June 29, 2012

About two months ago I mentioned my disappointment that Raleigh, NC lacked Southern culture, only to be informed in the comment section that true sweet-tea-drinking Southerners don”€™t even consider the city to be part of the South. The longer I stay in this godforsaken place the better I understand why real Southerners share the sentiment.

Last week I couldn”€™t take a single step without hearing a television pundit cry about rampant racism in North Carolina. One would almost assume the Black Panthers and Aryan Brotherhood were fighting in the streets immediately outside the UNC campus. Turns out the only thing that happened is that businessman Todd Chriscoe didn”€™t let a black guy eat at his sports bar, a phenomenon I refer to as “€œprivate property, get over it.”€

The guy who was kicked out of the bar is Jonathan Wall, a 21-year-old student with plans to attend graduate school next fall at Harvard University, the esteemed institution that hosts an “€œUnderstanding Obama“€ reading group. Among Wall’s other accomplishments is a stint at the NAACP‘s Atlanta branch.

“€œOur problem today is that people are beginning to think of businesses as public goods. Any action opposing this collectivist illusion is ultimately followed with lawsuits.”€

Wall insisted after sparking the initial stir, “€œI”€™m not trying to cause trouble….But I can”€™t just sit back.”€ He continued not trying to cause trouble by giving numerous interviews to popular news outlets and plastering his story all over the Internet. Then came a press conference followed with other people claiming to have been kicked out of the bar for racial reasons. One man described his experience as “€œnot physical,”€ but he somehow knew the owner was racist due to “€œthe way they treated me.”€ Another man spoke out about how the establishment treats blacks like “€œsecond-hand patrons”€ even though “€œit’s subtle.”€

If I were to hear these nonspecific explanations alone, I”€™d say the discomfort they felt had more to do with race-centric paranoia than anything else, but the evidence piling up suggests that the bar owner really doesn”€™t like black people. Local news station WRAL did one of their hyperbolic investigations eleven years ago at another one of his businesses which frequently turned away black couples and allowed white ones to enter.

Let’s assume that Chriscoe openly discriminates on a racial basis.

Who cares?

Raleigh’s residents seem perplexed about how someone can voluntarily discriminate and still maintain a successful business.

If Wall’s account is true, Chriscoe does sound like a jackass. Wall says that he was forced into a headlock as he waited for friends so they could leave together, which would be a ridiculous way for a bar owner to act (with or without racist intentions). Then again, these stories are verified by the Internet only, and it will be interesting to see whether Chriscoe releases security footage from the night in question.

Yet why is no one critiquing comments made by Wall’s supporters? A quick peek at Wall’s Facebook page and you”€™ll see a smug commenter who wrote, “€œ[It’s] good I wasn”€™t with you that night or I would”€™ve gotten locked up for showing them the nigga they wanted to see….”€ Wall joyously “€œliked“€ the comment.


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