joseph doesn't match up

The United States has made great strides in matters of race and society, but some lingering problems remain. Take for instance, a father who was recently accused of kidnapping because his daughters are biracial.

Virginia dad Joseph was recently in a local Walmart with his three daughters. The trip went without a hitch – he cashed a paycheck, then buckled the three girls – a 4 year old and two 2 year old twins – into their car seats. Joseph then took a moment to make a phone call before returning home. But you know since this is Walmart in Virginia (and because you read the title), this story’s not going to end well.

He arrived home to find a Prince William County police officer there as well. Joseph and his wife Keana were told that Walmart security had called the police to make sure that Joseph’s kids…were his. The police officer had to check identification and asked the 4 year old daughter to identify her mother and father.

The police officer mentioned that the Walmart security guard saw Joseph in the parking lot with the girls and was suspicious. Later, Keana would call the Walmart and the security guard claimed it was a customer that was worried about the obvious race discrepancy going on. So obvious and so discrepant that when Keana asked why a red flag was raised over this, the security guard said that the whistle-blowing customer thought that Joseph and the daughters “didn’t fit”. When Keana asked “What do you mean by they don’t fit,” the guard reportedly said “Well, they just don’t match up.”

WHAT?!

Look: if you’re uncomfortable with white people and black people together, it’s time for you to take an online sensitivity course or something. There’s no amount of sticking your head in the sand that makes it okay to call in a possible kidnapping based solely on the fact that there’s a grown white man with non-white kids. Were the daughters screaming as Joseph was putting them in their car seats? The twin daughters are 2 years old – they do that. But it’s not mentioned in the story, and it’d still be a reach, but at least the security guard could say “look, this sounds stupid, but a customer said it looked like a grown man was struggling and forcing a kid into his car.” There’s no sentiment of that here. All I see is a “so a white guy’s walking with three kids and there’s no sign of anything afoul except that – you kn0w, they don’t match up.”

What truly doesn’t match up is that it’s 2013 and someone just accused a dad of kidnapping because his daughters’ skin color is different than his. My son’s skin color is nearly identical to mine and I’ve had shopping visits where it looks like I’m kidnapping him because he’s melted down halfway through a grocery trip and I’ve had to leave a cart of groceries in a store aisle, carry him outside as he cries and put him into our car and drive off. No one’s called the police on me because, I can imagine, everyone looks at me and thinks “thank god…that dad needs to get his screaming kid under control.” It’s terrifying to think that in this same nation, a father merely walking with his daughters can get a visit from the police if his skin color doesn’t “match” that of his daughters.

Maybe this is just one bad person “spoiling the bunch”. Maybe this story highlights one of the few narrow-minded people out there. But sadly, we’ve seen this before. Last year, a Texas grandfather was cuffed and detained while walking home with his black granddaughter. I hope it’s much longer than a year before we read another story like this, but I suspect it won’t be.

Walmart’s “looking into it.” Blah blah blah.