To the woman at the Disabled American Veterans’ Christmas party who mistook me for a waitress:

At first I thought you were “merely” racist. After all, Larry and I were the only African Americans in the room. You smiled and beckoned to me. Since I’d just finished a conversation with two of the veterans at your table, I assumed you wanted to talk about the writing group. Then you said, “Could you bring me a root beer?” I was bewildered, just said, “I don’t work here.” You looked at me as though you didn’t believe me, or that it didn’t matter.

You may or may not have figured things out by the time the senior vice commander of the DAV, who was sitting across from you, gave me a big hug and stayed to talk. I didn’t intend it, but I noticed you looked terrified when I walked back over to your table so I could talk to another veteran.

As the afternoon progressed, I realized you are not only racist, you are unpatriotic. You had the nerve to stay in your seat and pick at the frosting on your cake, loud enough for people at other tables to hear, while everyone stood and listened to the impassioned words of the Gold Star parents who lost their son in Iraq. You disrespected two people who continue to suffer in ways the rest of us cannot imagine. Your behavior was disgusting. I would have chalked up your remaining in your seat to your age, but I saw you walk across the room to get that root beer.

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