Double-Standard Alive and Well in Obamamerica

Patronizing businesses based upon race in a purportedly post-racial environment

Imagine for a moment that my wife and I, both as white as they come, made a decision between us that from this point forward we would only frequent white-owned businesses. Only buy products from white-owned stores. Only eat dinner at white-owned restaurants.

Then, imagine if Joanna and I decided that, so proud of our commitment to our white heritage, we would tell the world about what we’re doing, and do our very best to start a nationwide movement among fellow white people.

It’s an “empowerment experiment,” we would say, noting that whites have been primary businessowners for so long, but now are forced to increasingly share various markets with minority business owners.

Al Sharpton would be so far up my posterior that I’d be coughing up pinstripes and silk pocket squares. The outrage would be overwhelming. Our children would be ostracized, our employment would be in jeopardy, and Geraldo Rivera would be knocking on our front door.

Yet, when Chicago residents John and Maggie Anderson started a “buy black” movement which could soon see the establishment of a nationwide database of black-owned businesses and encourages the patronization of black-owned businesses at the expense of white-owned ones, we’ve heard nary a peep. No outrage.

“My people have been here for 400 years,” said Maggie Anderson, “and we don’t even have a Walgreens to show for it.”

Well, guess what? You have a president to show for it. The achievement gap, ma’am, is officially closed. If there was a funtional and solid pharmacy-type business enterprise that also happened to be black-owned, there would be a flourishing business of that type. Right now, there is not — but rather than look at the race issue, perhaps focus should be first placed elsewhere.

Forgive me, but I was under the impression that, in the age of Obama, America was to be post-racial. Patronizing businesses and buying products owned and manufactured by one particular race certainly does not sound very post-racial to me. While a certain amount of ethnic pride is certainly understandable–my wife’s Polish family frequents Polish-heavy areas of Philadelphia to purchase specialty and imported foods from Polish-owned markets–there is a difference between searching for unique products and selecting your dry cleaner because he or she is black or white.

How can we ever get past this racial divide in America if so many people go out of their way to widen and exploit it? During this past election, as American politics took on more racial undertones than seen in a long while, I asked why we simply could not judge a politician on his or her merits and experience rather than their skin color; now, I ask the same about businesses — why can’t we judge a particular business on the services it provides and the value it offers rather than the superficial features of those who change the sign from “closed” to “open” every morning?

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Comments

  1. EBONY AND EBONY LIVE TOGETHER IN PERFECT HARMONY says:

    Come join me in a start up of White-Entertainment-Television, and the White Caucus in Congress, and White History Month in school.

  2. CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? says:

    Being white is outta sight! Don’t buy black, lets set em back! Apparently the 60′s and Martin Luther King, Jr. was all for nought. Shame on them all. We all bleed red people.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like large scale affirmative action at its best-to the detriment of entire communities–buy black, or else…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Alright, for far too long I have enjoyed the comments by the person(s) whose message is reflected in his/her ever-changing name/identity.

    Today’s comment by Ebony and Ebony provided for another chuckle. Thank you, and keep those short and sharp thoughts coming.

    Jeff–thanks for yet another fine article on a fantastic website.

    jeano

  5. THE UNKNOWN COMIC says:

    Jeano,

    Thank you! I seem to become quite comedic when I am pissed and fear for my country. If it ever comes to it I hope my aim is as sharp as my humor. God Bless the REPUBLIC!

  6. elspeth says:

    Don’t forget the White Chamber of Commerce, the White Miss America contest, and United Caucasian College Fund.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ha- I had an arguement with a black girl over this back in 1996and the fact the black community had a phone book with only black owned business for them to refer to. I was outraged then and still am. I was called a racist for saying that was a racist thing to do. I was informed the phone book was established because these companies gave back to the poor black community. What about the poor white, poor asian and poor mexican communities I ask…response receieved “well you are just racist since you have a problem with it”.

    I have a huge problem with things of this nature and refuse not to speak on this matter. I spent my younger years overseas (military brat) and had assumed when studing history on racism that it was history. I was informed otherwise by my neighborhood friends I had made upon my return to the United States. Just a hint here…I and my brother were the only white kids on the school bus. Yes, how ironic is it that I had to be informed to be a racist by my black friends.

    Lisa

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good luck getting anyone to acknowledge that there’s anything wrong with reverse descrimination….I was told time again in college that being white…I could never be descriminated against..or under stand what its like to be a minority…but I was a religious, conservative straight white male in a freshman class of 60 in the honors program…Only 4 others fit that description..man, was I a target. I was blamed for everything from slavery (my family was still in Ireland) to why the instructor couildn’t get a decent spot to park her Lexus.

