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?

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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?

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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.

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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”?

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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?

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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.

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“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?

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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?

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Yup. It’s LivingSocial racism. Bikram-yoga racism. Mee-goreng-with-shrimp racism. It’s an evolved form of racism that allows people to exist ensconced within racism’s confines while never having to complete a registration form, and it appears in many ways, including (but not limited to) the following:

1. “Racism doesn’t really exist” racism;

2. “You’re the real racist for thinking and talking about racism” racism;

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3. “I don’t have a racist bone in my body” racism;

4. “It’s a class thing, not a race thing” racism;

5. “If black people want to get over racism, they need to stop segregating themselves” racism;

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6. “I know what’s good for you better than you do” racism;

7. “I hate the NBA” racism;

8. “I’m not a racist; I’m a realist” racism;

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9. “Look how cool and witty and ironic I am when I do this remarkably offensive thing” racism;

10. “Can you provide some evidence that the racist thing that happened was actually racist and not just happenstance?” racism;

11. “Let’s talk about diversity and have panels about diversity and invite the media to these panels about diversity but never actually make a real effort to be more diverse” racism;

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12. “I know what happened was racist, but my feelings were hurt when you pointed it out, and we need to talk about my feelings instead of the racist thing now” racism; and

13. “I don’t think anyone is paying attention, so let me sneak this really racist thing in real quick, like a cheat day for my no-racism diet” racism.

Sometimes it manifests as a politician attempting to pass a voter-ID law that’ll have an intentional disproportionate effect on black people. Sometimes it’s an otherwise-cool co-worker whitesplaining racial profiling. And sometimes it’s a Donald Trump bumper sticker. On Ben Carson’s forehead. Either way, post-racial racists need outwardly and overtly racist stuff to happen occasionally so that they can dismiss it as an anomaly or point to it as an example of “real” racism. It’s their white whale.

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In fact, I can see the lynching photo being a rare example of both—the “real” racism and the post-racial-hipster racism. The real racism is obvious, but I can totally imagine that picture ending up there because some post-racial racist thought it would be edgy and dark and subversive and satiric.

Hmm. So basically, post-racial racism is just … racism?

Yeah. I guess so. 

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Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com.