Racist stereotypes are exposed in this episode of the popular ABC newsmagazine "What Would You Do?" (video below).
A resident of Palo Alto, California, Trena is a mother of eight kids, ranging in age from 21 months to 21 years. Although her family is reported to be a model of respectability, when they go out in public, she is frequently the target of insensitive comments based on common prejudices.
“People wrongly assume she’s on welfare,” says narrator John Quinones.
They often ask insulting questions, such as, “Don’t you know about birth control?” explains Trena. She also often hears such questions as, “Are you crazy?” and, “Do you work?”
So Quinones and his crew took their show on the road to a pancake house in New York, where their candid camera proved that Trena was not exaggerating.
Employing a family of actors to represent Trena and her eight kids, and an actor to portray a prejudiced waitress, the camera captures the reactions of the other diners as the “waitress” makes a series of insensitive comments.
Before even taking their order, she informs them that the restaurant does not accept food stamps, and a customer seated at a nearby table is obviously embarrassed and offended by the statement. Then, when the waitress asks the mother how many dads there are, the offended patron gets up and confronts her, declaring his disapproval about the way she’s treating the family in question -- going as far as to say that if he were the manager, he'd have fired her, says Little Things.
The experiment is repeated with different groups of diners, and “time after time the diners defend our mother,” explains narrator Quinones.
In one scene, the waitress’s comments offend a patron’s sense of patriotism. “This is America,” he says, implying that the waitress was behaving contrary to American values.
Another customer calls the waitress an “insensitive racist” to her face. Later, when she finds out she is on the television show “What Would You Do?” she admits that she felt like “clocking” the waitress.