Normally, I’m not one to praise Black people for remaining calm and peaceful in the face of aggressive white racism—because I don’t believe we should have to. Why the hell do I have to take the proverbial high road when there’s a belligerent melanin-not in my face calling me a nigger, and God gave me hands, feet and cans of Twisted Tea to use for this very occasion?
It especially irks me when a video goes viral showing a Black person keep a cool head during a confrontation with an angry racist and the comment threads fill to the brim with well-meaning white people praising the Black person for their resolve and thanking MLK Jesus for giving said Black person the strength to turn the other cheek. (I actually do want Black people to turn the other cheek...by putting their fists to one side of a white supremacist’s face.)
That being said, I’m going to go ahead and big-up this Black Ross employee whose zen held so strong while she was being threatened and called a “Black bitch” by a KK-Karen customer that said KKKustomer grew even more enraged after she was unable to provoke even a hint of returned animosity from said employee.
The video begins with an angry white woman—who everyone keeps telling me is not Princess Fiona from Shrek in mid-morph ogre form, but I’m pretty sure they’re wrong—calling the Black woman Ross manager a “no good motherfucking bitch.”
The manager calmly replied, “please leave,” to which discount Peg Bundy angrily responded “Oh I’m leaving. You’re going to be leaving soon too, I promise you that!”
I’m not sure what Tony Soprano’s sister’s stunt double meant when she told the Black woman, “You’re going to be leaving soon too.” Either she was threatening to have the manager fired for not giving into whatever Karen-y demands she made that went unsatisfied, or she was trying to call the manager out on some “cash me outside, how about dah” shit. (I mean, we can all agree that this woman is a broke-ass version of what Bhad Bhabie is going to be like when she gets old.)
Anyway, as the Black woman continued to be unbothered, Yosemite Samantha got even more steamed while ranting about being called racist—just before telling the manager, “Fuck you, you fucking Black bitch!”
Honestly, you can tell all-grown-up Peppermint Patty went full Eric Cartman in a last-ditch effort to get the Black woman to match her rage because she realized how much face she was losing by flying off the white supremacist handle while the Black woman continues to respond with “yeah, I just don’t really give a fuck what you crying ‘bout” energy. In fact, it got even worse when the Black woman responded to being called out of her name by calmly telling Great Value Roseanne that her use of a racial slur “doesn’t bother me.”
Queen of the Hill was so big mad as she walked out of the store that she turned around and said to the Black woman—who is still maintaining unbothered poise to rival Gayle King in her interview with R Kelly— “Go sit on your porch like a fucking monkey, you whore.”
So, here’s the thing:
My first job was at Publix. The managers were mostly white as were the rudest and the most hostile of the customers. We were constantly told that the best way to respond to angry and rude shoppers is to continue to be polite. We were literally told that being calm and proving to be the better person was the best way to clap back. I always thought, “fuck all that!”
First of all, those managers never really took into account that Black employees didn’t only deal with rudeness and that we often had to take a side of racial slur with our daily dose of Karen entitlement.
One day, I was bagging groceries when a white woman got upset that items rang up at a higher price than the price she thought she aw listed on the shelf. The cashier, who was white, called our one Black manager, a woman, to deal with the aggravated customer who only grew more irate after the manager told her she was mistaken and that the items rang up at the price that was listed.
After the manager left, the white woman said to her husband, with me clearly standing within earshot, “That’s very typical of that race.”
What the fuck did she even mean? What is typical of “that race”? Did telling white people the prices of things become a negative Black stereotype and nobody told me?
I remember how pissed I was and, even now, when I look back to that moment I wish I had gone all the way off on the woman. Instead, my 16 or 17-year-old self played it off like I didn’t hear the remark. I had the white managers in my head telling me to maintain politeness. If I had said what I wanted to say I would have been out of a job.
I say all of that to say that if a Black person is staying calm while a white person is choosing violence, it’s often not because we’re just naturally benevolent—it’s because we have to stay calm to stay employed and to stay safe. Black rage is perceived as dangerous while white rage is just white people being white people.
I praise the Ross Manager because, for the first time, I saw calmness actually work as a clap back. But she shouldn’t have had to remain calm. If she would have knocked KK-Karen the fuck out, that response would have been equally appropriate—but white commenters wouldn’t have praised her as much.