My AA sons bigoted bus driver. Feedback.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by MidwestMom, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm on disability because I have so many petty cognitive problems that I can hardly find jobs I can do, but right now I'm working as a part-time aide on the same bus that my son rides. I don't go with him on his route because there are no wheelchair kids, but it's the same bus driver. The mommy in me and desperate worker who needs my job are in conflict. I need some thoughts.

    The bus driver who I'll call G. isn't the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. She knows my kids are asian and black and that my daughter is biracial. When I first started working with her she babbled about how she was asked if she was ok with black people because there were black kids on her route, and how she said that, of course, she was ok with black people. I thought it was weird of her to say it to ME, but I let it go. Later on she told me that her daughter is a bigot and hates anyone who isn't white. Now her daughter is a major difficult child adult who has already lost custody of her child that she had with an abusive but WHITE boyfriend who beats her. I passed on that one too because I need the job and, while C. isn't my boss, she could probably get me fired by saying I wasn't catching on. The Big Guys know that I have a disability and have trouble remembering visual stuff and hooking up wheelchairs is hard for me. Fast forward to today. On the way home, out of the blue, C. told me that she doesn't believe in "mixing the races." That did it. I told her my daughter is biracial and she stammered and said something like she really couldn't tell because "you know, some of them are light" and she seemed flustered. I told her that her comment offended me, and asked her why she'd say something like that to the mother of children of color? She said that I had to get used to hearing all kinds of viewpoints and that this was hers. Then she tried to sugarcoat it by saying that kids have enough problems without adding being mixed to the mix. I've heard this argument before, and maybe she meant it, but I couldn't help taking offense. Her tone to me screamed of bigotry and, although I can't control what she feels, I DONT want her to voice her views to ME and my husband is furious that she drives our son to school and back. C. told me that once my son was talking about being adopted. She then told me that she told HIM how he's LUCKY we adopted him and that it didn't matter that we're white and he's black (my son hadn't brought up race).
    Obviously, this lady is ignorant. She's had more problems than I can write here, and her own kids are all messes. My problem is, I don't really want to work with her anymore. I want to tell her boss what happened so that she can transfer me to another route as soon as one opens up. On the other hand, with my disability, I'm not exactly a great worker and I'm afraid that if I stir the pot I'll get fired. I'd like to hang on until after Christmas.
    Any feedback, suggestions, wisdom? Right now I'm fuming. What kind of person talks that way to the mother of children who aren't white? Do I tell her never to address race to my son again? I think I'm going to at least do that. WWYD?
  2. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I'm thinking if you tell your boss, the biggest concern would be over possible racial discrimination charges and not you. IOW, I would think (and certainly hope) that your boss would be more outraged and in fear of someone - a parent, student, etc - bringing charges of racial discrimination against them because of this bus driver. In the workplace, the kinds of things this woman is saying to you could be considered harassment. If she's made comments to your son, then she's made comments to other students as well.

    I'd let your boss know. I know you feel desperate about needing a job, but do you really want to work for someone that would condone this kind of behavior? I'd be surprised - floored - if you were made out to be the target here.

    I'm always so surprised by the amount of ignorance that still exists in our world. I guess I'm just naive.
  3. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    I'm no lawyer, but that sounds like an almost textbook case of a "hostile work environment". I think that under the law if you apply for a transfer to another route on account of C's behavior, and are then fired or disciplined, you'd have a good case for "retaliation", which is illegal.
  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I think I would tell her not to address race with any of your children. It's not appropriate for a school bus driver to be talking about such things with her charges, and given what you know of her views, she may say something hurtful.

    I agree with others that you are in a position to request a transfer to a different route because of your discomfort with this woman's views. What about your children, though. Are they in a position to switch buses too, or is this the only one available to take your kids to and from school.

    Sigh...there are always a few of them still out there. It's sad when we have to encounter them in person.

