My first experience with bigotry was with a newly hired second manager at McDonalds who decided to kill two birds with one stone. We'd recently hired a young black teenager who was beautiful, had a sunny smile, tons of "Ten" braids in the way I thought of them due to the popularity of the movie by that name, and a readiness to work. The new manager didn't like that I didn't wait to ask his opinion but acted like the floor manager that I was hired to be.
Our first tussle came when I put several people on lunch breaks because the restaurant was empty and they hadn't received them yet. They wouldn't likely get one later on due to the heavy business we always had Friday nights with local football games. He ordered me not to give any orders, to only do what he asked. Then he went out to the lobby and drank coffee with a buddy. None of the prep work got done. None of the employees got breaks. No one got assigned to duties. It all waited on him to act. He drank coffee instead. Eventually, the lobby was so packed with people, the garbage cans overflowing with garbage, and we were short handed the two coffee drinkers that I eventually took a walk and asked him if he intended to help because the way things were going we wouldn't likely get out of there until really late. Second manager came to the rescue, throwing buns around and ordering people here and there and we finally all went home at four a.m. when his lack of managerial skills and preplanning led to our late escape.
The next morning when asked about the mess, I told my colleague that I had been ordered not to tell anyone what to do and didn't get out of there until four a.m. I turned to see the new manager listening in.
So on this next shift, I was ordered to do multiple jobs, cook fries, make milkshakes, clean the lobby, and back all the staff up. I quietly did so but on my pass through the lobby I heard the second manager say he was "going to get rid of me and that would teach me since I had just moved into an apartment on my own and couldn't argue."
The next shift, the second manager ordered me to tell the pretty black girl to change her hair do because it didn't look good. So I did, telling her "the second manager told me to tell you" and writing the same words on her application. I then suggested she tell her parents and to get a lawyer.
So I do know that people can be mean, can bully people, can get "even" with people, can hurt, attack, abuse and do other illegal things that all revolve around hate. I am not naïve.
But I do like the word bigotry much better than racism. For one reason, bigotry puts the blame for the hate where it sits, namely in the person doing the bullying, having the mean attitudes, and doing the nasty things against people that earn them the title.
With racism, the guilty edict goes against an entire set of people, placing the activity society wide and making everyone aware that we are human in the worst ways. Even if we are the nicest, most charitable, friendly, kindly acting people in the world, we are still guilty.
I don't believe anyone is guilty until proven so. It's the way in the United States that many of us have been brought up to believe. Racism convicts everyone without trial, convicts everyone to a set of beliefs based on bad science, convicts everyone of being suspicious of everyone because we are all different. With bigotry, the same is true on a small scale where a person's acts convict them of being hateful and mean. This was true of my second manager while everyone else came and went to our work place, all doing the same job while paying their bills and going to school. Except for that one person, there was little evidence of hate.
I quit working at that business the next day, when my supervisor couldn't accommodate my desire to work a shift where he wouldn't be in charge. Three days later, I had a new job and a $0.35 raise. Three months later, I was working at Boeing for $6.00+ an hour more, making more money than my supervisor or my second manager.