I shook off the rain, and joined the back of the line. I heard the door behind me reopen, and an addle-brained voiced rang out:
"You should go back to Africa and take your American money with you!"
I don't think that I was as shocked as the 20 or so other patrons at Tim's. They all just nervously looked at the man as he retreated back outside. The restaurant fell silent for a few seconds as people looked around. The servers resumed filling orders. There was a noticeable awkwardness in line, as the people ahead of me shuffled forward in line. No one looked up.
When I went to order my coffee, my voice cracked. It wasn't until then that I realized how shaken I had been. I hadn't felt overly threatened by the man following me and his racist outburst. Maybe it was the disturbed non-response from those in the restaurant. I cannot definitively say.
In light of Sunday's March Against Racism in Vancouver (which I did not attend, nor had any interest to), this little event opened my eyes. People still do not know how to react to overt displays of racism. I don't even know how to react, so I cannot blame them.
As a black individual, I've been exposed to prejudices as long as I can remember, at least since grade school. Each instance frustrates and bewilders me. I'm as far from stereotypical as just about any black male could be. I'm often accused of being "not black enough". As a professional, I have strived to make everything about my abilities and accomplishments. The colour of my skin is only that, the colour of my skin.
As I shake off this experience and continue on with my week, the colour of my skin continues to have no other bearing on who I am nor does it limit my capability.