Saturday, April 21, 2018

Racism lurking behind Every Rock and Tree: Starbucks and Liberal Hypersensitivity


In the early 80s, when I thought race relations were getting better in the USA

I saw an interesting bit between W. Kamau Bell and Don Lemon on CNN today. Bell, in a most pleasant and friendly manner, spoke about an incident he had in Berkeley, California at a place called the Elmwood Cafe back in 2015. He gave an example of unconcious bias and unintential racism that he believes is similar to the recent Starbucks arrest of two black men. Actually, the two incidents are quite different. The men in Starbucks incident broke the rules of a private establishment when they refused to make a purchase or leave when asked and Bell did not break any rules at all; he was truly an innocent in what occurred at the Elmwood Cafe.

But, I still will argue with Bell that what happened to him was NOT racism (any more than the Starbucks incident was racism) and it is this ultra liberal mentality of making everything about victimization and a perfect utopia that is causing massive damage to our country. One can't get so sensitive about each moment of human behavior (and ignore our own behaviors that contribute to things happening) and think that you are going to make us all better friends in the long run. In reality, you are making too much ado over too little and making enemies and pushing people into opposite corners.

Here is what happened at the Elmwood Cafe. This is a cafe Bell's wife has loved dining at for many years and they have dined together there without any problems numerous times. So, right up front we have Bell admitting the Elmwood Cafe has never acted in any racist manner against him in the past. Well, on this particular day his white wife (so he is no blatant racist himself, only super liberal and a community organizer and race commentator) was sitting with a few white girlfriends at a table outside. Bell was down the street at a bookstore, bought a children's book, refused the bag and walked out with the book in hand. He walks down to the restaurant and onto the patio area of the cafe and is standing at the table where his wife and friends are sitting and he shows them the book. While he is exhibiting this book to the ladies at the table, he hears a knock on the window behind the table and some guy who works there gives him a glare and mouths "Out!" or "Go away!"

Bell, says he felt the guy was treating him like a dog and doing so because he was a black man. He spoke with management and his wife told them he was her husband and they apologized and said they thought he was trying to sell them something. They denied it was anything racial. Bell thinks otherwise. He believes that it was because he was a black man talking to a group of white woman that they pegged him as harassing them. He refuses to take his wife back to her favorite restaurant and demanded a community conversation with Elmwood Cafe about racism.

Oh, for fuck's sake, Kamau, you are going to have some long and difficult decades ahead being married to a white woman and raising biracial kids. You do realize that sometime in the future someone is going to ask if those kids are yours when you are out and about with them. Are you going to get all enraged and racism about it? There have been white men at the local playground who have had people call the police on them because they saw them approaching children which turned out to be their own. Why? Because we are hypersensitive about pedophiles and child abductors. It isn't always personal or about race.

So, what happened at the Elmwood Cafe? If your book had been in a bag and you had been chatting with some white women, probably nothing would have happened. Problem was, you really DID look like some guy trying to sell something on their property. If a white male had been holding out a book to a group of black women, the same thing might have happened. Then is it racism? Or can it not be racist the other way around? What about if a white guy was standing there showing a book to a table of white women and it still look like he was trying to sell them something and it turns out to be one of the women's husbands? What then?

The simple fact is, Bell, you had zero evidence of racism here except in your own head. And, EVEN if it were true that because you were of a different race it seemed more likely to someone working at the cafe you were not connected to the group and this is so-called unconcious bias, good lord, are you going to make a federal case out of every individual's level of ability to perfectly access a situation and have the perfect reaction? Oh, yeah, right, you actually DID make a federal case out of nothing.

Before I get the stupid white privilege crap slung at me here or you telling me I am a racist or that I also need to attend those stupid Starbucks classes, I was married to a black man for twenty-five years and I have two biracial children and one black son. My family has experienced very little racism (well, it is getting worse now because everyone is becoming so hostile about politics and race) in our time together. One, my ex and my kids always respected other people, dressed properly, and behaved well. No one has had problems driving while black or getting the police called on them. This doesn't mean we haven't had a few moments where we could have gotten all offended like Bell, but having compassion for others -their innocence, their stupidity, or their upbringing - and a sense of humor has always done us well. I am sure my kids may have had a few times when they did experience some level or racism but they clearly have learned to keep things in perspective and not make themselves victims. And, if there was true discrimination that was of the clear breaking-the-law kind of thing, my ex and I did stand up to that and I am sure my kids would as well. We are not for blinding ourselves to serious problems; we are just not willing to make things worse in our country and tear everything apart that has been built to make some false political statement. Below I will list every race issue I have dealt with in my life in a interracial marriage and mixed-race family and you can decide if I handled things well or if I overreacted or underreacted to racism in America.

Incident One: I was moving into my new apartment in a mixed race apartment building. I had three white friends helping bring up boxes. My husband was not with us. An elderly Jewish lady who was going to be my future next-door-neighbor came up to me and said, "So glad you are not black!" To which I replied, mimicking Groucho Marx with his cigar, "You're only going to be half-glad when you see my husband!" The woman actually looked stricken and went on to explain she was only worried about loud music which her previous black neighbors had played night after night. I told her that my husband did like to play his reggae too loud but, if he did, she should knock on our door and we would be sure to turn it down. She turned out to be a most sweet neighbor, inviting us to dinner and bringing us home baked goodies.

Incident Two: I worked for Berlitz teaching English. I went through the training and then the probationary period at a horribly low wage (a number of months) and was just about to get to permanent employment and a decent wage. I had received accommodations for my work and even one from a high level embassy person. One day, my husband picked me up from work and the next day I was fired. This was my first experience with what I thought was clear racism. I filed with the EOCC and they ruled in favor of Berlitz! Why? They told me it wasn't a racism issue but that Berlitz was a shitty company and they fired everyone when they finished the probabationary period so they didn't have to pay them a decent salary. So, it was just the timing that made it look racist and, it goes to show, not everything is racist; sometimes it is just assholeness. (Comment to Berlitz; you were jerks back in 1979, so you may be an okay company now).

