This week, a serious case of color sensitivity creates shockwaves at a Cajan-area, high-end grocery store coffee spot, and a cast of stone cold sho-nuffers coalesces swiftly on the scene. (Note: To fully appreciate this week's comic, you may want to refresh your memory of an old classic.)
What’s going on out here, Chad? I haven’t heard you steam any milk in almost half an hour!
No customers, boss.
Well, that’s odd. There are hordes of shoppers milling around just outside the seating area, fingering the loaves of olive bread and endless varieties of Gouda cheese.
... Some even holding empty coffee mugs, and yet averting their eyes from the coffee shop, itself.
It’s like they’re afraid to approach the counter or something.
It could be her.
The lady sitting there, reading.
Lady? I don’t see anyone—
Sitting eight feet away, directly in front of us.
Chad, I’m sorry. I’m afraid I don’t see—
Right there, boss. Reading the Pauline Hopkins novel … the only customer in the entire coffee shop.
Chad, you’re going to have to be more specifi—
Boss: Your current Racial Threat Advisory level is Red right now. I’m going to need you to drop it down to Yellow.
Oh! Her! I didn’t even see—
Exactly … In such a homogeneously white consumer venue such as Trader Moe’s, seeing a black customer can seem right-out threatening.
Many shoppers don’t know how to reconcile their lives of relative privilege and extravagant tastes with the pervasive absence of consumers of color in their favorite shopping locales.
You’re right, Chad. And to compound matters, several of these folks equate buying fair trade coffee and bottles of Ethos water with doing charity work. Because they’re too afraid to enter the coffee shop and buy these goods now, their consciences must be killing them!
Oh, but look, boss. A brave soul!
… Feeling her way around the newspaper rack and two-top tables using a mop handle from our seafood department as a rudimentary walking stick.
Coffee … Dark roast … Need ... Butter Pecan scone …
Coming right up, ma’am!
Your total’s $8.65. How would you like to pay?
Plastic … Pick one … Please, take them all … Just need soul-warming, conscience-soothing, fair-trade …
Organic Guatemalan java, ma’am! And your pastry.
Nom nom nom … Thank you! Thank you, gentlemen.
Just be careful feeling your way back out without your walking stick! The coffee is extremely—
Clean up in the coffee shop ... Bring a mop head and the paramedics.
Alright, fellas. Everybody grab one.
Or not, in Larry’s case
Aren’t these costumes a little … culturally insensitive?
That’s the beauty of the French Quarter! It’s an ethnic melting pot … You get to be whomever you want!
… Hi, fellas. Let’s go shag dancing at the country club before the Jimmy Buffett concert after the Klan rally.
Yo, homies. Less hoop it up at the blacktop ‘fore we go buss a cap in some fools at the liquor sto’ after we bow down to our effigy of Tupac Shakur.
Hola, amigos. Let’s spend all day nailing up roofing shingles at a leisurely pace and take a two-and-a-half-hour ciesta at the taco stand because el jefe’s paying us $3 an hour and can’t afford to fire us.
But what’s the use of racial permeability and intermingling if it’s just used as a platform to reinforce cultural stereotypes?
Is dis nigga drankin yet? Somebody get dis nigga a drank.
What did you just call me, Jared?
Myeeeaaah … According to my calculations, myeeaah, a purveyor of alcoholic beverages is approximately 0.2 nautical miles, seven degrees north-northwest of our current quadrant.
... Are you really buying into this nonsense, Larry?
Si, señor, los zapatos me pican mucho.
What am I thinking? Of course you are.
Hey, y’all. There go King Zulu on his float! Less go join his krewe!
Fellas? Hey, wait up!
Jared?! Charley?! Larry?!
Whoooooose names do you speak???
My friends, they slipped away from me—
Hiiisssssss!!! Members of the carnival krewes adopt new names! Your friends as you knew them are no more!
Would you like to join us???
OK, OK! Jeepers creeps!
Now, unnamed one … Follow me!
By the way, can you play the keyboard?
Back at Trader Moe's ...
Um, are you guys going to do anything about the crowd chanting right outside the coffee shop?
What do we want? COFFEE!!! When do we want it? NOW!!! Are we afraid to go inside and get it ourselves because of the guilty self-consciousness the sight a black customer would cause? YES!!!
Yes, ma’am. We’ll handle it. I apologize for the annoyance.
Here, have a refill on the house.
What are we going to do, boss?
The only thing we can do, Chad: Activate the pump on the pressurized espresso machine!
You don’t mean—
I’m afraid I do, Chad. Hosing down the hordes of guilt-stricken coffee seekers outside the shop with scalding, foamy cappuccino spray is the only way to prevent this consumer insurrection from spilling over into the rest of the supermarket!
The pump is primed, boss. The pressure gauge says it’s ready.
You may want to avert your eyes, Chad … This could get ugly.
Hold that trigger! This situation can be resolved without violence!
Who are you?
The Step ‘n’ Fetch musical theatre company!
We handle sticky racial situations such as these.
Just sit back and listen … HIT IT!
Bmmp tic tic ksss
Dun-nu-nu-nu-nu-nu … Dun Dun
It’s Just Mascara!
We were once two troubled people from different hubs / Your names were Billy; we got beat with Billy clubs
You were just a little lighter, but like a magic wand / You hit the tanning bed and beaches and came out bronze
Remember when you had a rattail—
wouldn’t quite braid /
You even tried the “box” before that look got played
Voted for Barack Obama to adopt Change /
Oh, you’re a socialist now? No more stock exchange
Heard you might have lost your home,
can’t foot the bill, eh? /
Wanna sub Cheesecake Fac. now for Chick-fil-a
It's Just Mascara!
It seems I’ve gained a new companion; you’re a changed man /
Codependence and no spending is the game plan
Used to talk of gentrification; you’d say it’s all good /
Now you’re renting right next to me up in the hood
… Congratulations that the stimulus passed / Before you’re back to hording wealth, remember our past
We lived in worlds apart, you probably don’t remember /
You used to fear your sister, so you stood between us
And I can see us after school, we attacked /
Throwing rocks at each other across the railroad tracks
It's Just Mascara!
[Now the whole thing’s changed; that’s called a hate crime / A big offense; you get pinched, and you’re doing the time]
[You know in your heart that I’m the same ol’ person that / You see buying groceries, only my skin is black]
[So don’t even trip; the truth is staring at you / You’re trying hard to close your mind, but it’s just Mascara.]
... Wow! You’re so right! We are all essentially the same … Skin color is just that: skin deep!
Yes! Thank you for helping us remember this fact!
That’s what we do! Come on everyone! Get your coffee while it’s hot!
Hmm, someone left behind a card …
Thanks again, sir! Who knew simply identifying with black people instead of immediately labeling them as “Other” would soothe my white guilt so much!
I may even be able to patch things up with my black girlfriend now! ... Well, so long!
No prob. You just might want to wash that burnt cork off your face before you go outsi—
Whistle whistle wh-whistle
… Uh, sir?
Whistle wh-whistle whistle
Ah, someone will tell him, I’m sure.
On a streetcar ...
Where to, sir?
The Lower Ninth Ward, and step on it!
Well, what’s the hold up, my good man? It's Just Mascara!! ... Let's go, at once!
Uh … As you wish, sir.
Next week: More rantings, ravings, and racio-comic theory!!