    All the best,
  5. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Dear MidwestMom:

    There are ways to discuss this with your boss that can make you a hero.

    Go to him and ask if you can speak with him in confidence. Be calm, cool and collected. Start the conversation with your concern that the company is in danger and you felt that you wouldn't be a loyal employee if you didn't report it to him. Tell him what you told us without being passionate. Then you can (again, calmly) let him know how you felt and that if she had been overheard by anyone else, she could be leaving the company open to a "lawsuit and gosh knows what else!".

    Honestly, I hate a bigot. I love that the kids in difficult child 1 & 2's classes describe each other as "white J" or "D with the brown face". When I was at parent teachers meetings at difficult child 2's school, a woman yelled down the hall laughing - "You must be White J's mom! I'm so glad to meet you!" I don't think I've ever laughed so hard at one of those meetings in my life. She told me she was going nuts because her son kept telling her stuff from school and describing the kids by their clothes (you know mom, the kid in the yellow shirt - well, that kid was wearing a blue shirt the next day and he was getting frustrated that she didn't know who he was talking about!). I LOVE the innocence. It's the only way that our kids won't be total tools like the bus driver.

    Whatever you decide, I'm behind you! :smile:

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi. Thanks for the feedback. I was so Who says those things to the mother of a multi-racial family???? Anyways, I could never be a hero here. I've worked there all of four weeks and can barely do my job. So the hero angle wouldn't work, it's out. The bus driver does the difficult handicapped route that many drivers don't know how to do. It requires knowing how to get the physically disabled kids strapped in (this is what I'm supposed to be She also is a workaholic, which I'm sure they like. I have thought, however, that the job isn't worth the aggrevation. I do get Disability for my tons of Learning Disability (LD)'s and mood disorder. So I can't make THAT much money or i"ll lose it, and I DONT make that much money. It is highly irritating to me to be around a bigot. I'm going to see if I get any more feedback, then decide what to do. The bus company is the fourth largest employer in Wisconsin and has to follow EEOC laws. However, what she said doesn't rise to the level of "harassment." And I doubt if she'll ever say it again because I didn't react well to it. I did keep my held, but told her I was very offended. As for my job, well, I can try to hang onto it by asking for a different route, if they have one. I'm really good with kids. A four year old route would be better for me than a wheelchair route because I simply can't figure out how to put things together, even if I do it over and over again--it's like knitting, it makes no sense to me. Wheelchairs will never be second nature to me. The four year olds just go into seatbelts. The thing is, I don't know if there is an open route. So much to think about...
  7. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat


    I am so sorry; I know that had to cut deep. What an insensitive clod.

    It amazes me that in 2007 people still think like that. But, the fact of the matter is, they still do. And, they still believe that their way is correct. They see nothing wrong with her point of view.

    I would bet that she saw nothing wrong with saying that to you. She probably figured, well, YOU are not ethnic, it shouldn't really bother you. Her comment to your son about him being lucky that you adopted him...she probably thinks that you are a do-gooder that felt an obligation or something. Like it was a huge favor. Bigot's minds don't work quite right. Your reaction probably threw her for a loop.

    Some people are so obtuse.
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    told me that she doesn't believe in "mixing the races." That did it. I told her my daughter is biracial and she stammered and said something like she really couldn't tell because "you know, some of them are light" and she seemed flustered. I told her that her comment offended me, and asked her why she'd say something like that to the mother of children of color? She said that I had to get used to hearing all kinds of viewpoints and that this was hers. Then she tried to sugarcoat it by saying that kids have enough problems without adding being mixed to the mix.

    AAAAaaargh! I could feel my blood pressure rise just reading your note!!!!

    And if these kids have enough problems, then slamming them verbally is going to help?

    You are incorrect. She is not ignorant. Ignorance means you don't know. But she DOES know and she continues the onslaught.

    Why are you worried about keeping your job? SHE should be worried about keeping HER job!!!!

