Tea’d-up outrage

 A woman who writes a monthly fluff’n'stuff column for The Denver Post’s Lifestyle section, Kristen Browning-Blas, delivered herself this week of a Meaningful Protest Against Racism.

To set the stage she now sees herself taking, she invokes not only Gandhi and Rev. King, but Rep. John Lewis, who was beaten by Alabama state troopers as he and others marched in Selma in 1965. “They knew they might be hurt, yet they stepped on past the fear.”

On Inauguration Day, she tells us, she dropped by the cafe/bar of her gym to get some soup.

One of the employees was checking the tea and noted out loud that they were out of black tea. To the other server, she made a joke about ordering some more “Obama tea.”

On this day, of all days, I could not turn away, pretend I didn’t hear.

My pulse raced a little. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. In the larger scheme of things, calling her on it was a small act.

You could say that, yes.

So she “did the uncomfortable thing” and spoke to the club manager. He asked what she wanted him to do, and she “suggested racial sensitivity training at the very least.”

As if that would help with the problem, if there were a problem, which there wasn’t.

Look, there are times when people should mark even casual comments as distasteful. If the server had said something about “(N-word) tea,” I too would think it worth complaining about, and I hope I would. The thing is, the opportunity doesn’t arise that often. The only time in the last 50 years I, personally, have heard a white person use the N-word, it was the trainer at a court-mandated “racial sensitivity training” session our employer required everyone to attend. She intended, presumably, to instruct the audience in how to do all the things they should not do, and which they were already not doing.

Obama tea? That’s like suing Southwest Airlines for “Eeeny meeny miny mo.”

As it happens, Browning-Blas’s 13-year-old son understands the lesson she taught him better than she does. At school the same day, he told her, one of his classmates in geography class said, as Obama placed his hand on the Bible to take the oath of office, “It’s still not too late to shoot him.” Her son told his classmate to be quiet, as well he should. Butterflies and racing pulses, if any, not reported.

James Taranto, at the Wall St. Journal, has a great send-up of this pretentious delivery.

He concludes:

We shall overcome–but we haven’t yet. Racism in America is far from dead. It turns out there is even a Web site called Obama-Tea.com, featuring a caricature of President Obama in which his face appears to be made of herbs and fruit.

Let us all follow Kristen Browning-Blas’s example and take a stand against injustice. If not us, who? If not now, when? If not honey, lemon?

About linsee

Linda Seebach retired in 2007 from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, where she was an editorial writer and columnist.
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