Discrimination vs. Free Enterprise?

•May 9, 2009 • 11 Comments

A fb post regarding a friend’s recent experience at a local restaurant has me interested in the general public’s thoughts on this topic.  The quick summary: 6 African American women are having a business meeting and dining at an upper scale establishment in Atlanta.  One of the co-owners asks the DJ to ask the ladies to take their meeting elsewhere stating that they didn’t want their establishment to become a “black spot”.  DJ, Ladies, & community offended.  Full text of the post is below.

As an entertainment option for social venues, my band and I have had the opportunity to have a lot of discussion with bar/restaurant owners about the challenges of maintaining a diverse audience in Atlanta and the tendency for patrons to slide to the extreme one way or another.  It seems that particularly w/African American patrons, there is a percentage threshold that if exceeded, becomes a deterrent to white patrons and overall diversity.

So in a city where the racial divide still presents comfort challenges for blacks & whites trying to share public venues socially I ask the questions:

1) Assuming the owner’s is being honest about their concern, should this be classed as discrimination and if so what should be done about it, if anything?

2) Is there anything wrong with trying to execute on your own vision of a social/dining establishment even if that vision includes a particular racial mix?  (Again, assuming the establishment was aiming for diversity not complete exclusion)

3) What will it take (aside from time) for Atlanta to become more socially integrated & diverse?  The recent closing of one of the top mid-size live music venues in Atlanta (Sugarhill) is just one sign that we have work to do.  Sugarhill was/is located in Underground Atlanta, a locale that should be a killer opportunity for a booming nightlife scene for tourists.   It’s not and many believe its inability to maintain a diverse (racially & otherwise) patron base is a part of the problem.

What are your thoughts?

P.S. Any site with my name on it places honesty and the ability to accept differing opinions above all else.  Pls speak freely and be respectful of others.

Original FB post:

Ladies and gentlemen, the following ‘paraphrased’ conversation took place between a friend of mine and the Co-owner of a restaurant called xxxx.

*Law and Order music*

The setting: XXX Restaurant – Downtown Atlanta

The Players: DJ, 6 African American Ladies women ranging from 28-33, and Co-owner of xxxx restaurant. The women are there for a meeting, drinks and dinner.

Ladies: “Let’s go ahead and grab a bite to eat since we’re already here for the meeting.”
DJ: “Yeah, the food is pretty good.”
Ladies: *Looking through menu, talking…*
*time lapse*

Co-owner: Hey [DJ] would you ask those girls to take their meeting somewhere else.
DJ: Why? They’re just having a meeting.
Owner: Well, you know, we don’t want ‘that type’ of crowd.
DJ: What type of crowd?
Owner: You know, THAT – type of crowd.
DJ: What do you mean by ‘that’ type of crowd?
Owner: I’m just saying I don’t want this restaurant to be like – a ‘black spot’ yanno?
*blank stare*
DJ: Packs up equipment, leaves.

Annnndddd scene.

*outro – Law and Order music*

Now – I have nothing personally against this restaurant. The food and vibe was actually pretty good the three times I went.

The problem? The owner made this comment about a group of people who were patronizing his establishment. Spending their money in his business. The women were not loud, drunk, or belligerent. However he wanted them out because he didn’t want his restaurant to be a ‘black spot’.

As for me, I will not patronize this restaurant and I hope you’ll follow suit and tell all your friends who are ‘that type’ that xxx doesn’t want to be a ‘black spot.’

The owner maintains that he was misunderstood. I think he meant to say – he wants a diverse crowd in his restaurant, but it came out way, way wrong.

You can find out what he meant by his comments by emailing him here and simply asking him any questions you have…(removed reference to establishment) . Please be polite and respectful in your correnspondence. ‘Our type’ of people know how to do that yanno?

Also, let him know that we’ll make sure ‘xxxx’ doesn’t become a ‘black spot’.

Oh and don’t just stop here. Update your Facebook statuses, MySpace and Twitter accounts to let your friends know that if they’re, you know, ‘our type’ that they’re not particularly welcome in xxxx.


Going ‘Off’ on Anti-Obama Noise

•March 15, 2009 • 2 Comments

I’m a new blogger so this might be a violation of official blogging rules, but I’m going to post a summary of and link to someone else’s blog I read this morning along with my overly emotional response and call it my 2nd blog.  Is that allowed?  I really want us to talk openly about what’s going on here with the new Prez before it starts to spiral out of control.  Appreciative of all comments, good and bad.

