Letter: Bystanders can stop harassment — they need only speak up

Posted 10/14/20

To the editor:

At a busy time last Sunday afternoon at Walker’s farm stand in Little Compton, I stood in line to buy two zucchini with many people, most of whom were wearing masks and social …

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Letter: Bystanders can stop harassment — they need only speak up

Posted

To the editor:

At a busy time last Sunday afternoon at Walker’s farm stand in Little Compton, I stood in line to buy two zucchini with many people, most of whom were wearing masks and social distancing. One couple who were wearing their masks way below their noses came far too close to me, so I asked them politely to please wear their masks properly since it was so crowded. 

The man in the couple proceeded to remove his mask and to yell right in my face, “No! Who are you? … A f- - - - - - Indian!” 

In the heat of the moment, I focused on the physical safety issue, replying, “Wow, you are putting everyone here in danger, this is irresponsible!” I was too nervous to even take in the racist attack on my ethnicity.

But driving home, shaking and very disturbed, I started to recount and reflect. Although I am not Indian, I am Latinx, that’s not really the point. I called Walker’s to see if anyone there had heard the racist attack. They were very apologetic and said everyone had heard it, even in the back room, and they thanked me for enforcing the mask policy.

If everyone heard it, why did no one respond? Bystanders can make a huge difference if they intervene, interrupt, or speak up to stop harassment. If just one brave person speaks up, others are likely to support them. Racism builds up over time for people of color, as it has for me, happening to me here in my community on almost a weekly basis. 

Please, let’s work together to communicate to everyone that racism and hatred of any kind are unacceptable, in whatever form they take.

Raúl H. Iriarte de Moore

Little Compton

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