Commencement for the graduate schools and the Adult Degree Completion program at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, USA, drew a very large crowd. I believe the estimates ran around 6,000 people, near capacity for the venue. There were a lot of students graduating and a lot of people that loved them in the crowd.
Because I have Hunter, my service dog, with me, I am usually considered disabled. So after the ushers spoke together for a minute or two, it was decided that the three of us, my spouse and the teenager whose mother was graduating and me, should sit in the area for disabled people.
As the arena was filling with parents, spouses, siblings and other friends, the noise level increased — of course. I have a decibel meter on my phone. The noise wavered between the level of an impact hammer and a bulldozer. This, plus the size of the crowd, sent me over the top of my anxiety tolerance. Before long I sensed myself hovering and watching from a space outside myself.
Not long into this dissociative state I kind of became aware of a disturbance behind me. A white woman wanted to get through the disabled area to the other side of the designated space. The area was cordoned off and an usher who happened to be black (Somalian, if I placed the accent correctly, and most certainly a volunteer, as are all the ushers at such events) told her she had to go around the disabled area to get to the other side. This entailed probably no more than 10 additional steps.
She made a fuss about it. Those with me said other people were taking the additional steps. She said she did not care to go around in very colorful language. She whipped the cord over her head and started through the disabled area. The usher came through the cordon and grabbed at her. She turned on him and said, “Don’t YOU touch me” and, after a scuffle, she proceeded to the other side of the area, stepped under the cord and continued on her way.
It seemed very clear to my partner that she engaged in this behavior because she was white and believed she had the right to go through our area. It so angered the two with me that they actually decided to scan the crowd for her so they could go give her a lecture about “race relations.” By that time, the woman had melted into the crowd and could not be found. Would she have been so belligerent had the usher been a white female?
My companions thought this was a racial event. My spouse and I are white. The student with us is Asian, born in China. Both of them were of one mind about this altercation. On the other hand, what about me? I learned of the details from them later. I was only barely aware because I was somewhere else in my dissociative state. What a mess, eh?