Storytime, Krakow Koffeehouse & Cafe, Portland, Oregon, January 30, 2009, Part IV

The next morning, January 31, 2009, I received this email from Mark Kirkmeier, owner, Krakow Koffee:

RE: I am sorry about the event today

Mark

Sent By: “Mark Kirchmeier” 
On:  Jan 01/31/09 12:15 AM

Dear Sharon,

I had a good conversation with an Overlook parent named Claire Michaels, who came inside Krakow when you were talking with Ben (the tall barista with glasses).   Claire said that she picked up on some tension you were feeling with Ben, but she thought the situation was manageable, and then after the unfortunate phone dropping incident

happened, Ben’s girlfriend (with the nose ring) completely lost it, and starting shouting the “get out of her remarks.”

I am asking the girl friend to write a letter of apology to you.  If she doesn’t do so, she will banned from the store.  I have given Ben a reprimand.

Again, as I mentioned on the phone to you, I am dazed and mind boggled, that a staff person, and an girl friend with evidentally some behavior issues, and who had no business being party to this discussion, could screw up something as benign as a children’s story telling.

One tremendous grace note today, was Sunshine’s graciousness in staying, and giving some of the kids what they had come for, a story telling experience.

You didn’t have do that, Sunshine, and I greatly appreciate you’re doing so.

Sincerely

Mark

Find a white person to contradict, over-sensitive, angry, black person’s (in my case, uppity negress’) story…

It would have been better had Mark continued on in his daze and not “said” another word. However, he felt justified in denying my veracity and taking the word of someone who was not -party to the whole incident over mine. What was it his tall, bespectacled, white, male, employee, Ben had said? Oh, that’s right. “You see we all know more what you say than “you people.” The truth, as they say, will out. I did not feign a response.

And that staff person is still gainfully employed. Hmm! Let’s weigh things up a little. Racism vs. thirteen years coffee pouring experience, what am I thinking? No comparison!

Mark, obviously no longer dazed and mind boggled, and buoyed by the privilege of his the dominant “his-story” writing culture, continued his march toward domination.

On February, 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm, I received the following email:

written apology forthcoming

Sent By: “Mark Kirchmeier”
On:  Feb 02/03/09 7:30 PM

Sharon,

I have a signed written apology from barista Ben Reed on his behalf and his lady friend, who so spectactularly lost control last Friday.

If you have a fax, I could fax it to you, or mail it to you.

Sincerely,

Mark

That same said multi-pierced, angry, white, female, girlfriend, of the tall, bespectacled, white, male, employee, whom Mark had banned from his shop? Oh, that’s right, silly me, I had forgotten I’m black, I obviously misheard.

Baited, here is my response.

Mark,

Do not under any circumstances forward me any correspondence from your racist employee, nor his girlfriend. You cannot truly believe that anything you force them to write, coupled with your absolutely insulting email of yesterday, and your telephone call and comments on Friday, during which you shamelessly attempted to explain away your employee’s racist assault, by virtue of social skills that were, as you put it, “rough around the edges,” thereby negating my (and my children’s) experiences, our pain, our truth. But isn’t that the way those types transgressions are always handled?

I am including the text of your email for you to take a long look at. Try reading it out loud, preferably in front of a mirror, looking yourself in the eyes:

From: Mark Kirchmeier

To:

Subject: RE: I am sorry about the event today

Date: January 31, 2009 12:15:47 AM PST

Dear Sharon,

I had a good conversation with an Overlook parent named Claire Michaels, who came inside Krakow when you were talking with Ben (the tall barista with glasses).   Claire said that she picked up on some tension you were feeling with Ben, but she thought the situation was manageable, and then after the unfortunate phone dropping incident happened, Ben’s girlfriend (with the nose ring) completely lost it, and starting shouting the “get out of her remarks.”

I am asking the girl friend to write a letter of apology to you.  If she doesn’t do so, she will banned from the store.  I have given Ben a reprimand.

Again, as I mentioned on the phone to you, I am dazed and mind boggled, that a staff person, and an girl friend with evidentally some behavior issues, and who had no business being party to this discussion, could screw up something as benign as a children’s story telling.

One tremendous grace note today, was Sunshine’s graciousness in staying, and giving some of the kids what they had come for, a story telling experience.

You didn’t have do that, Sunshine, and I greatly appreciate you’re doing so.

Sincerely,

Mark

If you think that I, and my children, can be appeased by empty words penned on paper, when the Truth of the heart and soul of your employees, the patrons of your establishment, and ultimately you yourself, have already been delivered to me loud and clear, at high decibels and in silence, in words, spoken, unsaid, and insinuated, in every action and inaction, then you are even less of a human being than I, at this time, believe you to be.

It is ironic that 10 days after America celebrated (led by liberal progressive Portland, Oregon) the “historic” inauguration of President Barack Obama, in the year 2009, I entered your business, Krakow Coffee, invited by you, to conduct a children’s story time; to read my children’s picture book, Max and Me, a story of friendship highlighting our differences, yet celebrating our similarities, and I was drop-kicked, side-swiped, clear back into the 1950s and 60s – the only thing missing were the police dogs.

