Today on Howard Stern I heard a news update which is apparently about a week old, but it was new to me. It centers in on the topic of ultra racial sensitivity. A Dallas Commissioner during a meeting regarding ticket collections said:
It sounds like Central Collections has become a black hole.
Obviously this was intended to imply that their ticket collections system was comparable to a black hole where things which enter it, never escape. I do not know much about the Dallas municipalities and their issues with ticket collections but when seeing this statement, no matter what the context, I do not see any semblance of racism.
However, commissioner John Wiley Price felt that this sort of language was unacceptable, and racist. (You can view the original video of the conversation here.) This is all fine and good, I suppose he is entitled to his stance that a black hole is a racist construct. However, after watching the follow-up interview, it is clear that he is either just being an asshole, or he is truly ultra-sensitive to race issues. I will transcribe a portion of the interview below:
Fox: Tell me again why you took offense to what Mr. Mayfield Said.
JWP: Well, first of all I probably just took offense to Mr. Mayfield. That’s number one. Number Two, its back to the culture, you know. The culture in terms of blackness is negative. It doesn’t make a difference if, you know, it becomes a scientific phenomenon, you know because a scientist could have just as easily called it a white hole. Why didn’t they? You know, and in this society anything that is black is seen as negative. So you name one comment “Oh, it’s in the black”, that’s one positive. But you tell me one thing in this society when you say white and get a negative connotation.
So if its Angel Food Cake, it’s White, Devils Food Cake, it’s Black.
If you’re the black sheep of the family, then you gotta be bad.
You know, white could be ok.
Fox: So should people be extra careful now, what they say?
JWP: Well you know I think people should always be careful. You know, I’m ok if I’m bartering with you, so. But if I try to Jew you down, oh is that racist? I thought it meant the same thing.
(continued on this video)
So lets analyze the racial connotations of some of the things he mentioned.
Black Hole vs. White Hole
A black hole is a phenomenon in space where gravity has become so intense focusing on a singularity that nothing, not even light, can escape it. Black is a color, or the lack of color which can most easily be defined as describing absence of light. If a black hole was called a white hole it would simply make no sense, at all. A “white hole” might be more likened to a sun, or something extraordinarily bright. But of course, white people get good things like stars and suns, and black people only get black holes, these terrible destructive things.
Angel Food vs. Devils Food
Angels are something believed to exist in heaven. Heaven is perceived as a very bright, cloudy, white place. Angel food cake is very light, airy, and white in texture. It would not describe the cake well to call it devils food. Devils are something believed to exist in hell. Hell is a very dark, sinful place. Devils food cake is a very rich, dark, and sinful food. To me, these descriptions simply make sense. In fact, I like devils food cake better, I doubt many people would tell you that dark devils food cake is terrible and that it was designed in order to further oppress black people.
Black Sheep of the Family
The term “Black Sheep” originated back in the 18th century. In flocks of sheep there is always a chance that the babies will be born with black coats. When you are raising sheep on a farm for profit, black wool is worth much less than white wool, and as such raising black sheep was undesirable. This got taken out of context to describe a troublesome or undesirable human child. There was never a racial implication to the expression.
Bartering vs. Jewing Down
To take Mr. Prices example of a similar expression to the above, but not related to the african-american race, he used Bartering with someone vs Jewing Down. Since Jewing down would be usage of the perceived stereotype that Jews are cheap, I see using the term Jewing someone down as racist, without any doubt in my mind. It does not fit with his other examples at all. He was obviously stretching here.
What have we come to in society? I realize that racism is still a huge problem in this world, and that there is a need to be aware of it. I realize that some people are more sensitive to it then others. Does this sort of extreme sensitivity really exist though?
I tend to think not. I believe that he simply was unaware of the scientific construct of a black hole during the meeting and as a knee-jerk reaction took offense to it. After he learned what it was, to save looking like a moron during the second interview, tried to maintain his stance and make off the cuff supporting examples which just make him look like more of a dick.
If there are more people like this guy out there, then I truly feel sorry for them. They must not be able to go even a few minutes without becoming offended by something or someone and probably live an angry and miserable life.
I really don’t understand people who are so sensitive to these issues, just let it roll off your back, the less it bothers you, the less people will use it against you.