Racism, Racism Everywhere!

If pundits started calling Obama "too lazy" to win the presidency, of course the talk would righteously get branded "racist". But here prospective repo presidential candidate and honkey Fred Thompson suffers that criticism, and nobody notices or cares. This story reminded me of an experience last night at a bar, near my home in the mostly white Detroit suburb of Westland. I met two friends there, a couple, both black. The guy sees racism everywhere. I arrived there at about 11:30. They were the only blacks in the place, which had earlier hosted a black comedy show in the comedy club upstairs. By now only stragglers were left.

We sat at a U-shaped bar, in the middle of the U. On the left side a small group of honkies got served a pizza. "See, Paul. The barkeep just told us that the kitchen was closed." His girlfriend nodded in agreement: they had been denied service because they are black. The restaurant that had just opened itself to dozens of black folks paying money to employ black comedians had decided to sell liquor to a black couple, but to throw away food rather than trade it for money from black folks. And the two honkey bartenders knew this policy: sell 'em drinks, but not food.

But it's a pizza, they probably ordered it 30 mins ago. "That's true," the girlfriend said, seeming to by somewhat persuaded by my reasoning. About 30 mins later a small group of honkies to our right got served something in a basket; chicken bits or something, I assumed. "See!" exclaimed my friend. "What's your excuse for that?" I was shocked, I must admit. I walked over to the honkies, glanced in their bowl, and had my answer. "It's popcorn!" I reported back. "Why didn't we get offered popcorn?" Because you're black, of course was his unstated answer. I looked around. Of the 6 or so groups of people still at the bar, this was the only one with any popcorn. I pointed that out.

His response: to remind me that in Jan at a packed restaurant hosting a musical event, he and others in his group (all black) sitting far from the bar couldn't get the bartenders or waitresses to run a tab on their credit cards. However, those bartenders accepted mine for a tab with no hesitation. When I learned this, I investigated. The response I got from the manager: during this annual musical event, performed by a black group (this buddy belongs to the group, and the other members of his party were also "with the band") the house policy excludes tabs, except at the staff discretion.

And why would the staff take my credit card, but deny all the other people in my group, me the only honkey, they all black? Easy, says the manager: You are in here all the time. The staff knows what you drink (Guinness!), and they know you're name. The other people in your group they don't know.

Doesn't matter, though, these facts: the US is a stiflingly racist place, and racism is everywhere they look!


Nadir said...

Fred Thompson isn't lazy, but he is definitely more interested in being an actor than being a public official. He started acting on Law and Order before he was out of the Senate.

If Obama were called lazy, it would be untrue.

I was in that party that wasn't allowed a tab in that bar during the musical event. It seemed strange that the white guy walks in and immediately gets a tab, but the Black guys don't.

Was it racism? I didn't ask other bar patrons whether they got tabs or not. I only saw what Paul saw when he went to ask the manager why the Black guys in his party weren't allowed to start a tab, but he was.

It's probably true that if you look for racism you may see it. The problem is that many of us see it when we aren't expecting it or aren't looking for it.

Paul Hue said...

Andrew and I have come to frequent the place where the band played on average once a month. One of the things that he likes best about it: the way that the staff treats us. Yes, he goes there alone without me when I'm not available, and with our other friends, so he's been there many times without a honkey, and is downright enchanted by the personable treatment that the all-white staff affords him and all of us.

The night of the band playing, Andrew got saddled up to the bar and got a tab with no problem. But like me, they recognized him as a devoted regular. And he's black.