Retail Racial Flare-Ups Again, Never Let Them Be Common
The editorial pages of The Oklahoma Eagle has lately served as a weekly reminder that naked racism is rearing its head in places unaccustomed to such outbursts of hatred. One might think, isn’t it enough to have talked about it last week? Is it too much, too depressing to remind the readers that racism is still alive and thriving lately? The answer is a resounding “no.” Every harsh word, every killing and every attempt to minimize people of color must be answered with light and justice.
In 2016 an African woman and her children were on a United Airlines flight and was kicked off the plane after a fellow passenger reported the family had a “pungent” odor. The offense has spurred a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the giant airline this week. A so far unnamed White male passenger made the complaint after sitting in her assigned seat. He refused to get up and the attendants asked Queen Obioma, a Nigerian citizen to sit in another part of the plane. Before takeoff, Obioma used the restroom and was on her way back to her seat she was confronted by the same White male who stood in the aisle blocking her from returning to her seat. After repeated requests to get by she finally managed to get to her seat. After that, an attendant asked Obioma to step outside the plane where she was told she was being removed from the plane. The pilot made the request because the White male made the complaint. The attendants then went on the plane and removed her children. Obioma said the experience was humiliating and brought her to tears. Obioma had to wait five hours for another flight and she missed an important appointment with a Canadian school. United has had other problems that demonstrated a lack of sensitivity in dealing with people of color. Last year David Dao was famously beaten and dragged from a flight that was caught on camera. The airline fired the security detail and came to a financial arrangement with Dao. Another passenger had to hold her 2-year old son on her lap after United sold the child’s seat. She held her son for 3 hours. In March of this year a passenger was forced to put her 10 month old puppy in the overhead compartment. The puppy suffocated to death. The airline seems to lack a sense of decency and restraint.
For whatever reason store managers and staff are now calling police on black customers because they are in the store. Starbucks, Hibbett Sports and other stores have started to call the police for the crime of shopping while black. Which is so horrible of course and is humiliating for anyone who dared to walk in a store to shop. In Tacoma Washington, two Black women walked into a Fuego store on a not so typical Monday. The store manager saw the two women trying on clothes and went to the fitting room and shouted out the racial profiling policy to the women in the dressing room. She actually read out loud the stores procedures for theft. Asking for an explanation from the store manager she ordered the women out of the store. She called security then launched into a debate on the women’s education saying they didn’t understand the difference between aggressive and being uncooperative. The combative white manager said “uncooperative” was an educated word. The company has since apologized for the incident and terminated the employment of the manager who called security.
A black Yale student had the police called on her for sleeping in the common area of her dorm. The black student, Lolade Siyonbola, posted two videos of the encounter on Facebook, where they have been widely viewed by an outraged public. Yale officials are saying the police acted properly after they demanded Siyonbola to produce her student ID.
Waffle House is a popular hangout for anyone after a late evening. However, it is fast becoming a site for violent confrontations with police for Black patrons. Three weeks ago Alabama police arrested a black patron so violently her breasts were exposed. Police and Waffle House said the actions of the police were proper and no action was taken. That explanation has not set well with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund who say the company needs to review its policy in dealing with unhappy customers. This past weekend in Warsaw, North Carolina at a Waffle House a black man became angry over poor service and the police were called and they arrested Anthony Wall by choking him into submission. In this case the FBI and the State Bureau of Investigation are investigating the incident. But, all is not bad in Trump’s America.
Grilling while black is apparently an action so audacious that a white woman called the police for two couple’s cooking some food on a public grill in Oakland, California. Another kick in the gut for the community just trying to have a good time. This time the community did not wait on a proper municipal response. The NAACP was not called in and no one asked the police if harassing black people for grilling some food on a public grill was prudent. No, this time the community decided it was time to answer the incident with an action no one anticipated. They had a mass grilling at the same location and they ate and had a good time. Perhaps it’s time to answer hate with light and love in the darkest corners of our nation.
High Profile Tulsa Shooters Still Making News
The Tulsa black community has not been spared the grief of police shootings. Former Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby was found not guilty of the shooting of Terrance Crutcher by a largely White jury and is now carrying a gun and patrolling the streets of Claremore as a reserve officer. Claremore has less than one percent black population, but a disproportionate number of African Americans fill their Rogers County jails.
Another high profile murder occurred in 2017 when Robert Bates a reserve county officer shot and killed Eric Harris. He was found guilty of manslaughter and served 16 months of a four year sentence. Released early he remains on parole. The millionaire was spotted drinking wine at a Tulsa restaurant. A clear violation of his probation. Officials are looking into the incident and all indications are very little will be done. Possibly he could be made to perform some community service. Many have seen people of color receive far harsher consequences for less. Hopefully the fair dispensing of justice will be meted out fairly for all citizens without regard for their race or the size of their wallet.