I am writing to inform you of a terrible attack I suffered in one of your stores this week. The assault against me was so violent and oppressive that I had to immediately retreat to my healing space, where I lay whimpering on the floor for three and a half days, barely able to move or breathe. I emerge now, courageously, only because I must see that those responsible are made to answer for their crimes. I feel deeply triggered even speaking about it, but I must soldier on, in the name of #Justice.
It all started in the parking lot of my local Walmart. I was walking from my car to the store, minding my own business, when suddenly another customer, a man, walked up and accosted me. I should pause here and apologize to the transgender, agender, nongender, pangender, bigender, trigender, and quasigender communities if they feel offended or victimized because I’m labeling this individual a man. To be honest, he never mentioned his gender identity, and I would be the last person to ever assume anything about anyone. But in this case I feel comfortable guessing that the entity in question was a man because, in my experience, only cisgender white Christian Republican middle class heterosexual men are ever guilty of doing anything wrong. Anyway, I don’t really believe in labels, except for the five or six labels I just used in the previous sentence.
So, back to the incident. The man came alongside me, out of nowhere and without invitation, and immediately started sharing opinions with me. They were bad opinions. Opinions I didn’t like. Opinions that were different and confusing and scary. Opinions that shouldn’t exist. Opinions that made me feel delegimitized and otherized and vaporized. Literally vaporized. The opinions were like a death ray that zapped me and reduced me to ash and rubble.
Somehow, in the midst of this barrage, I was able to let out a desperate shriek. “STOP,” I yelled. “STOP. DEAR GOD. STOP.” He looked at me and even his look was offensive because I could tell in his head he was still thinking opinions that weren’t my opinions. “HOW DARE YOU DEVALUE MY LIFE EXPERIENCES,” I shouted.
He told me he had no idea what that meant. I could tell he’d never been to college. I put up my hands – just like they teach us in college – and started screaming “SAFE SPACE, SAFE SPACE, I’M IN MY SAFE SPACE” over and over again.
I thought that was the end of it. They told me in college nobody is allowed to think differently, and if anyone ever does think differently, all I need to do is run to my safe space. Everyone has to respect my safe space, which isn’t to be confused with my healing space, although my healing space must also be respected.
But these defenses were useless against the man. He only upped the ante. He insulted me. INSULTED ME. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? He formed words with his lips and ejected sounds from his throat and those sounds came out in the form of insults. He called me names. All kinds of names. All kinds of terrible, awful names. I’d repeat them here but I fear it would only cause others to experience the trauma I am now suffering.
I ran away from the man. I ran away as fast as I could, but he was still shouting words, and I felt like I might never escape. Eventually I made it into the store. In a haze of anxiety and confusion I grabbed several items from the shelf and tried to leave without paying for them. The manager stopped me. I explained to him that I’d just been insulted by some guy outside. He said he’s sorry about that but it doesn’t mean I get to steal.
Steal? STEAL? I’d just been mugged by opinions and insults moments earlier, and now I was being accused of doing something that I was in the process of doing? I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe any of it. Is there no end to the intolerance?
I have been meditating on this series of tragedies ever since that day. It has become clear to me, especially in light of the inspiring protests at the University of Missouri, that I have no choice but to demand the immediate resignation of Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.
You might call me ridiculous. You might say this story sounds at least partially fabricated. You might say that even if it isn’t, it has nothing to do with the CEO of the company, nor does it have anything to do with the company at all. You might say this was one unpleasant man who said unpleasant things, and there’s no reason why anyone from Walmart should have to answer for it. You might say there’s really no reason why anything at all should be done, frankly. People say mean things to other people sometimes, you might say. There’s not always a remedy or a recourse, nor should we try to find one, you might say.
But you are only saying this because you are white and privileged. I myself do not identify as white. My mother’s step-dad’s aunt’s hairdresser’s cousin visited an Indian reservation in the 50s, so I naturally consider myself part Cherokee — or Mohican or Aztec or whatever. Indeed, I suspect the man at Walmart probably chose to attack me because he harbors bigotries against Native Americans. At one point he even said “I harbor bigotries against Native Americans.” I know that doesn’t sound like something an actual person would say, even if they do harbor bigotries against Native Americans, but anyone who accuses me of exaggerating obviously harbors bigotries against Native Americans.
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