My husband and I recently took our daughter and a dozen of her friends to the movies. It was a children's movie matinée. Our group took up an entire row in the theatre and so I sat right in front of them. A few minutes before the show began, a visible minority family walked in and sat next to me, one seat down. The lights dimmed and the previews started. We were off to a great start. The kids sat behind us munching on their popcorn, slurping their drinks, eager to see the movie start.
A couple of our boys started slurping their drinks a little louder (which is what is likely to happen with a bunch of eight and nine year olds). I looked back a couple of times and asked them to keep it down as we didn't want to disturb anyone else. The woman sitting beside me however thought it alright to turn around and tell my group of kids: "YOU ARE SO ANNOYING." While this was rude and uncalled for (there were kinder ways to ask kids to quiet down), I did not say anything to her, but rather smiled at the boys and asked them to keep it down.
This woman then proceeded to use her cellphone for the following 20 minutes. When I leaned over and asked her to please put it away as it was very bright, she started yelling and swearing at me. She called me an F'ing racist and that my kids needed to learn their manners. Which, if nothing else, was ironic (I'm guessing she didn't get a good look at me because it was dark). When she continued using profanity at me and my group I went and got a theatre manager. When I returned she continued to use profanity for "ratting her out." After an exchange with theatre management her husband (who had been relatively quiet until this point) started yelling that his wife did nothing wrong and this *itch (me) was causing the trouble.
The managers stepped in and asked the couple (with their roughly three-year-old daughter) to leave the theatre. I moved to the side but not before she AND her husband yelled at me in the crowded theatre and called me an F'ing TERRORIST repeatedly. I slumped down in my seat when they left the room and I felt my body shake. I looked back at the kids who were staring ahead at the screen. None of them made eye contact with me. I wasn't sure how much they had heard or if they were just trying to be polite and not comment on what had just happened. While I maintained my calm for the sake of my daughter and her friends, I cannot get the incident out of my mind.
I had thought to keep this to myself. I had thought to just let it go but the fact is, I live in the province and country where I was born and I am proud. This is my home. I speak up for those who have experienced racism and hatred. I speak up now because I stayed silent for my daughter. I stayed silent out of respect for her friends who only wanted to enjoy an afternoon of fun. But right now, I write. I write because it is NEVER alright to call someone a F'ing terrorist unless they have just killed or terrorized people. The same way we would never dare to use the N word or attack people of the Jewish faith.
I write because I am tired of walking on eggshells. I get it. There's a lot of politics out there. There are some genuinely bad Muslims. The same way there are genuinely bad Christians, Atheists, and the list goes on. To throw an entire race or religion under one hateful umbrella of a word is unacceptable. Some of my closest friends are Mormon, Jewish and Atheists. Their faith plays little part in our friendship. If anything it encourages us to get to know one another, to share baked goods on our holidays and teach our kids what it means to live in a pluralistic society. To teach our kids that a persons faith or the colour of their skin does not make them any better or worse than anyone else. That it is their character and how they are with others that makes them a good person.
Does the colour of my skin or the fact that I wear a piece of cloth on my head make it alright to lambaste me in public in front of my child and her friends?
While I am cognizant that this woman and her husband do not represent an entire race, I write this because this happens all too often. Religious and visible minorities experience racism, hatred and vile comments such as this more often than you might care to think. I write this because the next time someone of a different faith, culture or skin colour than you ticks you off, choose another adjective to express yourself. It is NEVER alright to call someone an F'ing Terrorist.
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