Bo Bice, Popeye’s chicken and a lesson in racism

January 5, 2017

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Bo Bice likes his chicken without the side of racism, thanks.

The former “American Idol” runner-up and Alabama resident resurfaced this week in one of the oddest ways: claiming on Facebook that he was discriminated against while ordering chicken at a Popeye’s restaurant in the Atlanta airport.

I know, I know. You’re thinking there’s no way this is true. That we finally got 2016 to mercifully come to an end and then 2017 goes and starts with Bo freakin’ Bice and Popeye’s chicken.

Well, it happened. And there’s still an orange infant with tiny hands practicing his Russian and waiting on Inauguration day.

Anyway, Bice was at the Popeye’s in the Atlanta airport, which I have to imagine is the one restaurant at which everyone seated around Bice in the plane would prefer he not eat, when the ugly face of racism reared its head.

First, Shawana (that’s the name Bice gave in his Facebook post), the Popeye’s front counter worker, made fun of his name, calling him “Bo-Bo,” “Bow-Bow,” and “Boo-Boo.”

Then, after the other Popeye’s workers mistakenly thought that Bice hadn’t yet received his order, Shawana corrected her co-workers by saying “that white boy there” already had his order.

That’s when things got really racist and … oops, no, wait. That was it.

End of racist experience for the white guy at Popeye’s.

Bice posted about his experience on Twitter and Facebook, and when it finally took off, he began doing media interviews with anyone who would stick a hot microphone in his face.

Because, really, he was the victim of discrimination, y’all. They called him “white boy”!

Now, look, it’s wrong if the Popeye’s employees actually did make Bice feel disrespected or if they failed to provide him service or courtesy because of his race.

It’s wrong and they should face appropriate punishment. Although, they already work at Popeye’s in the Atlanta airport, so I’m not sure what more can be done.

That said, before Fox News starts planning the march, maybe we should recognize the valuable lesson in empathy that might be gleaned from this latest installment of White People Scream Racism.

Consider the facts of this incident: a guy was called “white boy” and someone made fun of his name. Combine those facts with the other, recent, high-profile incidents: that lady who freaked over a $1 bag in the Chicago Michael’s; the dude who went bat-guano nuts because he had to wait too long at Starbucks; the old lady in Target who ran through the Book of Racism to complain about Hispanic women allegedly breaking in line in front of her.

These are the egregious acts of racism that confront the average white person. Well, those and of course being unable to use the N-word even though black rappers use it all the time.

At the same time, these people – and the people who agree with their outbursts and silly arguments – are mostly the same people who, at best, turn a blind eye to complaints about police brutality and an unfair justice system that robs black citizens of their entire lives. And at worst, these are the people who tell minorities to “stop arguing” with cops, to “do what they’re told,” and who place the blame for a man shot and killed while sitting unarmed in his car on that man.

These are also the same people who complain loudly that America is “racially divided.”

That claim is certainly true. But the reason for that is not because white people just can’t get a fair shake or because President Obama refuses to back the police or because black citizens want special treatment or a handout.

It’s because too many white people can’t recognize the hypocrisy of demanding justice for bad service at an airport chicken joint while dismissing the data that shows minorities receiving a consistently poor public education, being incarcerated at alarmingly high rates and routinely experiencing life-altering discrimination.

To the latter, a whole bunch of people will shrug and tell you life isn’t fair sometimes. That’s true. But the field on which some people are playing is so unfairly slanted that they’re literally falling off.

So, no, Bo Bice should not have been disrespected because of his skin color. That’s always wrong.

But until we learn to recognize and speak out against similar – or worse – injustices perpetuated against those with different skin color or nationality or religion, none of this will get in any better.

Until the other person’s rights become as important to you as your rights, we’ll remain divided by racism and bigotry.

 

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