Monday, September 19, 2005

Do you think these guys vote?

The story starts off like a opening line of a joke, but there's nothing funny about it.

Four guys are sitting at a bar talking politics. The men at the small Eastern Oregon watering hole are talking about President Bush's nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts.

One man said he didn't know a court outsider could be appointed chief justice. He thought one of the existing justices had to move to take that job.

Another of the quartet said, "I think one of them that's on there should move up."

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that these rural blue collar workers were interested in current affairs, so I listened in on their conversation. It was the next man's comments that took me aback.

The man interjects: "You don't want that nigger."

I was stunned. I haven't heard a white man use that work in a public place in a long time, particularly one who didn't even bother to speak in hushed tones. As I sit their trying to pick my jaw up off the bar, the man goes on.

"Look what happened in New Orleans," the bigot said, referring to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and specifically New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, "with a nigger in charge."

The three men sitting with the man laughed.

There it was. The N-word, thrown right out there on the bar.

I was stunned, to say the least.

My heart sank even lower when a few minutes later my brother walked into the bar and greeting those same men at the corner of the bar. I was soon to learn my brother works with two of the men, two of the laughers, not the epithet spitter, not that it matters much.

I couldn't believe that the N-word could be tossed around so casually in my old hometown. It shouldn't have shocked me probably, since that's the same place I heard that word for the first time. But I had hoped the passage of time and societal enlightenment had come to my home town while I was away. Perhaps that was too much to hope for.

To add to the shock, a couple of days later I had the privilege to be introduced to the owner of the restaurant and bar by my brother. I wondered if the owner, and African American man knew his white patrons were tossing around the N-word, making fun of blacks in positions of leadership, when the proprietor was not around.

I hope the bar owner gets rich off the bigoted fucks, and they end up drunk and destitute on a street corner someday. Someday soon.


Tisha from Texas said...

As much as I hate to say it, I am not surprised. Racism is like a dormant virus, only rearing its ugly head during times of stress and, as you write about, ignorance.
Don't you wish the world was color-blind? At least in terms of skin color. I guess then it would be discrimination based on hair texture, weight, or what? Maybe choice in beverages. Coke versus Dr Pepper people. I would abstain, of course.

mawgawrita said...

If you have ever spent any time in the south, they still talk like that ALL THE TIME. ALL THE TIME. It's disgusting. It's unbelievable. It's shocking. It's not just in times of stress. It's while watching television, working on cars on Saturday afternoon, etc. I've lived there and I have seen it.

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