Stomping on Eggshells

Stomping on Eggshells By Hatfield Nuff with editorial contribution from Kevin Jackson

Several years ago, I represented a client who was being sued for employment discrimination. The former employee—a black man—in front of the clientele loudly and vulgarly had voiced his dismay over not getting a promotion he felt he deserved. Though warned to return to his work station, he continued with his tirade, cursing his manager and accusing him of being racist.

The employee was terminated for his behavior. He decided to sue his former employer, alleging racial discrimination.

As trial neared, I found myself debating the relative merits of the case with his attorney, who also happened to be black. I contended that the jury would certainly understand the firing of an employee who mouthed off to his boss in front of customers.

“You didn’t just go there,” came the disapproving voice on the other end of the phone. “What?” I inquired quite innocently.  It was then that I learned that the term “mouthing off” carried with it racial baggage – akin, apparently, to “being uppity.”

“Uppity” I get.  I’ve heard it used before – most notably by Democrat Senator LBJ in grudgingly giving black people a little something

“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.” — LBJ

However, “mouthing off” has no racial implications, at least not for me.  Granted, it’s most often used in reference to children.  Then again, I believe it was an appropriate description of what the guy had done, as he had certainly acted childish. Only an ignoramus or mass murderers throw tirades in front of clients versus having a meaningful and productive discussion with the boss.

The chastising I took from the black attorney got me thinking about how I and other non-blacks find ourselves frequently tiptoeing delicately through verbal exchanges for fear of committing the unspeakable crime of unwittingly saying something with {shhh} “racial overtones.”

Is there anything in life worse than being perceived as a racist?  Surely there is; however the mantle of racism is coiffure nobody wishes to wear.  And one can never underestimate the power of perception: You don’t actually have to be a racist to be labeled and treated as one.

Not that I need to sport my resume of being a non-racist—the sure-fire way to earn the label—but I was raised in a household where FDR, JFK and MLK were all revered, my parent mistakenly lumping MLK, Jr in with the Democrats.  In my formative years, the Civil Rights movement was in full swing, and I was thoroughly aware of the insidious nature of prejudice and discrimination. “Judge a man by the content of his character, not the color of his skin,” was instilled in me by parents who were painstakingly politically correct and continue to be.

As with most of non-black Conservative America, it truly galls me to be labeled a racist at the mere use of a phrase.  Actually “gall” is not a powerful enough, so let’s try was pissed! There was nothing wrong with what I’d said. There was no malice or ill-will in my statement. No intent to denigrate the man because of his skin color. I offered an honest – though blunt – appraisal of his behavior, yet the penalty flag was thrown.

In hindsight, I’ve often wondered if that exchange wasn’t all part of a head game on the part of that other attorney.  A legal-psychological maneuver designed to throw me off my game, exploit my white guilt, and make me question just how well my defense would hold up.  If the Plaintiff hadn’t been black, the case would have had zero value.  Because he was black, there was a supposed legitimate concern the jury might excuse his undeniably rude and childish behavior and perhaps even reward him for it instead.

The truth is that Liberal blacks in America often DO act like babies, and often are indulged as such.  Imagine raising a child and always giving them their way; always giving them a pass for bad behavior.  What kind of child would you end up with?  A spoiled rotten brat, which is  present-day Liberal America.

Racism is now overused to the point of complete ridiculousness.  Disagree with something a black Liberal leader says? Racist! Don’t want the same things a black Liberal leader says black people want?  Racist!  Point out a double standard that doesn’t excuse blacks’ behavior?  Racist!

The American president is black, and still that’s not enough. What will be enough? Does every white person in America have to vote for Obama and take a lie-detector test to prove it, in order to put a stake in the heart of the racism meme? I suspect that even if it were verified that ALL whites voted for Obama, black Liberals would still be crying racism, and they would have a cadre of guilty whites singing kumbaya right with them.

When Obama was elected, I had this naïve thought that we might finally put racism behind us.  Instead black Liberals seem to have doubled-down.  They seem to want black lawlessness overlooked, like voter intimidation, theft of public funds, and many other crimes.  Attorney General Eric Holder has “his people,” and the rest of America must find justice somewhere else.

It’s like black Liberals now seem even more inclined to showcase their formerly dormant (or at least private) racism.  Almost any criticism of the current administration is skeptically scrutinized and scanned for even the faintest whiff of racism, in an effort to circle the wagons and protect the new sheriff of Rock Ridge.  Political hot-topics are now viewed through the race lens first and foremost, policy merits be damned.  Rather than taking a step forward, we’ve taken a giant leap backwards when it comes to race.

I remember when Ross Perot made a comment to a black reporter, and said, “You people.” Perot was referring to Liberals, but the media made it a racial issue.  More recently, Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” became a “dastardly” example of racism according to Jimmy Carter, and torturously twisted by Maureen Dowd into “You lie, boy!” Who are the real racists here?

Why can’t I mention Obama in the presence of a black friend without suddenly fearing I’m about to step on a verbal landmine? When do we learn to just let our PC guards down and talk to one another as people, not categories? I say the time is now.

My ringtone was Lynrd Skynrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,”a classic rock anthem. It also holds an added charm for me as my grandfather hailed from Alabama, and my father was born there. Someone asked me if I worried I might offend someone with it?

I’m no longer walking on eggshells, I’m stomping on them.

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