  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    So, does she feel comfortable having people talk to her about dumb white trash? Because that's my viewpoint.

    Tell your boss that you would like to look at changing routes. When your boss asks why, tell him what she said and that it made you uncomfortable. <u>Period.</u> He'll figure out why this is a problem without any direction from you, and you will come across as reasonable and tolerant. I would <u>not</u> mention a lawsuit in any way shape or form, as that could sound like a veiled threat, and you don't want to go there. Under the circumstances your job is yours as long as you want it.

    Please, also make a note of everything she has said, what dates, etc., and also about your conversations with your boss. You may need it to protect yourself. If they fire you (and they won't) you have immediate grounds for unemployment, and imminent grounds for a very winnable lawsuit. And your boss will know that if he isn't an idiot, too.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think I'll tell my boss what she said and I think my boss will just about pass out. This is a big company that prides itself of EOE. This lady transports many non-white kids. If she told my son how "it doesn't matter that your mother is white and you're black" when he didn't even say a word about it, I wonder what she says to the other non-white kids when I'm not there. The sick thing is, her own white kids are doing horribly. All three are losers and huge difficult children--one of her kids has already lost custody of her child, and refuses to act reasonable to CPS so it's doubtful she'll get him back anytime soon (which is probably lucky for the child.) I am always amazed at people like her. It's hard for me to remember that some people have that sort of crazy mindset.
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    So far, as I understand it, your bosses know you have these cognitive disabilities. They chose to hire you anyway. Pretty much anything from then on means youare mostly untouchable.

    Add to that blatant racial remarks, some to your CHILD. Oh, this is SO racial harrassment. And you cannot be fired because racial harrassment toward you (and it WAS!).

    At this point you are 10 ft tall and bulletproof. To stay this way, keep notes, day, date, time of day, what was said, etc...

    At this point they may pay you a settlement to prevent your talking to the media if they ask you to go. AND, if for some reason they fire you, well, GO TO THE MEDIA!!! With all your documents.

    NO child should have to hear this. So many children have enough problems with-o an adult being racist.

    by the way, you are not the first adult she has said this to. Your child is not the 1st child she has said this to. And the company and SD that contracts with them should be scared. This lady is a walking lawsuit in ugly clothes!
  12. brandyf

    brandyf New Member

    i cant believe this. nuts...they wont fire you for recieving "blatant racial remarks, some to your CHILD" and if they just became 20 foot tall and bullet proof. since your not making much money....well, i see a lawsuit "big money" coming your way. tell your boss, then call the higher up's... these are handicapped children??? working for the school district??? oh man..
  13. AllStressedOut

    AllStressedOut New Member

    I agree that this screams lawsuit. But I also understand that you don't want that fight. You need the job and the money for Christmas and I don't blame you not wanting to raise a big stink.

    I would just ask your boss for a new route, when he asks why, tell him what she said to you and your son. Let him know it made you uncomfortable and you want a new route. I can not imagine him denying you this when that is all you're asking for. You aren't being difficult, you just don't think you and her are compatible for this close working relationship. Very cut and dry.

    I'm sorry you had to listen to this woman and I'm even more sorry your son was exposed to it. She is a dispicable excuse for a human being and a total waste of skin.

  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks. I'm going to talk to my boss tomorrow. I hope there IS another route. There may not be any more openings. I'm really disgusted with this lady.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    BBK said it for me.

    But a few more things I want to add.

    This is a two-fold problem. First, your work environment, and second, your kids' environment. These two are unrelated and both a major concern.

    Your work environment - this is your choice, as to where you want to work, but you shouldn't have to put up with this. HOWEVER - I suspect she was talking with a lot of bravado and very little commonsense. You have let her know you don't like it, she is probably already waiting for the other shoe to fall. If her own kids are such a mess then my vote really IS for the bravado being her way to bluster through life.