  9. Linda says:

    “I was called a racist for saying that was a racist thing to do.”

    YEOOOOOWWWWWWWWW and AAAARGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

    If you want to be the same and have equal opportunity, then STOP drawing the lines.

  10. Katherine says:

    Just because one exemplar (Obama) achieves ultimate power, doesn’t mean the social identities to which s/he belongs are freed from all oppression. Put another way, ONE case does not make the generalization true!

    Did women automatically have an easy and equal time in math and science pursuits after Marie Curie? No.

    I’m not trying to make a point about “reverse discrimination” or this “buy black” campaign or anything, but I hate when people fall prey to the logical fallacy that achievement gaps are gone and isms are gone as soon as ONE person makes it past a barrier. Obama’s presidency has certainly done a lot for curbing discrimination against black people, but his election doesn’t just solve the problem immediately.

  11. I SEE A RED DOOR AND I WANT IT PAINTED BLACK says:

    Katherine,

    Powell would have made a better BLACK president.

  12. Linda says:

    Maybe so, Katherine. But, further drawing the lines by this reverse discrimination and patronizing only black businesses won’t curb the discrimination either. I believe that Morgan Freeman (who, the last time I checked was a black man himself, I believe) said it quite succinctly when he said that this country will never get over racism until it stops talking about it and focusing on it. If you continue to draw lines and, let’s say, “only buy from black businesses,” then you are focusing even harder on the problem and not reaching out for the solution. Don’t make me have to go down the list of ultra successful black people. In the 21st century you can (yes, whether you want to believe it or not) achieve whatever you want, when you want . . . no matter who you are. If you don’t achieve, you have no one to blame but yourself.

    I have to close now because this issue just enrages me.

  13. GIVE IT A REST ALREADY says:

    Katherine,

    oh please. Powell makes Chairman JCS and could have run for president, The NFL is dominated, The NBA us dominated, and I see more blacks here in Memphis driving Lexus’ and BMW’s than I do whites. Everybody is equal if they have the damned desire and initiative to go for it.

  14. JEFF SCHREIBER says:

    Nice point about Marie Curie, Katherine. And I understand where you’re coming from — certainly, my statement that the achievement gap is gone might have been a little hyperbole, but the heart of it stays.

    The opportunity is there … for anyone.

    Now, taking the Curie point — if a white man with the beginnings of an American Taliban beard can pass the Connecticut and New York bar exams, does that mean that John Walker Lindh should be able to practice?

  15. goddessdivine says:

    This whole black vs white wouldn’t be an issue if people would just quit bringing it up.

    Jeff, the Al Sharpton joke was hilarious. I almost blew my dinner out of my nose.

  16. Teri~Facedown says:

    I was watching The View the day after the election and Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd were talking about how historic the evening was. They were very emotional about the election of the first black president. I was astonished with their response; “Now we can tell our children and grandchildren that they can truly become anything they want to become.” My first response was “Who is telling them anything different?”
    It was very enlightening, and while I did have compassion for them, I also had anger. As I sat and pondered the many, MANY successful black people in America, I wondered why those people weren’t enough of a role model? People like Oprah Winfry, Denzel Washington, Miles Davis, Condolezza Rice, Colin Powell…etc. Not to mention all of the black professionals. Doctors, lawyers, CEOs.

    I understand the excitement for the first black president. It is a great thing. But I hope it is enough for the “children and grandchildren” to buck up and make something of themselves. There’s no longer any excuse!

  17. elspeth says:

    I want to say something about the patterns we see developing in this administration (crisis, big egos, excessive spending, etc.), and I want to say something about the fact that Obama is the least experienced president we have ever had.

    But, those are about the best words I can put together on either subject at the moment.

    And, I probably would have passed up posting anything, except I wanted to share the verification word (sometimes these are poignant, sometimes funny): foolow.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The truth of racism was crystal clear when 94% of Blacks voted for Obama, in direct denial of their traditional position on abortion. Having a person of Obama’s values, or lack thereof, as the first black president is a national tradgedy. (I’m watching Thomas Sowell as I write this, and thinking to myself, “why not someone like him?”)

    I believe that Obama will single-handedly provoke racial tension to new heights in the furtherence of the chaos that will enable him to exercise heretofore unheard of government control. It’s just one of the tools that he will use to divide America.

    To understand where we are headed with this issue, all you have to do is take a close look at who, and what, his long-time friends and associates were. Have you read Cone’s “A Black Theology of Liberation”, or Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, or have you listened to Jeremiah Wright’s “sermons”?

    Let me quote (again) from the “Preface to the 1970 Edition” of the above referenced book by James Cone; “There will be no peace in America until whites begin to hate their whiteness, asking from the depth of their being: ‘How can we become black?’”

