I've spent bits and pieces of the last five years of my life unsuccessfully searching for a car that I'd be willing to trade my 2003 Jaguar X in for. I've been driving it for 10 years and it has nearly 200,000 miles on it. I've loved every minute and every mile of it, but have to face the fact that it won't last forever. They don't even make that model anymore. Unfortunately. Because it offered a combination of styling, power, handling, and comfort at a comparatively low price that nothing else has been able to compete with in my mind. I've tried them all.
I've slowly come to the conclusion I'll have to settle for something much less desirable, since the only vehicles I've found that were comparable are closer to six figures than to the price I paid for my beloved Jag, a price I can't justify paying whether I can afford it or not (and I can't). Then this year, Cadillac came out with a little, nimble yet powerful Turbo charged sedan, the ATS. So yesterday my husband and I headed to our nearest dealership, which because of our rural residence is still a distance away, to check out this highly reviewed new offering.
Lo and behold, except for the teeny tiny trunk that will likely not hold even a single full size suitcase, I loved everything about this car. It has power that's impressive, it holds the road in tight turns as good as my Jag does, it has every comfort I'm concerned about, it even has styling I find acceptable if not as sleek and classic as my Jag. But I won't be buying it, at least not from this dealership. The reason is in the letter I'm sending to the salesperson at that dealership, which I'm revised slightly to protect identities:
Dear Mr. Doe:
You left a message on my answering machine about a great deal on the Cadillac ATS I test drove on Saturday, May 11, 2013 and I’m writing to let you know why I won’t be calling you back even though I loved the car and it’s nearly exactly what I’ve been looking for.
During that test drive, you mentioned to us that when you were buying a new home, you specified to your agent that you wanted your ad to specifically state that you wanted no Mexicans, Hmongs, or Blacks. Whether you thought every person from my remote area would find that attitude not just acceptable, but admirable, or you thought every White person would find it not just acceptable, but admirable, I’m not certain. Whichever it was, you were wrong.
At the time, I didn’t inform you that I happen to have three beautiful Black nieces who are all sweet, thoughtful, and intelligent girls. I also didn’t inform you that I have a pair of identical twin nephews who were born in Mexico and brought to this country illegally by their parents when they were two years old. I didn’t tell you they’re now U.S. citizens because one of my nieces adopted them primarily to ensure they would not be deported from the only country they’ve ever known when they turned 18. Your friends from somewhere probably have heard of them since they were track stars at somewhere High School. One of them just joined the United States Marines and the other is attending college. I also didn’t mention that my best friend, the one whom I indicated had recently purchased a Cadillac SRX is engaged to an intelligent, personable Black man. Nor did I mention that I just this past week successfully represented an educated, successful Black man in a two day custody battle against the White mother of his 6 year old son, with the judge deciding in his favor largely because of his and his wife’s work ethic and the level of their commitment to the education of their children as opposed to the White mother’s willingness to take her children out of school for extended family vacations which they can somehow afford even though neither she nor her husband have worked a single day for the last several years.
You would have rejected any one of those people based on your simplistic opinion of their race rather than on their own individual characters. Even worse, you had the audacity to assume we’d do the same. It’s bad enough to know there are people ignorant enough to be rejecting others on such a superficial basis, but to actually be foolish enough to brag about that ignorance is downright astounding.
I can pretty much guarantee that you’ve never sold a vehicle because you expressed your bigotry to a potential customer. I can assure you you’ve lost the sale of a vehicle because of it. There is now not a deal good enough that we would consider ever purchasing a car through you. In fact, I doubt we will consider purchasing any vehicle through any famous in our area dealership as a result of our experience with you.
I doubt very much the knowledge that your bigotry has lost you a sale will make you rethink your ignorant position on people of other races, but I hope it might make you think twice before voicing your ignorance and that you might refrain from assuming others share that ignorance simply because of what they look like or where they come from. Perhaps you won’t lose either yourself or your employer future sales.