Sunday, November 30, 2014

Taken to the cleaners in #Ferguson 

Tabitha Southey has a brilliant column in the Globe and Mail  Hey, white person, imagine if you were stopped as though you were black :
...Let’s imagine, for example, you’re being stopped and questioned by dry cleaners, and see how that goes.
Dry cleaners approach you often. You get to know the drill. “It’s linen, dry cleaner,” you say politely, as your mother taught you to do. “Natural fibres do wrinkle; it’ll relax in the heat. You don’t need to press this. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a meeting.”
It starts to get to you after a while, white people – a short while, I imagine, knowing you as I do. “No, I don’t need to come in,” you snap one day, upon your third grilling that month. “It’s hand wash, dry flat. I read the label, I know what I’m doing here, I got this one.”
Yet, still they stop and ask, “Do you starch that collar?” or demand to see your dry-cleaning ticket.” They check your pockets and when you complain about it, people tell you that’s their job.
Now, suppose on top of everything else, when you do go to the dry cleaners, when they’re needed, their response time is terrible. There’s no same-day service for you, white people, even when you’ve a wedding to go to and you ask the local dry cleaner nicely. It’s like you don’t pay the same dollar as everyone else for the service.
Imagine you’re told that things will get better, yet still those dry cleaners remark on your pleats as you walk down the street, as if just being on the street were an issue. Maybe white people, while being grilled, you see black people walking by – the status of the lining of their smart fall coats unchallenged.
I know you would get angry, white people.
...and maybe black people would then say, “If you weren’t out on the dirty streets, you wouldn’t need a dry cleaner, but there you are, making trouble.”
Some white guys would tip a Volvo during one of these protests, as if their team lost the Cup.
Perhaps that car lit on fire would be virtually all that got reported. A car burning in the street unattended for three hours sparks more network hand-wringing than a black boy’s body left for four.
“Look at all that grey smoke,” non-white pundits would say, gravely. “The dry-cleaning bill is going to be huge.”
UPDATE: The outrage in the Comments is telling, isn't it.

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