Why Are We Asked to Give Our Race on Documents?
March 3, 2011
I have read an account of a story that happened in the state of Delaware. Apparently a motion picture theatre was showing a movie which included a singer warbling a provocative song. Without going into the merits of the song as to its artistic qualities or the value of the message the lyrics might have contained, about 23 members of the audience began to get louder and louder, raising their voices to such a degree that other members of the theatre audience could not enjoy the movie.
Naturally they complained to the manager of the moviehouse and proceeded to admonish those boisterous citizens to be quiet and let the rest of the audience enjoy the movie. Now it just so happened that the 23 chastised patrons were all black or to be really politically correct: African-American.
What do you suppose those folks did? They sued the management of the theatre for $2,000 each and, of course, claimed they were the victims of racial prejudice. When will the rest of us remember that any time a black citizen does something which merits remonstrance we should do what most politicians, average citizens, reporters and, yes, even talk show hosts do . . . ignore the disturbance, swallow hard, and if need be leave the theatre quietly.
But, to the credit of the management of the Delaware theatre, they chose to protect the rights of all citizens to enjoy the motion picture they had all paid their hard earned dollars to see. The suit brought by the irascible group was turned away by a judicious and brave court. So, the $2,000 a piece each person would have received was denied.
The theatre did make an announcement, however, that henceforth they will change their rules. That was not necessary, but when people are intimidated they do unnecessary things. This was not an earthshaking story and I hope I do not sound like I am nitpicking. However, I confess to being bitter because at the height of my career, I was attacked and fired for unsubstantiated charges having to do with race.
Race is truly the third rail of public discourse. I know that my dear friends who have become billionaires and are on hundreds of radio stations nationwide, were wise to ignore racial stories and commentaries on race. I know we are all supposed to be color-blind. If that is the case, then why each time I receive mail from my union, am I asked on the back to check off one of the following: Are you African-American; Hispanic; Asian; American Indian; Alaska Native or Aleut; Pacific Islander or Middle Eastern; Latino; Mixed Race or Other? And heaven forbid, white?
If race is supposed to be ignored; If we are supposed to be color-blind, why are these questions asked? I know the answer, but do you?