Friday, October 05, 2007


"I think most well-meaning people understand it for what it was. It was a weapon to destroy me, clear and simple"
clarence thomas

My friend Grizzbabe did a post a while back called 'A Little Too Racially Sensitive" which was about some young fellows in her community that had been fired from a job in a Theatre where they had stored ropes my fashioning nooses and hanging them from the rigging onstage. Something like that. Grizz wanted to know what her readers thought of that and had some pretty good comments.
This country is still very Racialy sensitive; and it should be. Clarence Thomas has been back in the news recently, we have the "Jena 6" and here in Dallas the City Council has been looking at banning the "baggy pants" that are worn by an awful lot of young people, but seems to be a fashion set by young black men.
Me? I can only speak for my own self, and generally find myself saying too much.
And that is what this post is about.
I didn't comment on the Grizzbabes post; partly because I have too much to say about it. You see, I have actually been fired for making a racialy insensitive remark.
Back in the 80's as a young Supervisor in the Kitchen, I pulled a fine batch of BBQ ribs out of the Oven and began to chomp on one. They were so good that I declared to the entire kitchen thet
'These ribs be good like a Mo'fo'!"
Everybody laughed and I might have gotten away with it except that I did it again the next day. Now my ladies in the Salad Area that had known me for years...Panola, Pearl and Geraldine (I had actually given blood to Geraldine before and should do a post just about her) they just shook their heads and said
"That boy is Crazy"
and sure enough not much more than an hour had passed before I found myself down in Personell.
I had offended somebody.
But this little episode would not cost me my job....that would come a few years later.

I was woking as Executive Sous Chef for a small hotel in the early 90's. There was a young black cook named Tony that I did not get along with very well. He was never prepared for business and I was usually on his ass.
One night the Restaurant was "in the Weeds", very busy and the Cooks were behind. I came onto the line to give assist and get them out of the weeds. I found that Tony did not have a scoop or a spoon for putting the Potato Salad onto plates and was using his bare hands.
"Whats the deal here Tony, is our food untouched by the Human Hand?" says I.
'Are you calling me a Monkey?" he asks.
"Yeah, Tony, a Monkey...a big floppy eared Monkey, and as soon as we get out of the Weeds, we will have us a couple of Banana Splits".

Of course, none of this was funny, or Professional, and I found the next day that I was out of a job.
I thought then that they were right to fire me. I still think they were. Hell, I didn't like it there anyway.
My point?
Maybe its that you can start out speaking of BBQ Ribs, but you wind up talking about race.
Or you might think you are speaking of proper food handling techniques, or Banana Splits, but find you are talking about race.
And you might suppose you are speaking of High Heeled Shoes, and how your neighbor is funny as Hell, but you just might be talking about Race.

I try to be sensitive but still have a hard time keeping my big Mailbox shut.
If I have offended anybody, please accept this apology and explanation.


Dave Mows Grass said...

Everything you say is about something so it is best to just not say anything. The problem is that I have something to say. I guess I'll use reasonable care and take my chances.

Mother of Invention said...

We used to say that all the time and I think I'd not have taken offence no matter what race I was.

GrizzBabe said...

Steve, I know you are a good-hearted man and that your intentions are not to hurt anyone. I saw nothing offensive in your previous post. Quite the contrary, I thought it was absolutely delightful. No need to apologize here.

Head Duck Wrangler said...

Just about your spelling....
noose ..... didn't you mean Moose or maybe nuisance? Goose?
Was it a nuisance to hear about the noose on the news and nothing about gnus?
(Here in Northwest Arkansas, they sell tar at the Home Depot and right next door, at the Bed Bath and Beyond, they sell feather pillows. A conspiracy?)
Quack, Quack!

Annelisa said...

I don't know...

I think this is a difficult one, because to avoid the subject and make it taboo is as bad as shouting out about it all the time and making a meal of it!

Yes, one could be quiet, but we live in the real world of many and varied races, and living here, we experience good and bad of other races as our own. We do take the mickey out of our own peoples...that is natural (if one isn't too 'up themselves' that they are unable to appreciate the humour in everyday situations) and we do find humour in other ways of life, because that is, in general, a healthier way of dealing with it than to be outright rude and lacking in understanding.

Saying that, I've always taught my children that, no matter what other people they know do, and no matter if that comedians in the media do it, when a person does laugh at a person (whether of different race or not) or whether terms meant to degrade are used (even if that person/ race uses those terms themselves) it continues the basic ideas of inequality. It isn't often meant.

I had a black friend (now sadly dead) who was such a brilliant person. We used to argue over this issue, because I found it unacceptable that my ex would quite happily use derogatory terms about black people, and say it was alright because he wasn't racist (having many friends of different races) and that those friends would make the same comments/ remarks themselves.

Having learnt about the significance of our everyday speech (not only in linguistic psychology at Uni, but also in my own experiences) I believe that remarks we make, even in jest, carry a lot of weight. They are a two-edged sword. They bring issues out into the open and deal with them, yet perpetuate those very issues.

Difficult one...

Old Lady said...

My grandfather used to call me a monkey.

I do not think that there is a person in the world that can claim to have NEVER uttered or thought a racial, sexual, religious or ethnically biased phrase or thought. No one is that pure. We, as a sinful, mistake ridden species need to find room for understanding and forgiveness in order to progress and move forward.

An old phrase or two comes to mind.

Once bitten, twice shy, three times a fool.

Black people kid me about my whiteness. Men kid me about my femaleness. Young people kid me about my age, yada yada yada.

You are a big man, Steve. A hell of a big man.