My husband was drawing outside Café du Monde in New Orleans this weekend, while I walked around looking for certain items I wanted to buy at the various antique stores.
Around 2 p.m., when the smells of the French Quarter restaurants were really whetting my appetite, I went back to collect him and drag him off to lunch. That's when I encountered old drunk white lady, sitting next to my husband and complaining about how "nigger kids" had stolen her purse and shoes.
The balloon man, who was the object of my husband's drawing, was busy making balloon animals for some kids, who just happened to be black, and old drunk white lady started to make comments about how much she hated "niggers". Balloon man told her to shut up, but she belligerently stood her ground in racist comments.
Unfortunately, I had had enough and the black family standing, waiting for the balloons was very uncomfortable, but too polite to say anything. So of course, I had to say something. I simply told her that she had said enough, and that she needed to stop immediately. When she continued, I again told her to stop, in a much louder voice, and asked her to take her hateful venom somewhere else because it wasn't welcome there. Balloon man then flagged down an officer on a segue, and had him talk to the woman, who promptly left the area.
It was very unpleasant. Obviously, old drunk white woman was also old drunk white mentally ill woman, and I try to abstain from conflicts with the mentally compromised. You can never win because they're stuck in their emotionally charged loop of craziness and you just get taken for a ride that goes around and around. But I'll never forget the blatant show of racist crap and the fact that I jumped into the fray, much to my husband's discomfort. At any rate, it was an ugly little episode and I am a little sorry I got into it with this woman - maybe had I given her some money or a pair of shoes, she would have been better off, but I kind of doubt it. In this day and age to see that display of ugliness shocked and saddened me.