    No, there’s no racial peace in sight, I’m afraid. America is truly guilty of racial injustice during the course of our history, and, the progress that we have made to redress that failure notwithstanding, the pendulum is about to swing in the other direction. It’s the inevitable consequence of the fallen human nature, which is common to all races and colors.

    Old Bob

  19. elspeth says:

    Jeff,

    Are passing the bar exams in CT and NY all that is required for JWL to practice? Or, is there more required?

    Maybe your question was rhetorical, but if the prejudice is “Taliban”, and not the American or beard parts, do we have laws to prevent him from practicing?

  20. ratpyan says:

    I had to smile to find this article and these comments tonight. Earlier this evening I left feedback at their website beginning how racist can you get? I pointed out that there are plenty of successful Black business people who made it with a good business plan, hard work and luck, who didn’t need special treatment and that it wouldn’t be so good if all the whites, polish, italian, jewish folks decided to shop and do business only with their own heritage. If they want to make a difference mentor some kids, support small business loans, and give back to schools and organizations that help children escape poverty and envision a better life. If we shop based on color of the owner does it cease to matter how fresh the cheese is or what the service is like? Is Black the only measure? To me its not a measure at all really not an issue. How would I even know if the owner of a store is Black or White, and why would I care if they had good products and were friendly and efficient?
    Too many people are fighting a battle that’s won and wasting their energy on it or saving themselves from being accountable by hiding behind it.

  21. Linda says:

    I used to think that my husband was the master of stopping discussions with his disjointed segues, but I think you just overtook him Jeff. Great way to put an end to this discussion!! :)

  22. Rix says:

    I wanna see that “buy black” movement started in my area so I’d know which businesses to avoid. And no, I don’t mind being called a racist – I do tend to loathe back people who loathe me.

  23. Bobby K. Tx says:

    Don’t forget Miss White America
    Your right Jeff, if anyone of none color did the same, the left and ACLU, NAACP, Rainbow Co. would be all over it. it is a shame, race is used when it needs to be, anyone other then the left uses race and we are called a racist.

    How did finals go?

  24. JEFF SCHREIBER says:

    How did finals go?One went okay. The other … not so good. We’ll see, though, when the grades come out. I haven’t had anything less than a B+ yet, but right now, I’m worried about passing the last one.

    elspeth said…

    Jeff,

    Are passing the bar exams in CT and NY all that is required for JWL to practice? Or, is there more required?

    Maybe your question was rhetorical, but if the prejudice is “Taliban”, and not the American or beard parts, do we have laws to prevent him from practicing?Sorry, fella — that was kind of an inside joke.

    I grew up with Katherine’s husband, and I’m still incredibly proud of him for passing the CT and NY bar exams. I also really enjoy poking fun of him when he “forgets” to shave, because hair only seems to grow below his jawline.

    Both Katherine and her husband are liberals — the thing is, if all libs could be as reasonable, as informed, as articulate, and as willing to think as they are, this country would be headed in an entirely different direction.

    In the meantime, I don’t know how she tolerates coming here and reading all of my arguments!

    – Jeff

  25. CRAYOLA says:

    Keep facts and emotions in check people, he is HALF black.

  26. THIS GUY IS NOT 'BLACK' says:

    His mom was pearly white, his dad a dark skinned African sperm donor…period.; he had no input into his upbringing! Raised my a white mom for a short period, in the white culture, and more so by his white grandparents. And the Black community wants to embrace this guy as their miracle black guy? It’s kinda pathetic.

  27. Jacques says:

    Barry’s genetic makeup:

    Caucasian 50% maternal side
    Arabic 44.75% paternal
    Luo 6.25% African Negro

    His “blackness” is insufficient
    to qualify for minority status
    under U S Census Bureau
    regulations which require a
    minimum of 12% percent in order
    to be a “Minority”. Ergo Barry
    is our first Arab-American Usurper.

  28. HEY LOOK, I'M BROWN! says:

    If we want to go by skin color so much, very much against what Martin Luther King Jr. espoused, I just gotta say that six months out of the year I tan darker than Obama’s creamy tan color, so should I at that point be eligible for some special treatment in the realm of upward mobility?

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm… OK — sarcasm time!

    >>> If there was a funtional and solid pharmacy-type business enterprise that also happened to be black-owned, there would be a flourishing business of that type.

    Drug dealers anyone?

    Hey, you didn't say *legal* :)

  30. IS IT COLD IN HERE OR IS IT JUST HER? says:

    Correction to my post above, “Can’t we all just get along”; we all bleed red, BUT for Nancy Pelosi, she bleeds ice water.

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