A few weeks ago Mississippi 3-year-old Victoria Wilcher was attacked by three pit bulls. The little girl survived the attack, but suffered several bone breaks (her upper and lower jaw, nose, cheek bones, and right eye socket). The toddler also lost her right eye in the attack. She’s undergone several surgeries and has several surgeries left before her ordeal is finished—if it will ever be.
This nightmare of a situation was made even worse when Wilcher and her grandmother visited KFC for a meal and were asked by the restaurant to leave because the girl’s face “was disrupting the customers.” Wilcher’s grandmother confirmed that the 3-year-old heard every word, understood exactly what was happening, and was traumatized by the restaurant’s cruelty.
Let’s rewind and slo-mo this thing just so we can all be on the same page re: how badly KFC f-d this situation up. You see a child that has obviously been through hell and back sitting at one of your booths eating mashed potatoes and gravy with her grandmother because this little girl is on a feeding tube and that’s basically all she can swallow. Maybe some of your customers are eeked out by the tube, or the bandages, or the eyepatch. That’s one hundred percent their problem. Those people don’t have to be jackasses and stare. Having good manners and going about their business and not ostracizing a small child was absolutely an option here. Instead of adults actively practicing compassion and demonstrating that adult quality of human decency, the patrons of the restaurant practiced jackassery and demonstrated just how childish adults can be. And rather than having a backbone and doing the right thing, the franchise succumbed to the pressures of ignorance and intolerance.
KFC has since offered to donate $30,000 to assist with Wilcher’s medical bills. That’s a hefty chunk of change, and while I’m sure the family welcomes the aid, from the outside looking in, it’s a little difficult not to see this gesture as ass-covering. Even if KFC’s attempt at reparations come from a decent place, the damage has been done.
Wilcher’s grandmother says the experience was so traumatic for the little girl that she’s now afraid to be seen in public.
“When we go to a store, she doesn’t even want to get out [of the car],” her grandmother told Buzzfeed. “She’s three years old and she’s embarrassed about what she looks like. She’s embarrassed, and I hate it because she shouldn’t be. It ain’t her fault.”
I’m so angry that the lesson this little girl has learned from her hellish ordeal is that the public space is not a safe place for her. That there are places she is not allowed based on the one thing she cannot control: the way she looks. This is a terrible lesson to teach a child. It’s an inhuman standard to enforce. $30,000 is a lot of money, but there’s no amount of money that makes up for treating a child as though she is less than human. The only good thing that can come out of a situation like this is to remind ourselves to NOT behave like those people in KFC and to practice tolerance, compassion and kindness whenever and wherever we can.