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A Mother’s Point of View

SibelatTheZ May 02
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By Sibel Galindez
Community Liaison at Zeiders American Dream Theater

Go Back from where you came!  We don’t want you here!  Go back!


Go back!

I froze. My legs went weak.

Go back!

Who is that guy talking to?

Them? That woman and the two girls?

What did I just witness?

Where am I?

And with that, I saw him get into his pick-up truck.  A big man—black hair, white t-shirt, yelling– angry — ugly.  Angry. And I witnessed it—GO BACK!

I still feel like I want to throw up when I think about that day in October 2016.

We moved to Virginia Beach August of 2014.  We’re a Navy family so moving is part of our life.  I live by my two year rule, and no matter how neighborly and kind everyone is upon our moving in, it still takes two years to feel like this is my home, my neighborhood, my park, my movie theater, my Target, my favorite spot at the beach, my parking spot at mall, my pizza place, my bagel shop, my library….my supermarket.

So by October 2016, the Kroger on the corner was my neighborhood supermarket.  I bought our bread and eggs there, our Corn Flakes and our pop tarts.  I knew many of the checkers by face now if not by name.  I was greeted and helped as if I had lived there all my life.

I wake up that Sunday morning to find we did not have any milk for breakfast.  How often has that happened to you—right?  Realizing, Sunday morning.  Ready to have your coffee.  Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at home with your family and you have no milk.  Right? Who’s gonna go get the milk?  Who’s gonna volunteer to get in the car and go get the milk?  I will. It’s a nice enough day—not too cold, not too hot- actually a beautiful fall day in Virginia Beach.  So I put on the semblance of allowable clothing for a Sunday morning quick zip to the supermarket to get milk for coffee and cereal for a Sunday morning breakfast.

And then it happens… I’m getting out of my car to go inside when I hear him—GO BACK!
I know enough not to think for one minute that I am going to confront him for the vitriol he is spewing.   I just watch as he berates the woman and the two girls.
I freeze really.  They are seemingly unfazed and hurry into the supermarket to get their groceries, not to escape him.

I think I even sit back in my car for a moment, close & lock my door, as I watch him get in his and drive away.   Did that man just yell at that woman because she was wearing a hijab?  because she’s Muslim?  Did I just witness HATE SPEECH in my neighborhood supermarket parking lot?

What do I now?  Do I call the police? photograph his license plate? Do I get out of here because I am so creeped out and throw up?  Do I get out of my car and yell from the top of my lungs—I JUST WITNESSED HATE SPEECH?  What do I do?

Oh right – I need to get the milk for our Sunday morning coffee.

I get myself out of the car and walk into the supermarket.  I see the three of them.  It is clear to me now that the woman is a mother and those are her two daughters.  They are shopping.  Picking their fruit.  Going about their Sunday.  She is a mother gathering her groceries for her family.  Just like every other mother, like the mothers without whom civilizations could never thrive–providing that backbone of sustenance, that core of motherly care that sometimes gets lost in the course of our recounting history.  A mother without whom the colonies 400 years ago might never have grown to become these United State of America, not a Susan B. Anthony or an Eleanor Roosevelt  —– but more akin to the nameless mothers who traversed the Atlantic not knowing if they would survive the journey, or child birth for that matter,  to procreate and literally populate the land…She is a mother… just like me.

And because I can see she is just like me.  I wanted to say something.
I want to say something to them, but I don’t know what…. I want her to know that I saw what that man did and I am disgusted and so, so sorry.  There is so much talk these days in October of 2016—so so much talk of “us” and “them” and labels and blame and ugly extreme nationalistic scapegoating. There I said it.  In public.  I named it.

I watch them as they shop and I feel I must say something…

I approach cautiously almost bowing my head so as not to appear aggressive in any way.  We’re by the bakery area now, just rounding the corner away from the produce.  It’s taken me that long to figure out what to say.

Excuse me, I saw what that man did in the parking lot and I just want to say – we don’t all feel that way at all.  I am so, so sorry. 

She looks up from her shopping and says—with an open face, neither smiling nor scowling:  We are American.

I am speechless.  Now I feel like an idiot.  I didn’t even see her as American.

This happens

Really?  My face says it not my mouth

Of course.  I’m so sorry.  I only meant I don’t agree with that man and what he did was not right and I am so so sorry. 

She shrugs and says – This is not anything out of the ordinary.  We deal with this all the time.  We just go about our day. 

Well, you are very brave and you have two beautiful daughters. I’m sorry that you ever have to deal with that kind of behavior. It’s not right.  Thank you for allowing me to talk to you. Have a good day.

She nods.

I am the emotional one.  She just takes in all in stride–a mother caring for her children while grocery shopping.

As a mother of a Navy family I care for my children by teaching them how to survive the moves.  As a mother of a Muslim family in October 2016 she cares for her children by teaching them how to survive hate.

She is a mother and I am a mother and WE just witnessed HATE SPEECH at OUR neighborhood supermarket.

What are we mothers gonna do about that?

Experience Moth Radio style stories, spoken word and timeless tales to celebrate the diversity that defines the American spirit from 1619 – 2019.

Friday, May 03, 2019 at 7:30pm

Studio Theater

Co-conceived by Sheila Arnold & Sibel Galindez

Editor’s note: Would you like to experience Virginia’s unique history and diverse culture? Mark your calendar for the Customs, Cultures & Cuisines Festival.


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  1. AE Curator May 7, 2019

    Thank you for sharing your story! While it’s unfortunate the victim in your story has become accustomed to harassment, we hope your sharing of this experience inspires others to see the beauty in diversity.


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