    Bus drivers often chatter to the people around them. It relieves the monotony. And I don't know what it is, but our local bus driver is also racist. And sexist. And has a son who is openly gay, at least around my kids. And he is so proud of his son who is doing so well in the acting world...

    But I digress slightly. What I mean to say is, a lot of this sort of chatter is pure bravado, she will probably shut up now, at least around you.
    You keep repeating, "How could she say that to me, the mother of a bi-racial child?" but as BBK put it, she probably thinks you are a do-gooder saint who already knows how wonderful and magnanimous she is for adopting such a problem and at last giving the kid a real home.

    And now for your son. And the other kids (all races and mixes). None of them should hear this rubbish. White kids hearing this could use it as an excuse to be racist themselves. And black kids are also capable of being racist - this is not the exclusive domain of the "dominant race". ALL the kids need to have a balanced environment and not be exposed to this sort of bigotry.
    And the black/bi-racial kids - this can really do a lot of harm, with so few words.

    I was watching a TV program last night, an Aussie documentary very closely following an Aussie actress around, Rhoda Roberts, whose identical twin sister was murdered about 10 years ago. The murder has never been solved. These kids were the offspring of a white mother (unusual) and an Aboriginal father. The family (they also have a brother) grew up around Lismore, close to Nimbin which is like Australia's Woodstock, only it's still a very strong hippie commune. The family were churchgoers but the kids grew up in an atmosphere of benevolent racism, always afraid of being taken from their parents on the slightest pretext (a common outcome for mixed race kids until very recently). The Roberts kids probably didn't get taken because their mother was white (my view) but Rhoda felt it was because their mother was fastidious about keeping them clean, neat, well-dressed, well-supplied with school materials, well-shod and well-fed. As Rhoda said, "Woe betide us if any of us had nits - they'd have taken us." At her school the mixed-race kids would be made to gather and line up every so often for inspections and any kid not meeting muster would disappear. She knew of cousins who were at school one day, and gone the next with nothing said apart from grieving aunties.

    And the point I really want to mention here - the things other people would say. This white mother would take her mixed kids to church and have other people come up to her and say, "You are a saint for adopting these little black kids and giving them a decent life."
    And the kids heard this. What message did it send them? They grew up well cared for, but in constant fear of losing it all. Wherever they encountered racism whether official or simply a misspoken word, it reinforced their fear. It made them feel even more inferior. The girls were told, "There's no point wasting time on educating you any further, you're only going to go shack up with some bloke and get pregnant." This made both girls determined to succeed in spite of them.
    But the fear is always there. Rhoda says, "I see an official, ANY official, and part of me inside goes cold and I want to tell them, 'Keep away from me and my family.'"
    It was the fear that stopped them from really nagging the police to investigate when Rhoda's sister Lois went missing. They wouldn't even file the missing person's report, because they said, "She's probably just gone walkabout." The family knew, from various signs, that something must have happened. She would have put the shopping away first, not left food out for passing dogs to steal.
    And when they found most of the body six months later, the autopsy showed that all the time the police had been dragging their feet over the Missing Person's Report, Lois had still been alive. She was alive for a week, being tortured. The details were not told in this documentary, apart from saying it was horrific.

    What drove this? Nobody is saying it was a racist attack, it may not have been. But the fear in the family, the "she'll be right, mate," attitude of the police, perceived by the family to be because "she's only a blackfella" does nothing to assuage the fear. Or the sense of guilt at not making more of a fuss to get the police moving.

    Rhoda Roberts is a trained actress, writer, experienced journalist and TV presenter on national television. She designed a lot of the Aboriginal segment at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. She's lived in Europe for years, travelled the world. But inside she is still a frightened little girl, a product of the racism that enveloped her as she was growing up, including the well-meaning comments of the women at church.

    MWM, you need to protect these kids. Yes, a bus driver will chatter, and chances are the employer will simply give her a rap over the knuckles and tell hr to watch her mouth because she is such a hard worker in other ways. But C will know it was you who said something, and a rap over the knuckles does not cure long-held and deeply-run beliefs like this.

