The world is full of bullies.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti
One warm, bright day a happy boy set up a lemonade stand so passersby could place a nickel on the small table and sip a cool drink freshly squeezed from lemons.
He was enjoying the smiles of people drinking lemonade when a gang of bullies came walking up:
“Lemonade, huh?” asked the first. “Why are you marginalizing apple juice?”
“What?” asked the bewildered boy. “I just want to give people a cool drink. What has mar-….mar-….picking on apples got to do with it?” Although he could not grasp academic jargon, he knew hostility when he heard it.
“You’re male,” said the second bully, “you don’t believe in working with females?”
“I asked a girl to help me, but she didn’t feel like it.”
“There must have been something in your manner to discourage her. Maybe you didn’t want to pay her?”
“Of course I did.”
“As much as you?”
“She could have all of it. I just want to give people lemonade.”
“Quit silencing me! Can’t you see I’m coming to voice?”
The boy said nothing. Bystanders finished their lemonade and moved off to be out of earshot.
The third bully: “Do you realize that poor people are living in this country who can’t afford a nickel for lemonade? Can’t even afford to buy a lemon? What kind of message of privilege are you sending them?”
The fourth: “Your stand is named ‘Eric’s Lemonade.’ Eric was the name of a white conqueror who did horrible things to people in Greenland.”
“It’s my first name.”
The fifth bully: “Did you bother asking anyone whether they are obese, hyperglycemic, or diabetic? You’re giving them a lot of sugar here. You could be sued for that. Don’t you care about anyone’s health?”
“I didn’t think of that.”
“Colonizers never do.”
The sixth: “….or about having a round stand instead of a Roman Empire square one. Eurocentric gridding of territory always means gridding over hearts and minds.”
The boy said nothing for a while, then got up, packed up, and left.
Their task accomplished, the bullies moved off in search of other targets. For them, of course, it wasn’t about emancipation anymore, really, or about difference, empowerment, coming to voice, or even confronting bias. It certainly wasn’t about fairness or reconciliation.
No: it was about revenge. They would silence and divide now, they would stand in judgment now, and they preferred their lemons sour. Everyone else’s, too.
It was hot in town that summer. People wondered where the nice boy with the lemonade stand had gone, but he was afraid to return. He never did, and so nobody got anything cool to drink there anymore. The bullies with sour faces saw to that.
© 2010 Craig Chalquist.