WashPo profiled a scared white person, and I am just so grateful that I am able to better understand what it is like to be white and afraid of everything. They tracked a young couple, Heaven and Venson, who work at the Bell & Evans chicken plant in Fredericksburg, PA.

She knew she was about to go at least eight hours without speaking English, or probably anything at all, in a plant where nearly all of the workers were Latino and spoke Spanish, and she was one of the few who wasn’t and didn’t.

If only there was something that could be done about this….

[Heaven and Venson] held the embrace, swaying slightly, their world outside the plant’s walls — white, rural, conservative — feeling distant in this world within, where they were the outsiders, the ones who couldn’t communicate, the minority.

Wow. This is pretty fucking dramatic for a description of going into your job of quality checking chicken, holy shit.

 the story of the coming decades will be, to some degree, the story of how white people adapt to a changing country.

Just kill me now. Or, at least, cancel all my newspaper subscriptions. I feel like I have already been reading this story for decades.

But some of the everyday experiences that have long challenged millions of black, Latino and immigrant Americans — the struggle to understand and be understood, feeling unseen, fear of rapid judgments — were beginning to challenge them, too.

Oh, are you sad that people who have been oppressed by folks who look like you might judge you when they meet you? Good think you’re such well adjusted members of society that you immediately prove them wrong!!! This is article is definitely going to help. Thank God this isn’t the El Washingtono Posto Loco — your coworkers will never know what little shits you are, because they can’t read it!

They empathize more deeply with other whites — a sense of group identity ignited — because “they feel like ‘We’re part of a threatened group, and we need to band together.”

And this is the crux of my problem with white women who can’t get what’s going on. Women are second to men. We all have our stories about harassment, or being interrupted, or passed over on jobs, or not being given credit for an idea, or being told to smile, etc. Why can’t some people take that feeling of being lesser than, and view these issues through that lens? Bam, instant empathy!

And they feel as Heaven did now, clocking in, then following the others out onto the production floor: Either she’d find a way to fit in, or she’d find a way to get out.

Spoiler alert: she does not do fuck all to try to fit in.

She felt more alone than she’d ever thought possible. Alone when a worker slipped in front of her, and she wanted to ask if he was okay, but didn’t know how.

She really couldn’t figure out a single way to communicate “are you okay?” Uuuuh. No thumbs up? No running over with a look of concern? No extended hand? No USING THE WORD “OKAY”?????? Yup. She sounds like she was soooo concerned. This is all soooo out of her own control.

 Alone when she once went to the break room, saw the tables filled with people speaking Spanish, and swore that she’d never be back.

Ugh I bet they were speaking Spanish just to spite Heaven.

Months before, Salvador had marshaled all of her English to ask Heaven her name, and for a moment Heaven had felt less isolated, as though maybe that could be the beginning of a friendship, but that had been the extent of the conversation, and now neither said anything as Salvador collected the chicken breasts and left.

I mean, did you just stand there looking afraid when she talked to you, Heaven? But it doesn’t even matter, because I don’t speak Spanish and yet I know name is “nombre” and I am pretty sure that if you wanted to talk to someone anyway, those words are similar enough you could fucking figure it out.

 Two years of her life — gone, spent in near silence. She knew it was her fault, too. She could have tried harder, learned a few Spanish words, overcome her shyness. But instead, all she’d ever wanted was another job, where friends would come easier and where she wouldn’t feel so outnumbered, because, as she had again tried to explain earlier that day to her father, Dave Engle, “It sucks when you can’t talk to no one.”

Oh, Heaven. I am white and blonde so you’d probably think I’m a safe space for friendship, but I really don’t ever want to talk to you. I would prefer the version of you that can’t talk to no one. I will speak gibberish if I run into you, in the hopes of scaring you off. Or maybe I’ll use what I remember from Arabic. That’s probably scarier.

Downtown amounted to a library, a bar named the Fredericksburg Eagle Hotel, banners emblazoned with the bald eagle, signs that said, among other things, “NOTICE: This place is politically incorrect,” and houses flying the Confederate flag.


