Heard on The Judges: old-school, *real* "reverse racism"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 23 18:44:42 UTC 2008

Or, perhaps, "inverse racism" may be the better term.

A forty-ish, black, mechanic-defendant describes how he came to be
involved with the forty-ish, car-owner, black plaintiff:

"I told him that the engine which he had supplied had some serious
problems that were going to be difficult to deal with, but he wasn't
hearing that. He says to me, 'If *you* can't do it, I'll get _the
white man_ to do it!'"

That is, the customer indicated a belief that the real problem was
that the mechanic, being black, simply lacked the competence to handle
the job, whereas a white mechanic, being competent by definition,
could easily deal with the problem.

Interestingly enough, it was the mechanic that looked and sounded like
an urban, Northern, middle-class, college graduate, whereas it was the
customer that looked and sounded like some FOB (Fresh-Off [the
Greyhound]-Bus) hick from the Southern sticks.

Back in the day, belief in inherent black incompetence as opposed to
inherent white competence was just about as strong among blacks as it
was among whites. How else to explain Farrakhan's Observation? The
now-infamous Minister Louis Farrakhan made the observation, back in
the 'Sixties, when he was still basically nobody and not yet a
world-renowned anti-Semite, that "Wherever, *on this earth*, there is
a plurality[sic] of races, the *black* race is *always* on the

Around 1955, friend of mine, after detailing the problems that he had
had trying to rent a tux from the only such black-owned service in
Saint Louis, when he could easily have gone to a white-owned service,
instead, exclaimed, "That's what I get for dealing with the *black*
Strangely, this exclamation led to the use of "black man" as the
standard greeting among members of our clique: "Black man! What's
happ'nin'?" "Aw, black man, ain't nothin' to it."


All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
 -Sam'l Clemens

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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