - pronounced howlie - means white person.) I didn't see what was happening, I just heard the man cursing so I stepped forward and looked at him and said "Watch your language, there are kids here!"
At which point his wife turned on me and started yelling at me. She was yelling at me and Kim that we were trying to get in front of them. Kim looked at her and said, "Seriously?" I said, "We aren't trying to get in front of you, we are behind you. We're just standing here." The woman pointed at Katie and I saw that a neighbor of ours named John had stepped up to Katie's defense. "Is that your family?" she snarled at me. "That's my daughter and she has every right to step up and watch the parade," I told her. I tried to keep as calm as possible because I didn't want this to escalate into physical violence. I could hear the man still shouting expletives and threatening to fight. John, thank goodness, is a tough soldier and wasn't backing down one inch.
The woman continued yelling at me, "If you wanted to be up front, you should have gotten here earlier!"
"We did get here early, but you all stood up in front of us when the parade started and she had to step forward to be able to see."
"Shut the $@#! up!" she said over and over.
At that point, I looked down at Katie again and she was gone. I looked in every direction trying to see where she had gone and then I took off in search of her. She had run around the corner and thankfully Emily had gone after her and was hugging her when I found them. Katie was sobbing, "That man swore at me! I want to go home!"
I got her calmed down and told her that we were not going to let that horrible family spoil our day. Two separate local women who had seen what happened came over and told us, "Some people are so prejudiced. I'm so sorry they did that to you."
We moved back up to the street and watched the parade and I pointed out everything fun to Katie. Someone handed her a balloon and someone else handed her an American flag to wave and she started to enjoy herself. But honestly, I was shaking like a leaf.
John told me later that when Katie had run off, he told the man, "Well, you made a little girl cry - are you happy now? Do you feel better?" Then John came over to Katie and said, "We should go make some more friends Katie, we seem to be good at it." That gave us a good laugh.
I didn't tell Kerry and Ben until the whole parade was over because I was afraid they would go after that man with a vengeance. The first words out of Ben's mouth were quite in favor of going back and kicking some serious you-know-what.
I keep thinking about what happened. It's the first time I've ever been treated that way since we've been here. I know there are locals who don't like that white people are here and they resent being part of the United States, but that's the first time we've had direct experience with it. What really bothers me is that he took it out on a little girl. If he'd really wanted to take out his anger on a white person, there were certainly plenty of them around who were bigger than she is.
Sir, if you had come to my home state, you would never have been treated like that. If your child (who was younger than Katie) had wanted to step up front to see a parade people would have gladly let her up there. If you don't want to be around white people, then you should probably stay home. And one more thing............
Shame on you.