Heaven looked out the window. This was her town. Her people. Was it so wrong to want to be among them? Was it so wrong to want to work with them? Was it so wrong to refuse to learn a new language?

Yes, yes, and yes.

She had taken some Spanish in high school, but had dropped it, not because she had any animosity toward the language or the people who spoke it, but because that just wasn’t her — that was other parts of Lebanon County, not Fredericksburg.

This is the worst kind of person.

 Heaven watched Salvador coming, annoyed. Why couldn’t she learn English? Why was it up to Heaven to change? Salvador was the newcomer, not her.

I bet you Salvador speaks perfect English, but you’re such a cunt she pretends to not to so she doesn’t have to talk to the racist shithead.

Heaven shook her head. What was this job doing to her? She’d never thought of herself as prejudiced — and still didn’t


Or when people said “gringa” and she experienced a flash of paranoia that they were talking about her.

Well, gringa, stop being such a chucha and maybe this won’t be a problem anymore???

Or when supervisors separated Spanish speakers from English speakers for training videos, sometimes leaving Heaven in a room alone,

I have never watched a worthwhile training video, so this sounds like the dream. Where is the problem?

As the meeting went on — presenters at first switching between Spanish and English, but increasingly talking only in Spanish — she became more and more irritated. When one worker joked that his Timberland boots were probably slip-resistant, and everyone laughed, she didn’t understand what was happening. Later, when another employee called the boots pictured in the handout ugly, and people chuckled again, she crossed her arms. One of the presenters tried to keep up, translating all that he could, looking at Heaven when he did, but it was no use. He missed some things, or got the words wrong.

In all seriousness, I cannot imagine being mad about this. I cannot imagine being this angry of a person. First, I have real problems. Second, get a sense of humor. Learn some words. There are so many ways to handle this that would make it easier to get along with people, and she is doing exactly 0 of them. Plus, Spanish and English are too similar for me to believe she can’t understand a single spoken or printed word. I get that she has little intellectual curiosity, but this is absurd.

“They don’t give a rat’s ass about people with white skin,” [Venson] said.

Do you mean your coworkers? Because probably they don’t give a rat’s ass about horrible assholes like yourselves.

“Half of them know English and they just don’t show it,” Venson continued, pulling on a cigarette.


But anyone crossing the border seeking jobs, even government assistance — that didn’t seem fair. What about the people already here? What about the homeless? What about [Venson]?

Venson really seems like the kind of dude who cares a lot about the wellbeing of homeless people.

He was the one, after all, whose career had been shaped by Washington policymakers, who he believed didn’t know what it was like to be an outsider in your own community.

Yeah, I bet Obama never felt like that.

[Venson] became so frustrated when workers in that department didn’t ask him for assistance. They wanted help only from Juan Leon, the shift’s lone Latino mechanic, a Puerto Rican transplant whom Venson genuinely liked and appreciated, but who didn’t know those machines. Venson did. So why didn’t they ask him for help? Why did they want solely another Latino? How did it get to be this way?


“That’s why we have Juan. ‘Juan, what the f— is he saying to me? Because I don’t f—ing know,’ ” Zombro said, laughing and backslapping Leon, who last year had requested a transfer to a shift with more Latino mechanics, in part to get away from this type of talk. He silently listened to the conversation, expressionless, until a call came over the radio.

Hey, I’m guessing Good Human Leon probably feels hella out of place around you dickheads. Be more like Leon, Venison.

Honestly, this was even worse than the Trump Rust Belt voters piece. Imagine having all the time in the world to hate people because they speak a different language. Get a hobby.

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  1. like Sara...but with a d

    I’m sorry, but she has worked in that plant for two years and hasn’t learned “what is your name” in Spanish yet? She is dumb as shit. I worked in a Chinese restaurant for two years, and I can say about 10 different things in Mandarin. Plus, I could easily communicate with the cooks that only spoke 10 phrases of English. You just have to try a little bit, oh and not be a dick.


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