Mister James

Original Blog Summary

“How Barack Obama Makes Me Feel

I am an Obot!!!!1111!!!
Okay, not really. My real secret is:
Barack Obama bores me.

Do I still think he’s a misogynist, homophobic authoritarian who will go down in history as being as bad as, or worse than, Bush? Absolutely. He doesn’t have the temperament, the will or the strength to be President. He was never ready to answer that red phone at 3 am.” Please read the rest of this post on its original site here.

Although I know of course that there are many anti-Obama voices out there, this particular post struck me strangely and deeply and I admittedly lost it.  The comment I posted in reply is below.  Pray for my growth in both temperament and brevity! 🙂

My Comment in Response (pending approval on original site)

This is amazing to me. Mind boggling and baffling even!

That you on the one hand sound like a reasonably intelligent person, not unfamiliar with politics, and you class yourself as an optimist and idealist an then on the other make these kind of unfounded and immature statements is saddening indeed. It is not leadership that is to blame for our predicament, rather it is a fickle population that doesn’t have the courage to look past their personal biases and make fair assessments of reality that hold us back. Indeed, leadership’s one critical task is to be able to rally America to stand together in allegiance for more than the duration of a reality tv episode.

Are you aware that as the celebrated ‘human’ species, we can reach our greatest goals by heading down ANY of the infinite paths that lay before us? That if our intentions and commitments to each other are sound, sincere, and of moral substance it doesn’t matter who is in office and what the economy is like?

I’m not thrilled about all of the decisions President Obama has made either but i stop short of jumping on the ‘he’s a failure’ bandwagon because the world’s problems (or ours) haven’t been fixed in less than 60 days in office. How dare he not be able to deal with…how did you describe it? “…the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression” in his first month of office! Off with his head!

Dealing with opposing ideas in a society of multiple viewpoints that often conflict is about compromise. About knowing when and how to do so in a manner that results in forward movement. Although the President may not be doing a perfect job at this, what he has done and is attempting is a far cry from what we’ve had in the past and much more representative of the values we ‘claim’ to hold dear as a people than anyone (leader) most of us can remember.

Its unfortunate that your interests haven’t been met in his ‘long term’ as President. Mine haven’t either. But as someone who truly believes in equality and the idea of one nation, I’m willing to wait for mine to be addressed in an order that makes sense for us all. All while continuing to ensure that my perspective on the issues is heard and included as an ingredient in the recipe of America’s future.

Are you interested in the facts surrounding the personal records of the majority of cabinet selections made by all Presidents in the past 100yrs? Probably not. Never in history have appointments come under such scrutiny and as a result, individuals who would have passed with flying colors in the past are being called out. Now I want competence and morality in office as much as the next guy, but I wonder if you are waiting for the perfect human being who has never made a mistake or oversight? Newsflash: They don’t exist! Thankfully ‘real people’ do exist. People who would serve us well and are highly qualified in their field but have the unacceptable characteristic of being human. Some would say that it is this humanity that has had them err in the past that gives them qualification to lead with the fairest and most understanding mind. I’ll do my best to overlook some of your wild statements here should you run for office in the future.

Stole the nomination from Hilary? Huh? More time partying & vacationing? Really? Incidentally, when trying to fend off selfish, doomsday voices like yours, any competent leader will recognize the most important task at hand is to communicate with the populous. Which is why speeches are made. You don’t have to listen to them but there are millions in this country that need their new President to keep them abreast of what is happening and provide some kind of response to the insane amount of rhetoric flying around the airwaves. Rhetoric that is divisive and anti-forward movement.

I don’t know why I feel like I want to address every one of your comments as its probably pointless, but I can’t let the ‘Extremist’ comment stand any longer.  These labels that you and others like to throw around like Extremist, Terrorist, Socialist, Communist, Activist, Racist, Anti-American, Liberal, Conservative, etc. are at the heart of our single biggest challenge as a species. The undermining of communication, our greatest asset as human beings. At its root, the use of these labels are a coward’s means of avoiding the need to actually understand an opposing view because in one ‘foul’ motion you can simply attach all manner of negative characteristics to a person or group whether they deserve them or not. “Whew! Thank god we called him an extremist! Thought I was actually going to have to think about his opinion for a second!” Is it safe to assume that you’ve had intimate conversation about the issues with every member of the Taliban yourself? Have you even met one?

