Like I just did!
Since journalists are charged with being the skeptical gate keepers in our collective pursuit of the truth, when I first read the Naperville, Illinois, Buffalo Wild Wings news story, I thought it was a hoax perpetrated by a group attempting to secure a large settlement.
Before you hit the “send” button, please allow me to explain!
Considering the recent raft of breathing while black revelations, I cannot imagine a Caucasian who hasn’t taken note of the dire consequences befalling the bigot when those stories go viral. C’mon! White people have dialed 911 or complained to management about blacks for:
- Barbecuing in a park
- Babysitting white children
- Accidentally brushing a woman in the subway with a backpack
- Going to a public pool
- Sitting a seat away while flying
- Napping in a dorm lounge
- Leaving an Airbnb with their luggage
- Taking a college tour
- Sitting in a Starbucks
And each one of those prejudicial perps either lost their job or suffered severely in the court of public opinion. So, you’d think my Caucasian compatriots would get some sort of clue and finally realize no good can come from that kind of blatant and shameless intolerance.
I apologize for having far too much faith in my race.
Second, if it happened at the Geneva, Illinois, Buffalo Wild Wings, it would’ve been far more believable. Given its 1 percent black population, I lovingly refer to my hometown as “The City of Whites.”
But to be fair, aside from your garden variety anonymous racist literature, Genevans have acquitted themselves quite well in this regard. I’m not sure if it’s wisdom or dumb luck, but I’ll take it either way.
Conversely, 18 percent of Naperville’s 150,000 residents are African American, and if one in five of your neighbors are black, they’re certainly not a rarity. Furthermore, given its size and relatively young average age of 39, I’ve always viewed our neighbor to the southeast as quite the cosmopolitan municipality.
Lastly, how did this blatant bigotry travel like a rogue electrical current go from a customer, to a host, to a series of restaurant managers unchecked? I understand this is the era of Trump but am I really that out of line to be flabbergasted that there wasn’t even one adult in that Buffalo Wild Wings room? Really? There wasn’t a single savvy soul who said, “Hey guys! Keep it up and this ain’t gonna end well for us?”
Let’s start with the racist customer who asked the host to move that group of 15 because he didn’t like black people. Who says that out loud in 2019? He should’ve simply asked the host to move him with no explanation necessary. Instead, this man felt comfortable enough to say exactly what was on his mind, and he firmly felt he had the right to ask the other group to move.
That’s some sort of entitlement mentality.
And if the story wasn’t bizarre enough already, the host himself was black – another reason I questioned the veracity of this sad scenario. We have to imagine he did his damndest to warn his supervisors they were heading down a very dangerous road.
But they clearly didn’t heed that admonition because after one manager tried to get the group to move, another went over and tried to tell them their tables were reserved after they correctly wouldn’t budge. I’ve only dined at Buffalo Wild Wings once in my life, and even I know they don’t take reservations.
After one or two more attempts to force the party to relocate, they finally gave up and left the restaurant altogether. But wouldn’t you think those managers would’ve finally found religion when the black host broke down and cried and some of the white customers came up and hugged the group as they were leaving?
But no! They were all fired, a number of employees quit in despair, and the customer who started the racist ball rolling has been banned from Buffalo Wild Wings for life. Of course, the corporate talking heads offered all the right platitudes, but only time will tell if they’re sincere about making the obviously necessary changes.
To his credit, Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico personally reached out to the aggrieved party goers lamenting that, “It’s shocking that this type of behavior exists today. This was an incident that is not who we are as a community.”
But even though I’m not questioning the Mayor’s sincerity, I’m not so sure about the latter part of his statement. Naperville has been beset by racial incidents in recent years, including an essay by former resident Brian Cook on what it was like to grow up black in that predominantly white community.
That all culminated in Naperville State Rep Anne Stava-Murray claiming, “Our city’s history of white supremacist policies is ongoing,” in a January Facebook post that ignited a firestorm in which she was rebuked by the Mayor. Outspoken City Councilman Kevin Coyne repeatedly demanded her resignation, too.
Ironically, other than saying this was “an isolated incident,” Councilman Coyne has been conspicuously silent on this one.
And while I certainly wouldn’t label every Napervillian as racist, and I think Ms. Stava-Murray’s “white supremacist” choice of words was a poor one, that doesn’t mean her underlying contention wasn’t correct.
Because while the previously cited breathing while black viral incidents were generally precipitated by a lone white racist, the management staff that incited this particular “event” was so at ease with their level of bigotry that didn’t question their actions for a scant nanosecond.
And if a commercial enterprise is that comfortable with that absurd level of intolerance, it is, indeed, an indictment of the city in which it’s located.
So, I apologize for not believing the victims who had to endure what amounts to being kicked out of a restaurant for being black. The abundantly apparent lesson here is, never underestimate the insidiousness and perniciousness of American racism. I won’t do it again!
And if Ms. Stava-Murray is right, and, at this point, there’s no longer any doubt, given the audaciousness of this kind of racism, Naperville really needs to take a long, hard look in that bathroom mirror and decide who they want to be and how they want to be perceived.
Contrary to conservatives’ consistent claim that electing a black president summarily ended racism in American, this incredible Naperville incident clearly indicates we’ve got a very long way to go!