(The Root) — Something occult was taking place at the Home for Retired Racial Stereotypes. Smoky incense filled the air of a darkened room where Kingfish, the Frito Bandito, Charlie Chan, Tonto and the rest of the crew were gathered in a circle, chanting to the sound of exotic music. In the middle of the circle stood Buckwheat, dressed in a turban and long robes covered with strange symbols, waving a wand over what looked like a glowing crystal ball.
"What are you stereotypes doing in here?" I demanded. "Holding a séance?"
"Oh, there you is, White," Buckwheat squeaked in reply. "This here ain't no regular séance. We is using the Wayback Machine."
"The Wayback Machine!" I exclaimed. "Isn't that the magical device that allows you to go back in the past and see how history might have played out if you make little changes?"
"That's the one," Buckwheat squeaked. "We using it to look back in time to see what would have happened to Clarence Thomas if there had never been no affirmative action!"
"You mean Clarence Thomas, the only black justice of the U.S. Supreme Court?" I inquired.
"Precisely," squeaked Buckwheat. "He done grew up poor down in Georgia, but he got to college and Yale Law School because of affirmative action. Now he on the Supreme Court issuing opinions (pdf) saying that affirmative action is unconstitutional and holds black folks back instead of helping them!"
"Well, what would have happened to him?" I asked.
"Gaze into the Wayback Machine and see for yourself," Buckwheat commanded, flourishing the wand over the glowing orb.
As I looked into the sphere, an oddly familiar image of a silver-haired white woman began to form.
"Buckwheat," I gasped, "That's Paula Deen!"
"Yes, it is!" Buckwheat squeaked, continuing to wave his wand over the light-filled orb. "She giving a lecture on Southern cuisine and explaining how she don't have a prejudiced bone in her body at an event sponsored by the New York Times."
"But that really happened," I declared. "Getting rid of affirmative action doesn't seem to have changed anything."
"Keep watching and listening," Buckwheat admonished.
As I stared in fascination, the celebrity chef began talking about race relations. "I have a young man in my life, and he's black as that board," Deen explained, gesturing toward a dark-colored backdrop. "I'd trust him with my life! He's just like part of my family! He's standing right over there!"
"C'mon up here, Clarence, and take a bow," she continued. "We can't see you against that dark board."
A mist began to form inside the orb, obscuring the image of a grinning, broad-shouldered black man bounding onto the stage as the audience applauded.
"Stop it, I can't take anymore," I shouted, as the images faded.
"Then I guess we better not show you what would have happened if he'd had the chance to rule on segregation and slavery," squeaked Buckwheat, breaking the spell by putting down his wand and removing his turban. "Believe me, you don't want to know!"
Jack White, a former columnist for Time magazine, is a freelance writer in Richmond, Va., and a contributing editor at The Root.
is a former columnist for TIME magazine and a regular contributor to The Root.