I grew up in a place that screamed loud and proud about diversity. Eugene, Oregon, The supposed Mecca for hippies and free thinkers, liberal community minded folks. And, if I am to be fair, I would have to say that most of them truly had these beliefs at heart. Problem was, some of those beliefs never had to be put into practice, the theories were never truly tested. Meaning, for many people, that really is all that they were, theories.
The smarter of this bunch, when the failing was exposed, used it as a learning experience, an embarassment to grow from. Others, unfortunately, either doubled down on their true, less than liberal views, or simply, out of embarassment, slid toward the middle, sulkily and quietly. Never getting over the exposure of their bigotry. The embarrassment of being caught with your tolerance down … Some of these may even eventually polarize this embarassment into the Anti Intellectual bent we see as of late…
Eerily reminiscent of other Fascist regimes, that annialated their educated classes, in an effort to control the masses….. Yeah…….. China, North Korea? Hmmm…
This incident involved one of those smarter, ‘I will learn to be better’ types. Still, it happened, and still makes me sad… Mainly, because this guy was a friend, someone I thought was a real road dawg… Sure, honestly, I had doubts about his street cred in the past, a little too much talk, but haven’t we all had that, at least once, with a thousand people you have met?
… Still.. to see it entirely unmasked, in someone your group of friends trusted, someone with whom you have shared both confidences and crimes, ya know, Metaphorically speaking of course, someone who might even know where the bodies are buried… a knower of secrets…
To, after years of trust, to hear the vile racism, to hear, to see, to feel that spur of the moment, ‘I am being surprised by something foreign, something out of my boogey man box confronts me’, truth serum take effect, and say ‘Nigger’ in a malevolent way.
In a way that couldnt possibly be the first time. The word, said with such authority that it couldnt possibly be foreign to those lips. Word rolled off his tongue fully formed, inflections RIGHT where they belonged, like it had been waiting to be released from it’s bonds of nicety.
But let’s get to the story.
I was working in the bars at this time, would have been 1990, I was about to turn 22.. I was head of security for a pretty popular Nightclub and Lounge at the time, in Eugene/Springfield, Oregon. Though Oregon is miles and miles away from any sort of ethnic diversity, and was even worse then,
This nightclub, in particular, was fairly diverse in it’s clientele. It was an Asian owned establishment, for one thing. It was also attached to a hotel, giving it a traveler clientele, as well as the locals. And, given that it was attached to a hotel, it made it a pretty popular with the younger, harder partying crowd.
It had a more, ethnically diverse, college aged crowd. So, maybe fifty percent other than white, for the make up of the crowd. I had a pretty good rapport with the clientele, white, black and otherwise. Always being invited to the after party, the barbeques, etc. We were pretty tight, acually and this was one of those nights, when an after party was ready to go, thay just hadn’t decided on a destination.
This was a three to four night a week occurrance, to be fair, we really were burning it al all ends back then. Close the bar, party til dawn, sleep til 5, go to work at the bar, do it again. This particular night, however, was a pretty special one.
My best buddy from High School had come in for his birthday…… The night had been fun, not too eventful, except for something about a cardigan being knocked off of some ones chair… that cardigan, belonged to my buddy, Lets call him Tiny.
So My buddy Tiny, probably my closest friend, was hanging out on his birthday, at a bar I was working at, but one he had never been to before… This was going to be fun. He is a nice guy, and a BIG guy, and he hit it off right away with some of the more edgy folks in the club. Including a number folks of an African American and Hispanic persuasion, who had taken to the big funny white guy that was friends with their buddy the bouncer…
The point is, My buddy, pretty drunk from his birthday, decided to invite the after party back to his place. Now, I tried to warn him this would be a large crew, maybe a dozen cars might end up descending on is little condo, but he was determined. He had only recently moved into the place, he reasoned, it neded to be broken in with a good party, and it was his birthday!
So, after closing up the bar, I headed out to the parking lot, where, as I predicted, a caravan of at least a dozen vehicles, was queued up, wating for us to lead the way across town to Tiny’s place. We loaded up, and eaded out. Ten minutes later we have pulled onto Tiny’s street, and I am out helping folks get parked, and showing them which house to head to.
Keep in mind, it is 3am, the rest of the neighborhood, in this case a couple rows of condos, are all sleeping, or at least quiet. So if you have ever been there at the beginning of an after party, the raucous scene that parking a bunch of drunks wanting to get drunker can be, you know. it is a handful, believe me. It’s almost as bad as getting drunken strippers to get dressed and go home at closing time.
Anyhow, while I was herding the guests in, and trying to keep them quiet so as to keep the cops being called before the party even started. Tiny had gone in, to cleanup a little…and to inform his blissfully sleeping roomate, that a party was about to spring up, spontaneously, in his front room.
Yeah, the roommate… oops, kinda forgot to call ahead. To be fair, this was before the time of cell phones, at least before everyone had one, so he has a bit more of an excuse for not calling ahead, beyond the fact he was piss drunk. Now his roomate, groggy and not too happy to be hosting a party, reluctantly consents, especially after being told that there were a number of girls coming over, which was entirely true.. there were, this had the makings of a most excellent after party, I assure you..
.. But then, subconscious racism had to go and ruin it…
Now his roommate, let’s call him, ‘Dummy'(and use your best Fred Sanford/Redd Foxx impression when you do it), having gotten into his robe, starts down the stairs… Now, I can see the astonishment in his eyes… and in retrospect, it was his fear really, because, he gets to the bottom of the stairs, corners Tiny in the kitchen, and starts quietly chewing him out, ya know, that clenched teeth stuff yer mom used to do to to you at church.
