Thursday, May 29, 2014

Racist At The Coffee Shop Needs To Be Grounded

Ed. Note: This article is being reprinted in memory of Maya Angelou, who fought the erase the hate. May her legacy live on in us.

Dear Tazi:

I have a coffee-shop acquaintance that I will call "Archie". He is one of several who gather for caffeine and conversation, mostly political, at our local non-alcoholic watering hole. Most of us are white, retired professionals, but all races and walks of life are welcome and we do not discriminate on any basis - except for Archie.

Archie is a racist. The man jokes that he "won't even take his coffee black", and always quotes statistics on how the black people of this country are the root cause of all social ills. Abortion? [According to Archie] Black people have the highest rate of it. Poverty? [According to Archie] Black people make up the majority of the welfare rolls. Fatherless households? Well, you get the picture. Archie always has percentages and numbers to make his arguments sound believable; but is never able to remember his sources, always telling us that "the mainstream media will never tell you the truth. You need to read the alternate sources".

We - and other patrons of this particular coffee shop - tolerate Archie because he is the owner's father, and we do not wish to punish a young entrepreneur by withholding our business; but what Archie said recently about the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was out of control, and needs to be addressed.

As a group, we were discussing the Arab Spring, which led to a comparison of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's, and the question of whether or not the Occupy Wall Street movement could be as successful as either - typical political debate - when Archie claimed that Dr. King was a "reverse racist" who hated white people; that the FBI was investigating him; that his PhD was honorary; that he wasn't even a real minister, that he had dropped out of the seminary; and that Martin Luther King was not his father's given name, so "how could he be a 'junior'?". A stony silence was the response we all gave, and as a group we all got up and distanced ourselves from Archie.

As I have said, we do not wish to patron another coffee shop; but we can't see ourselves rejoining Archie - who comes with the place - in political debate. Do you have a rejoinder with which I might present Archie? Educated debate does not work on the man, nor does presenting him with academically acceptable materials (which he considers "mainstream" and therefore biased). As a retired college professor, I find the man's ignorance astounding. I would like to ignore him, but that doesn't feel right; yet I am unable to reach him through traditional means. Might you have some ideas that I am overlooking? I am in my late seventies, and admit that Internet research is not my forte.

The Professor

Dear Professor:

You get one paw up on your desire to educate, for it was Dr. King himself who said, "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." (By the way, his doctorate was not an honorary; he earned a PhD in Philosophy from Boston University in 1955. His Bachelors in Divinity was from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, 1951). The other paw stays down, due to your tolerance of racism up to this point.

Where Archie is getting his "facts" on issues like abortion, poverty, welfare, etc. is questionable. I would suggest that you ask him to produce his sources the next time he decides to sound off on something. Use words he will understand: Put up or shut up! Raw statistics never tell the full story, nor the reasoning behind the numbers - they are just numbers. Whereas there is a crisis in the Black community with regard to absentee fathers and abortion (might there be a connection?); according to the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, white people actually make up the plurality of America's welfare rolls. Is the U.S. Government Printing Office too mainstream a media source for Archie?

As for Archie's comments on Dr. King's credentials, it appears he gets his information from very questionable, completely un-sourced articles written by authors with no searchable credentials. When I Google searched "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." and "not a minister", I found a hate-speech links sponsored by the ironically titled website "". When I did a Google Scholar search for the same, I found nothing. Ditto with a Lexis-Nexis search, JSTOR search, and other highly respected search engines. Does Archie consider scholarly journals to be "mainstream media" as well? If so, it would appear that his mind is closed to all sources but his own.


P.S. As for not wanting to punish the son for the sins of the father: While this is admirable, I am sure that there are others who are not so sympathetic. You would do well to complain to the owner. If enough people start taking their business elsewhere, he will have no choice but to "ground" his father.


  1. anyone with two seconds worth of googling can determine that blacks are vastly overrated in crime and welfare percentages vs. their percentage of the demographic overall. so a massive unburied cat turd on that point.

    as for whether archie's friends want to hear about blacks all the time, that is up to them...why not say "archie, we know you don't like blacks, but we don't want to hear it". easy enough?

  2. Way to be course about it. Percentages don't tell the whole story, like WHY they are so high in ratio. This is the stuff that social workers and sociologists try to understand so they can work on fixing the problem.