Standard Operating Procedure
Okay, just for the record, let it be known that there are white people who don’t care for black people. Then again, there are black people who don’t care much for other black people as well. That shouldn’t be a shocking revelation to anyone. Despite what people like to claim, racism and racial prejudice are doing very well in America. There is no such thing as a post racial era. This really is not all that newsworthy. Acts of racism happen each and every day.
Earlier this week, people at the Wal-Mart store in Washington Township in southern New Jersey were given a fresh reminder that some people are not participating in the all accepting, kumbaya singing, belief in the racial homogeny. A male voice on the public address system ordered all black people to leave the store now. A manager in the store quickly got on the system and apologized for the remark. It is unclear whether the first announcement was made by a customer or by an employee. Nevertheless, many customers expressed their anger to store management. It was pretty much standard procedure after the public act of racism.
In the article I read about the incident, store patron Sheila Ellington had been interviewed. The woman wanted to know why such statements are being made, because they fly in the face of what we supposedly teach our children about tolerance for all. The woman was shopping in the store with her friend, Patricia Covington, at the time of the announcement. She went on to say that if the event was meant to be a prank, neither she nor her friend was laughing. The two women plan to boycott the retailer until they are assured that the issue has been addressed so it doesn’t happen again. The pair said they were stunned when they first heard the announcement and believed they had misheard what was said. But once the words sank in, they grew angry. That is more standard procedure to a racially motivated incident.
Ms. Covington said that she depended on Wal-Mart for all her needs because the store pretty much has everything she could want. But until this issue is addressed to her satisfaction, until she is made comfortable as a black person in a Wal-Mart store, she refuses to patronize the store again. In a perverse kind of way, she will be doing exactly what the phantom announcer told her to.
Officials with Wal-Mart Stores said that the announcement was unacceptable and that the store is sparing no effort to determine who is responsible for the announcement and how it happened. This is standard operating procedure as well. The officials have made public statements saying that they were just as appalled by the incident as any one of their customers. The statement went on to say that whoever made the announcement acted in an inappropriate manner. Now that is some seriously tough talk.
This whole rigmarole is standard procedure for responding to blatant racism. Black customers are angry or saddened and want reassurance that they matter. Officials are appalled and incensed and promise to get to the bottom of things. And given a week or two the whole affair will simply blend back into our consciousness as we move on with all of our lives. Even Ms. Covington will get over her indignation and go back to supporting Wal-Mart Stores without her guarantee that black people will be made comfortable. As far as Wal-Mart is concerned, finding the culprit will take time and the Wal-Mart bottom line is that time is money. They know that their black customers will be back. This whole affair is nothing new. This isn’t the first time somebody said something ignorant about black people and it certainly won’t be the last.
In America, it is standard operating procedure is to take the black community for granted. Despite what Ms. Ellington said in her interview we don’t teach our children tolerance. In fact, we very much teach our children the exact opposite. Over and over again, in the way that we respond to social issues and social values, we teach our children that black people are not the equal of white people. If we did, we wouldn’t hear rogue announcements from anybody in a Wal-Mart store or anywhere else. We wouldn’t see anybody setting nooses in public as an unsubtle reminder of black people’s place on our social ladder. If we truly strove to teach our children that this kind of thing was something that happened in our past, it wouldn’t be happening today. Somebody is keeping racial hatred alive and well.
Black people need to stop walking around as if acts of racial discrimination would never happen to them. Racism is not something new. Racism is not all that shocking. Somebody got on the public address system and told black people to leave. Black people should. Why continue to patronize a store that has a history of racial discrimination? What I find shocking is the fact that black people who walk around as if we live in racially enlightened communities. They didn’t stop going to Wal-Mart when Wal-Mart was kicking somebody else’s ass. Nobody is going to stop going to Wal-Mart because of what happened to you. Wal-Mart really has nothing to worry about. That’s standard operating procedure as well.