Thursday, October 09, 2008

What Would You Do?

My husband takes his clothes to be dry-cleaned at a neighborhood shop. The owners are Korean and very nice and friendly. After using their services for close to a year my husband confessed to me that he thought the Korean wife, who handles the customers, always made complimentary comments about my younger son, and offered him candy, and ignored my older son. Here's the deal, my younger son is pale with loosely curled hair. My older son's skin is honey brown and tight curls cover his head. They're both beautiful, but you see where I'm heading with this right?

I told my husband he was probably imagining it. That the baby was still a baby and attracted more attention. I guess I didn't want to admit what might be happening. Two years passed and the behavior didn't change, according to my husband. What's worse, my older son started to notice. My husband was enraged (and please note, he's a teacher so he doesn't go to the dry-cleaner all that often) and wanted to say something to the woman, confront her on her preferential treatment, explain the painful legacy of the color complex in the African-American community (yes, my husband is a pale Spaniard). Do something!

I told him that what he should do is stop patronizing this shop, because that would have the greatest effect. Send a message. But maybe I was wrong.

What would you do?

Peace!

10 comments:

Mango Mama said...

I'm with you. Stop patronizing the business and maybe tell the woman why you will no longer be using her services, but it's definitely time to find a new dry cleaner.

Ananda said...

I agree with Mango Mama Lori. I think your family should go in the spirit of compassion and share how the treatment makes you all feel. Educate the Korean dry cleaner. Tell them that you cannot patronize businesses that make your family feel uncomfortable and disrespected. Tell them that you want your children to grow up in a country that accepts and respects everyone's ethnicity and skin color. Bless and thank them for teaching your family a much needed lesson in shopping where people respect your entire family and move on. We all have to learn our lessons in our own time. I know the universe is opening up a space for another dry cleaner with love and respect for all people in your family's lives. Peace, Ananda

Christina said...

I agree with the first two posts. Stop patronizing the business, but make sure you convey the reason for your decision (and maybe give them a chance to rectify the situation?).

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I agree with the other posters.

I hope that is not what she is doing but if it is, bye bye and make sure she knows why.

Kohana said...

I don't have any advice, just the comment that skin-tone preference (the lighter the better) is strong in many Asian communities. Unfortunately, I don't think this sentiment is very uncommon.

LT said...

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate them all. I still struggle with the idea of telling the woman anything. But I know that's how lessons are learned and there is a nice way of being an educator. Meanwhile the hubby has moved on to a new dry-cleaner.

glamah16 said...

I agree with Kohana and have seen this from a cosmetic perpective with the Asian community, but I dont want to sterotype either. Anyway, I agree with the others and stop patronizing the business and explain why.

Anonymous said...

I really hate ignorance and try to enlighten at every chance. I would go back to the cleaners so she would do the same thing again and say, "No thank you, since you don't have candy for BOTH of my sons we don't want any. By the way this is my last visit to your shop." I would actually go out of my way to go back there just to say that. Of course I could be ruder, (cause it makes me mad) but that just defeats the ignorance and the subsequent lesson - if she gets it!

Waiting for Zufan! said...

We live in a predominately Asian community, and just wanted to add that yes, the preference for lighter skin does seem to be very strong. So I'm sure you are not imagining it.

On the other hand, many Asian people who are new to the US simply have not had any exposure to darker-skinned people. Not that ignorance is ever and excuse -- just maybe an explanation. We found a Chinese grandma to babysit Zufan for 3 hours a week, and Zufan (from southern Ethiopia) has been the hit of the elderly Chinese community. She is a novelty; but mostly in a good way, I'd say!

Good luck figuring it out! I'm sure you'll find a good solution.

Anonymous said...

don't know how old your children are, but maybe she was just giving "the baby" candy.