I ran into what some people may call racism but I chose to call it stupidity. One day while I was working, a team lead came in to the toy store on his day off. I walked out of the storeroom just as he and his nephew came to the door. I stopped and smiled. The kid, who was about eleven years old, hid behind his uncle. I did not think much of it because sometimes kids are afraid of me. Hell, I was a giant beanpole who spoke with a strange accent. He stood there for a few minutes, his uncle trying to cajole him to talk to me, but the kid cowered behind him. His uncle became irritated and shouted at the kid, demanding that he stop being stupid. His face was red with embarrassment; his brown freckles looking like they would ooze blood. He shouted to the kid that I was not an animal, just black. Up until that point, I did not think that the kid would be afraid of me because I was black. I could not decide if I should be offended or just brush the comment off. The uncle insisted that the kid introduce himself and slowly the kid began talking – not to me, but to some invisible being behind me.
Suddenly, the uncle asked me to watch the kid and walked into the storeroom. I looked at the little fella; he was looking at me as if I was the boogieman about to drag him into a dark hole. I bent over, smiling, and I could tell he was apprehensive. For some reason, an evil idea popped into my head. So, using my natural instinct to bridge the racial gap between this kid and me, I leaned forward, smiling, showing off my perfect white teeth. He smiled back nervously. After a second, I began snarling like a rabid dog. The kid’s face turned blood red. Then he screamed and ran away like the kid in the first “Home Alone” movie. Now that may not have been the most intelligent thing to do, but what the hell, at the time I thought it was funny as shit.