He is railing at Tiny about the hour, the number of people, the noise, then, “How the fuck you gonna bring the whole fucking Zulu Nation up in MY house!!” Comes out of his mouth while gesturing toward the bar area in the front room, where most of the crowd was congregating.
Again he growled, that enraged growl, through clenched teeth, and from livid eyes and expression, he said, “And Who the FUCK is that NIGGER over their lippin’ my Fuckin’ Scotch?!?”, just as a dear, and old friend of mine(to this day) Named Froggy, was indeed tipping his scotch, bottle to lips, right at the bar..
Luckily, the music was on already, so none of the gueasts, heard him. Given that African Americans made up about 60-70% of the crowd, probably a good thing. Two people though, had heard him.
Two people he had known all of his life, that had instantly lost most of their respect for him, in the time it took to utter one sentence, to take one tone, to make one evil face while uttering filth…. a lifetime of trust and respect flew out the window, dissipated off into the ether.
I mean, never in my life did I expect to hear that, out of this New Wave/Punk Rock kid turned middle manager…
You have to understand, growing up, Oregon was 98% white, no kidding. By the time of this incident, it had dropped to 92%… That seems like a jump, ya know, 6 %, say over 20 years. But think about that. 98%, down to 92%. That means, out of 100 people, 98 were white, now it is 92. What you may be missing, is that the 2%, then 8%, are ALL minorities combined. All minorities combined went from 2% to 8%! All minorities, all of the Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Native American, and all the mixtures there of, was only 8 %(it is 18% now, 82% white). That, is the epitome of homogenous.
Still, you always heard people talk a good game. This was a place full of hippies, bikers, anarchists, ranchers, survivalist. Rugged individalists, and live and let live types. Every talked about diversity, how they were more liberal, more accepting of people that wanted to be different. Problem was, with 92-98% White folks, what kind of diversity do you actually see?
What you see, is counter culture white people. White people with dreadlocks. Tie Dyed shirts and Birkenstocks. You see bikers, and survivalists, and religious communes, but they are all White people. White Rebels, if you will.
Diversity, to the Oregon mind, is letting white people do whatever they want to do. It isn’t said that way, or even meant that way, but that is the reality. They say People are People, but, when all the People are white, than the non-white, are not of the people, are Non-People. Well,
Tiny was having none of it. While I was scanning the room to see if any of the guests had heard this little tantrum, Tiny grabbed ‘Dummy’, and forcing him back up the stairs(Tiny is huge, ‘Dummy’, not so much),
Tiny howls at him” THIS IS MY HOUSE TOO!! I’LL HAVE ANYBODY OVER THAT I WANT!!” While continuing to shove the disheveled, robed, flustered and now frightened, ‘Dummy’ up the stairs to his room, like an unruly teenager, or a cranky toddler.
It would have been hilarious, if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted to make sure ‘Dummy’s’ words didn’t get repeated, or re-uttered, lest the house get torn apart, and in my eyes , with complete justification….
It was, however, my buddy’s house too, his stuff was here too, and would get trashed right along with ‘Dummy’s’ shit, if the crowd were to hear him spouting off like that again, Hell, if someone were just to tell them it had been said by him. Ya gotta remember, this was a diverse, party crew… and yes, a few of my friends might have been prone to violence and or mischief when intoxicated… and this was an after hours party, so the crew, as a whole, was pretty lit….. It wouldn’t take much to set it off.
So we had to move the party along, without it looking like a kickout… cuz a kick out might, or might not be enough to fire them up, having just got there. Either way, it would generate the why’s, the why, after we came all this way, do we gotta go?, kind of questions. God forbid, if what he had said slipped during that portion of the scenario.. well, again, property damage would ensue.
So we sell the idea that the roomate needs to sleep, so he won’t be joining us, we can stay, but no music.. then rolled into the , “We oughta just bounce out, and go elsewhere” routine. Which, luckily, worked. Nobody wanted to stay and party at a place where there’s no music.
Now this whole time, Tiny is upstairs, just reading Dummy the riot act. Just about the time I am getting the last couple of guests to head out the door to their cars, Tiny got down the stairs. He was still livid, and rightly so…. I look at him and ask, ” so… ya comin’ with us? Or are you gonna stay here and beat D to death?”
“Fuck him, though I should”, as he grabs his jacket and heads for the door. “I aint staying here tonight, fuck that, it’s my birthday!!” We head out the door, and Tiny slams it so hard you can hear shit falling off the walls. We get about 10 steps and I stop him, asking for his keys for a second., He says why?
I say “Trust me”
He hands me the keys, and I pop back into the house and head straight for the bar. I retrieve a bottle, the aforementioned expensive aged Scotch, and head back out.
I get our the door, and yell out for my buddy Froggy, just as I catch up to Tiny . ”Hey Froggy, come here man”
Froggy jogs over, ” Yeah man? What you need?”
I hand him the bottle of Scotch and say, “Here man, figured you should take this bro..”
He looks at me puzzled, and says “Why?’ I say, “Why not?, fuck that dude, take it man.”
He looks at me, says, “12 year old scotch? fuck yeah I’ll take it, thanks bro!” and damn near skips back to the car he was riding in.
“Don’t mention it man”, then under my breath, more for Tiny’s ears, “You earned it pal.” And I head for my car..
Tiny stops me, and says, “Woah… dude, that was expensive scotch, 12 year old, Scotch… Ya sure?”
I look at Tiny, then back at his place, then back at him, and reply….. ”Dummy may get mad…. but losing a bottle of 12 year old scotch is better than having to have the doctor remove that same bottle from his rectum!”
Tiny looked at me, laughed, and said,”Point taken… let’s go.”