‘Post-Racial’ Racism, Explained

This is how we got to a place where Joe’s Crab Shack thinks it’s cool to use an image of a black man’s lynching as part of its decor.  

This photo featuring a lynching of a black man was embedded into the decorative table at a Joe’s Crab Shack in Roseville, Minn. 
This photo featuring a lynching of a black man was embedded into the decorative table at a Joe’s Crab Shack in Roseville, Minn.  WCCO screenshot

What is Joe’s Crab Shack?

Joe’s Crab Shack was, until Wednesday, the place you took a date if she was in the mood for chain store crabmeat but thought Red Lobster was too bougie. Since Wednesday, however, I’m sure it’ll be the preferred space for Donald Trump rally after-parties.

Why? What happened Wednesday?

While dining there Wednesday night, Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen noticed that one of the pictures on their table depicted a 19th-century lynching of a black man.

Wait … what??? A lynching?

Yes. A lynching.

Wow. What was Joe’s rationale? How could they possibly think that would be a good thing?

Maybe they thought the celebrated public executions of black people would help move more Garlic Jumbo Bairdi Crab Buckets? Does it even matter what their rationale was? What could they possibly say that would make anyone think, “Well, I don’t agree. But I guess I see their point”?

How do you feel about this?

I’m kinda sad that Joe’s Crab Shack has been added to the list of “Places My Black Ass Just Can’t Support Anymore” (PMBAJCSA for short) because the Arctic Bay Steampot was fire. But even more than that, I’m annoyed.

Annoyed? Because of the racism?

Kinda, sorta. Whenever some egregiously and unambiguously racist s–t like this happens—a lynching photo at a family restaurant, a death threat to a black politician from a white supremacist group, a Good Morning America segment on a family parrot trained to say “pickaninny,” etc.—it serves as fuel for racism deniers.

How so?

They use them as examples of “real racism” to either excuse away or just outright deny devious and subversive subtle racism.

“See,” they’ll say, “gentrification has no racial connection whatsoever. It’s more of a class issue than anything. What happened at Joe’s Crab Shack, on the other hand, is real racism.”

Basically, unless the word “n–ger” is etched on someone’s front lawn, constructed with a thousand miniature swastikas, it’s not racist.

Why is that?

In post-racial 21st-century America, no one actually wants to admit to being racist. They’ll do racist things, say racist words, think racist thoughts, support racist business, vote for racist politicians and even willingly benefit from racist policies and business practices, but the moment you actually bring up racism, they’re like, “Who, me? Never! I can’t be racist. Andre Iguodala is my favorite athlete, and my best friend almost had a black girlfriend in 2004!” And they do this because owning up to it and letting everyone know exactly who they are could be social suicide.

Basically, being a racist in 2016 is like being a Kanye West fan.

So post-racial racism is just regular racism disguised in Banana Republic chinos and Planet Fitness memberships?