Incident Three: My husband worked for a German company and they told him if he went to electronics school he could move out of the mechanical section and up into a better job. He did that, graduated, and when a job opened up he was now qualified for, the manager of that division told him to apply. They hired a white guy with no skills for the position. When a second job opened up, THAT manager told him to apply (these managers knew him and like him and his work ethic) and he applied again. Another lesser skilled white guy was hired. I told him to file with the EOCC. He won. the EOCC found there was clear racial discrimination. My husband continued on with the company after they settled (it was a poor settlement, actually, in that my husband had to accept a lesser salary than he should have) but he got the job he wanted. He didn't hold a grudge (because he knew it wasn't everyone in the company, just some dick at the top) and he went on to work there for three decades and had a great career.

Incident Four: My husband and I had just moved into an all white neighborhood and he went running. As he was walking back up the hill to our house, some middle-aged white guy in a pickup drove by him and yelled at him to get out of the neighborhood. Okay, this was probably a bit racist, but it was also probably some guy thinking a sketchy guy (in sweats wandering around in an area he probably didn't live in) might be up to no good. Luckily, this didn't and wouldn't have turned into a Zimmerman and Trevon Martin thing because they guy didn't approach my husband on foot and, even if he did, my husband wouldn't have gotten into a fight with him. My husband went on to living in the very white community for the next 20 years and became the soccer coach and ran for mayor and never had another incident (and this was kind of a working class white community with people with guns and pickup trucks). Which lead to the next incident (a little out of order of our lives), but so much like this one I have to put it next.

Incident Five: Just three years ago when I moved into Bowie, Maryland, the wealthiest black community in the US (and the largest where whites are a minority), my cat went missing and I made up fliers and was distributing them in the area. I went into a cul-de-sac on foot and was closing in on one of the mailboxes when a black woman in a Mercedes pulled into her driveway, stopped, rolled down her window, and asked what I was doing there. Racist! Hah! Yeah, white woman in sweats wandering around in rich black area...shades of what happened to my husband 35 years ago. But, again no Zimmerman/Martin scenario. I showed her my flier, told her I lived down the road, and was searching for my missing cat. The lady was very nice and wished me well.

Incident Six: I was returning from Canada with my three kids (my husband wasn't with me) and when I reached the border, the guard looked into my car, saw my kids in the back and asked if they were mine. I looked back at them and then in mock horror said, "Oh, my god, I always thought they were!" The guard cracked up and, with a big grin on his face, passed me on through.

Incident Seven: One year when my sons were about eight and my daughter ten, they attended a summer church bible school. They had a rule, for safety of the children, that a child could only leave at the end of the program day in the company of a parent. So, my black son, Jeremy, looked out the door and saw me coming up the walk. He said to the church lady, "There's my mom!" and tried to go out the door and the woman looked out the door and said, "No, she's not here" and held him back. My son said, "Yes, she is!" and the woman said, "No, she's not," and held on to him. I came in the door and my son said, "Here she is!" and I put my arm around him and the white church lady said, "Oh." We laughed about it all the way home. We sat at the dinner table and said, "Yes, she is!" "No, she's not!" We thought it was hilarious. We realized that a black church lady might have done the same thing. If the world gets to the point where interracial adoptions are as prevalent as biological births then maybe the woman wouldn't have thought I wasn't his mother. We see a lot less questions these days with white people who have adopted Chinese babies because it is getting more common.

Okay, those are truly ALL the big racial moments of our lives as a family for three and a half decades. Wow...horrible, right? We are all so damaged! ::sigh:: We are all just fine because we didn't jump to the racist conclusion every time some little thing happened, we gave people a break, and we had a sense of humor. We also act right and don't break rules and don't make sudden moves around the police, run from them, and point shiny objects at them. We certainly would never resist arrest if that would ever happen. We respect others and so they respect us.

And we don't make racist mountains out of tiny minor misunderstanding molehills and we never played the race card except TWO times when it seemed truly warranted over three decades ago when discrimination against blacks was far worse than today and, then, we just went through the proper governmental channels.

Our country is being pushed into a race war by ultra-liberal white Social Justice Warriors and far left black power groups like Black Lives Matter. Their angry protests and boycotts and their ranting to the media are tearing us all apart instead of bringing us together by focusing on being friends, making friends, sharing culture, improving our own communities - black, white, Hispanic, Asian, mixed - by fixing our educational system, our families, our drug use, our criminality, and by supporting the police that protect our communities and put their lives on the line every day. These groups are flaming the tiniest of little embers to make a racist problem where there isn't one and sometimes just throwing a Molotov cocktail at our society when they riot and accuse police of murder when the police where only acting in self-defense against a thug acting in a criminal manner. There ARE true incidents of racial discrimination and police brutality but all this nitpicking and straight up lying is destroying all the racial progress that has been made in this country.

So, sad, how we have come to this. It is a plague that is spreading and I just hope it can be killed before our country implodes.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

April 20, 2018

  

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love this! I hope it goes viral.



jack osborne said...

I was in the restaurant biz. A black customer showed one of my waitresses a picture of a little blond boy and said, "That's my son." The waitress said, "That can't be your kid!" The black guy got angry and said, "Why can't it be my kid?" The waitress replied, "Because he doesn't have curly hair!" ( Everybody cracked up!)

Pat Brown said...

Anon 12:53 Thanks! It would be nice if it would to get the point across but I won't hold my breath!

Pat Brown said...

Jack,

Haha! Love it!