If you have learned anything in your life you should have learned that for the most part, human beings are the same wherever you go with the exact same primary motivations. The EXACT same primary motivations. A person may have what’s considered an extreme opinion on one particular topic (or a group of topics) based on their perspective, experience, or calling but that doesn’t relegate them to hopeless blindness in the face of other concepts.

You’ll find that in addition, humans around the world tend to share more easily, ‘hear’ other perspectives more easily, and consider other options when they are not staring down the barrel of U.S. made weapon. It’s a little difficult to think straight when you’re defending your life and liberty. This is true whether their perception of a threat to themselves is valid or not. The people who call themselves The Taliban (or Al Quaeda, the IRA, or the KKK to name a few others) are no different in this regard and might be willing to reconsider their extreme positions if their enemies showed even the smallest sign of giving a damn about their concerns. Which is why intelligent humans talk to one another before throwing stones (and bombs) from across the street like children.

I’m going to apologize now because this comment is filled with unnecessary sarcasm, emotion, and anger, none of which is any better than what you have done with this tirade. But I guess I’m human too and can’t bear to watch another opportunity for this country to live up to its legacy and potential get wasted because of ignorance with a megaphone.

You’re entitled to your opinions like everyone else. I just hoped that we’d be in an age where at least most Americans would form opinions based on something other than emotion and personal preference.

When we succeed in the end, it will be because we grew up and recognized that any leadership needs a population that is willing to walk the walk, deal with hard decisions and stick to the values they claim to believe in while giving their leadership a fair shot and (at) making progress. Something you decided you weren’t going to do before The President was even elected.

If you want President Obama to be a bad President, you’ll get your wish as such is the power of human will. Thankfully however, that will only be in your own closed mind.

(I’ll calm down shortly and would be happy to share with you in a more respectable manner in the future should you be interested in a mutual exercise of sharing and learning.)

From The Desk of Mister James…”Hello World!”

•February 23, 2009 • 2 Comments

The WordPress default ‘Hello World’ is not a bad way to start your first blog right?  I thought you’d think so too.

What’s good world?!…Mister James inviting you to tag along for an exciting (and potentially dangerous) journey through the mind of a very disturbed individual.  🙂  Who knows where we’ll go from one day to the next…or even how often we’ll go.  Just know that it’ll likely be fun, worth reflecting on, or in some other way a good use of ur leisure time.  Promise!

Hmmm…I did notice that in that last line I spelled the word ‘your’ in the abbreviated way I spell it when texting, tweeting, or using some other character restricted tool.  I went back to fix it then decided to leave it as is and use it as my first topic!

Topic 1: Letting The English Language Evolve?

So we know that language and our ability to use it for communication is one of the most important little tricks we have in our humanly bag right?  Right.  Goes without saying its a big part of what distinguishes us from other animals and allows us to do some of the amazing things we do.  I recall a discussion a few years back about how slang develops and the related debate about how sacredly language should be treated…or not.  Stuffy Yorkshire linguists insist that improper use of the English language is a travesty of the greatest measure while others believe language is a living and dynamic tool that should be allowed to transform and map itself to our needs, moods, cultures, and eras just as we ourselves do.  (any guesses as to where I sit on that debate? 😉 )

Well now that we have these everyday reasons where we have to abbreviate words couldn’t we just go ahead and re-write the language to accommodate them officially?  I mean what would be so wrong if we all spelled ‘your’ like ‘ur’ from now on and relegated its predecessor to the history books and only the most formal of writings?  Will something bad happen to us?  Will we be less smart, less interesting, or lose our ability to say some of the things we can say now?  Please becomes pls, thanks finally gets a well deserved rest and can turn the reins over to his protege thx, later can become l8r and not feel insecure or discriminated against because it now has a number in it, and so on and so on.  Think of the paper we’d save!  400 page novels get reduced to 200 pages perhaps as words are just shorter.  Newspapers, magazines, manuals, all kinds of publications get shortened.  How many trees would we save?  Although data bandwidth doesn’t seem to be in short supply today, shortening words means fewer characters to electronically transmit via the internet and other transmission mediums freeing up space for more stuff.  Okay, maybe that’s a stretch.  It seems we’ll ALWAYS find a way to use up all available space and need more, but you get my point.

So why not?  Is it kind of happening on its own anyway?  Think about the current generation of kids and the likelihood that they abbreviate more than they don’t.   Should we be stopping this trend or making a concerted effort to maintain strict linguistic practices?  I’ll do some googling for existing discussions on the topic but am definitely interested in your opinion.

Till next time!

Mister James

p.s. here’s one article already!