Elderly Whites’ Interaction with Latinos at a Market The setting of the first observation is a Trader Joe’s grocery store—outside the store. I was observing a Latino friend working as a canvasser for a well-known non-profit that helps multicultural children. I was also observing the behavior of the customers whom she politely attempted to speak with. I was far enough away that I did not disturb her process or interact with her or customers. The store looks typically upbeat, with pleasant colors and plants outside. My friend Jane, a Latino, was the canvasser; the customers were asked, in a sense, to ‘play the role’ of donors—and about 52 out of 60 of these refused to communicate or stop to talk or listen, even briefly. The elderly...The end:
.....some price. These were people who, I observed, left in newer cars and did not look impoverished. Still, the majority of elderly whites—in contrast to younger whites--did not act friendly or smile as if they trusted the Latinos or wanted to interact with them. In contrast, the elderly whites spoke pleasantly and for a few minutes with the one white male store clerk; over half did this. This experiment may not have “proved” any prejudice on the part of elderly whites in general, but it shook me up. I had never personally seen any evidence that elderly whites were so hardened against supporting multiculturals or engaging in conversation with Latinos. I did observe a tendency towards mistrust and inflexibility on the part of the elderly whites.