For your information Mark, “Max and Me is a story about friendship between two little boys of different colors. (Yes, that’s right, color, not race. There is only one race – the human race.) It is a sweet and funny story that reminds us that we are all the same at heart.”

“In this era of multiculturalism, and a seeming emphasis on our differences, we sometimes forgot that people, no matter their color, or culture, are inherently the same. “Max and Me” is a fun, uplifting story about friendship that illustrates this fact with levity and candor.”  http://www.sharonmartini.com/MaxAndMeReviews.html

It is obviously far more important for you to retain your supremely knowledgeable and experienced (13 years was it) though socially “rough around the edges,” coffee mixer and pourer, (aka barista) and provide free reign to his pierced partner, thereby, maintaining your bottom line – remaining in the black – (pun intended,) than it is for you to stand up for Truth, Love, Liberty and Humanity.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau: If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth–certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

Sincerely,

Sharon 

“Love is not possession. Love is not control. Love is everywhere, everything. Love is not something to hold.” ~ Moi! 5/08
Sharon Martini
Lady Bird Designs, LLC
Wonderfully Whimsical Works of Art by Sharon Martini
www.sharonmartini.com
sharonmartini@mac.com
503-709-7298
www.mummychatter.wordpress.com

Continued/Storytime, Krakow Koffeehouse & Cafe, Portland, Oregon, January 30, 2009, Part V

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3 Responses to “Storytime, Krakow Koffeehouse & Cafe, Portland, Oregon, January 30, 2009, Part IV”

  1. Mario Says:

    Sharon. I was at the coffee house the day of your indecent. As an outsider, not knowing any of the parties involved, I believe you tremendously overreacted. You used the racial card just because you got trapped in a situation were you knew you were wrong and the only way out was to cry racist. You may have been running late or had a bad mourning, and so you took it out on the first person you came across. You should be ashamed of your action, and the worst part, your kids with you saw it all. Kicking furniture and phones- they probably get that from you. The saddest of all is that you write children books? Please do not write me back telling me to read this in front of a mirror, looking myself in the eyes. I know who I am.
    Just my view as an observer.

    Mario

    • mummychatter Says:

      Dear Mario,

      Thank you for your comment, I appreciate any and all opportunities to dialogue about the social construct of race, and its sadly, very real, offspring, racism, with members of the human race, but specifically, members of the dominant culture.

      Of course, you would believe I tremendously overreacted, for you as you state, were there, a non-reacting, white, (or assimilated white, see http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_03_c-godeeper.htm) member of the “audience” of the “Attempting To Put Uppity Negress In Her Place Show.”

      I did not use the “racial card,” as you call it, in my report of the Krakow Koffeehouse & Café incident. What I use is “Truth,” that thing that is so often renamed the “race card,” or, as you say, “racial card” by the dominant culture, i.e. white people (or assimilated white people, let me again recommend that you read http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_03_c-godeeper.htm) when we black people dare to stand up against the inequities wrought against us, (people of color) under the terrorism of racism, discrimination, and oppression.

      Race is a social construct created for reasons of hierarchy, dominance, control and power. It was invented to create the semblance of superiority of the white “race” and the inferiority of the black, brown, red and yellow “races,” as a way to disguise the privileges bestowed upon the dominant culture.

      I have to wonder whether you sat through the complete “Attempting To Put Uppity Negress In Her Place Show,” or did you leave during the intermission? For, while my son did, indeed, kick away the telephone that had been intentionally, disdainfully, dropped, at my feet, he did not, at any time, kick furniture. Mario, I know old habits die hard, but please do try to refrain from rewriting history, or should I say, my story.

      What my sons get from me is, the knowledge of self as whole and human, and the courage to stand up for their right to be treated as such with dignity and respect.

      Yes, I do write children’s books. This is a good thing, a necessary thing. When my children were little and I became immersed in children’s literature, I found that there was a dearth of contemporary stories with brown characters and whimsical art. I write and illustrate fun whimsical books with brown characters (and pink characters) to fill a need.

      In this unjust world oppression is oftentimes wrought by acts of omission. By my writing children’s stories reminding us how we are all, no matter our color or culture, inherently the same – human (entitled to equal rights, treatment and justice,) I attempt to counter potential oppression, by touching the children who hear and read the stories, (and also, the adults who read them,) with this simple, but sadly forgotten, in this era of multiculturalism, truth.

      We know ourselves only when we have met ourselves (and dare to continue to meet ourselves,) face to face in all our naked glory, warts and all, devoid of labels and material things; when we have claimed our fears and all our biases; our wants and our needs; our assets and our deficits; our truths, and we can love ourselves wholly and openly without shame.

      The greatest gift to humanity anyone can give is to know thy self.

      Each day, I am conscious of attempting to walk solidly, on my own two feet, in my own truth.

      Again, I thank you for taking the time to write.

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