    I really don't know what could be done to fix this, short of miraculously finding someone who is a hard worker and NOT racist. And how can you be sure?

    The only thing I can see, is that if you DO act, and something is done, your children will see that this is wrong and action can be taken. Words that wound do not have to be accepted or tolerated.

    So forget about your personal hurt, don't let that sway you, at least for now. Think about your reasons for wanting this dealt with and then make your decision.

  16. Stella Johnson

    Stella Johnson Active Member

    I agree with the others. I wouldn't want my child on the bus either. I think you do need to talk to your boss. I understand it is a tight situation though. Choose your words carefully.

  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Should I put all her comments in writing?
    I was told, when I called EOE in Wisconsin, that this doesn't rise to the level of racial harassment. And the man I spoke with told me he was AA. He said that "While it's obnoxious, it's not racial harassment." I'm still fuming. It's the next morning.
    Any suggestions on how to best present this?
  18. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Hope I'm not too late. It's not legally "harassment" unless and until you bring it up to your boss and they don't do something to protect you from it, or punish you for telling.

    Ask your boss to transfer to another route. When he asks why, tell him what she said.

    Write down what you and she said and when she said it for your own records. Use quotes. Make notes of your conversations with your boss and what if any the results were.
  19. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    as the mother of two multiracial children, I have a few thoughts in this matter. First, I don't think in any way this woman's comments are racial harassment. Appropriate, no - disconcerting, yes - bigoted, maybe - but I disagree with the poster who said she was not ignorant. Her remarks smack of ignorance to me. Another poster mentioned a racial discrimination suit. I don't believe her comments contitute racial discrimination either.

    I believe in order for those two statements (the harassemenet and the discrimination) there must be intent. I don't think this woman intentionally set to hurt you or your children. Is she dumb, sure - is she a racist, certinainly.

    If I were you, I think would first speak to her directly, perhaps after you finish your morning route on Monday. I would gently say "Listen C, I've been thinking about a couple things you said to me last week that have been bothering me." Proceed to tell her which statements made you uncomfortable. Let her know that in this day and age, those comments could be considered bigotry. Tell her that comments such as those could really hurt a child who has no responsibility for which race they are born into. You know she is a great bus driver and loves the kids, but you didn't want any children's feelings hurt or any children saying something to their parents that could jepardize her job. Let her know that it is challenging raising a family with multiple races and her comments hurt you too.

    You never know, she may think about it and realize she was out of line. On the other hand, she may still continue to feel the same but keep her comments to herself.

    I would document her statements and your conversation and just keep them. If, in the future, she continues to say these bigoted, stupid things, then you have the information to take to your boss. You can let him know that you tried to handle this yourself "mother to mother", "employee to employee", "woman to woman", whatever, and it didn't work and you couldn't keep silent.

    If, on the other hand, it offends your sensabilities to continue to work with this woman, you have no choice to go to your supervisor and "fess up". I wouldn't worry at all about your job security in this issue.

    Listen, I began dating my soon-to-be ex black bonehead in 1979 - boy am I aging myself! In those many, many years I have seen, heard, and experienced bigotry in action. I have quietly tried to change stereotypes about mixed relationships by the way I live my life and raise my children. I don't get up on soapboxes, nor do I really take personally someone else's ignorance. I believe this is a pure case of ignorance.

    That's just my 2 cents. The world will never be free from racists. There will always be a race, a religion, etc., that is judged from the outside rather than knowledge from the inside. A quiet conversation could go a long way, you never know.

  20. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Sharon, I was the one who said the bus driver was not ignorant. After reading your note, I can only say you are WAY more patient than I am!
    Since MWM already expressed her displeasure, I assumed the driver had caught on and wouldn't need the one-on-one talk you suggested.
    That's why I'd make a crummy politician.