Racist Waitress

Now that the twins are here, it seems like we attract attention everywhere we go. I’m not sure if it is the twin-thing, or the six-kids-in-the-city thing, but I can’t get through the grocery store or down the sidewalk without comments and questions from strangers. I know people (usually) have good intentions, so I’m (usually) happy to stop for a chat. At the very least, it is a nice excuse to branch out and talk to people I might otherwise pass by.

The other night we took the kids out to dinner at an old-school Italian place here in the city. As soon as we walked in, the comments started. “What a nice family!” “Wow, you don’t see big families like this anymore!” “I always wanted to have a lot of kids!” We took our places at the red-checker clothed table and I prayed the kids would behave.

Just as we opened our menus, a waitress from the other side of the restaurant approached us. She had a warm demeanor as she kindly complimented us on our large family. She fondly mentioned her own four children who are all now grown. And then she sweetly smiled wide and said:

Thank you for populating the white race.

My stomach sank. My mouth went dry.


I didn’t know what to say. Or do. I was completely unprepared to handle a comment like that. On one hand, I wanted to unleash on her racist ass: White race?! Try HUMAN RACE, you psycho lady. I didn’t give birth to these six miracles just to further your crazy cause, bitch. I think it is important to speak up when I see or hear an injustice. But, on the other hand, we were at a restaurant with our kids, and getting into an argument with a wacko while other people are enjoying a dinner out might not be the best plan. I chose the latter. There is no sense in trying to reason with such an unreasonable person.

But, part of me wonders if I should have spoken up. Could it have been an opportunity to teach my young kids about this whole, huge, multi-faceted race issue we have in our country? Maybe. I’m not sure. Fortunately, we live in a part of the city where people of all shades live, and on a very regular basis the kids and I have conversations about how people are different and special in so many ways. I hope we’re off to a good start to a continuing education that will last their lifetimes.

But, I am really bothered by the fact that this racist waitress thought Chris and I are “on the same team” as she. What is it about us that made her think a comment like that would be appreciated, accepted or agreed with? I don’t sympathize with any part of her nonsense, and much to her chagrin I’m mothering six people who will live against everything she stands for on that issue.

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11 Comments for this entry

  1. Donna R. says:

    I’ve been thinking about this. I agree with you on not arguing with crazy in person. Never works. What about sending an email or letter to the owner of the restaurant. That should know that one of their employees is making inappropriate comments. If they don’t find her comments offensive you can share your experience publicly.

    • Maureen says:

      I like this idea. I am going to email them now.

    • Maureen says:

      OK, so here is the email I sent:

      A few weeks ago we dined at your restaurant in Chicago with our six children. While everyone was very nice to us, one of your waitresses made a comment that has irked me ever since. Although she was very friendly and sweet, she thanked us for “populating the white race” with our large family. Her comment is racist and classless and does not at all align with our values or beliefs. The fact that she said it in front of children is even more bothersome. Perhaps you need to invest in some training for your staff. We will take a break from your restautant for a while – we love your pizza, but I can’t bring my kids to a place where people like her work.


      • Elizabeth Donovan says:

        Well stated letter. I understand that you didn’t want to cause a scene especially since it would have fallen on deaf ears. I think though you would have had a lot of support from patrons around you. I am not sure what I would have done in your place. It is just so crazy! As the mother of an African-American son, it breaks my heart that this truly ugly sentiment is so close to home in an urban area I thought was better than this. We still have so much work to do.

        • Maureen says:

          Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth! In hindsight, I wish I had spoken up. But, in the moment I was just so surprised and unprepared for a comment like that. It really took my by surprise, in the worst kind of way. Should this ever happen again, I will use my voice to shut her down.

  2. Anika says:

    I’ve been thinking on this a lot and floated the scenario by several people. And what many people of color feel is that the biggest impact against racist remarks comes when it comes from other white people – a person viewed as a peer by the racist. I totally agree that you don’t want to start a fight in a restaurant, but maybe a comment that it wasn’t ok, so that the woman knew it was not acceptable to spread her hate and so the impressionable eyes and ears at the table know to stand against racism as well.

  3. Gina says:

    Definitely should have left the restaurant, advising the manage why you are leaving…just my opinion. Not saying anything might confuse your children on what is right and what is wrong.

  4. Kendall says:

    Saw this article and thought of your incident. http://nyti.ms/2dWQlXY

  5. andy atlass says:

    that is such a downer for a night out. one could ask’ how’s that working out for you’ but she’s irony-proof. so sad..but i love the way you’re raising and
    informing your family. thank you for a big family of
    kind people.

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