The Bo Who Cried Racism
Bo himself was the first to admit his own shame at having to “look like a petty little brat by tweeting and Facebooking this just to open up dialogue so we can have an adult conversation” about the perceived racism, but he used a television interview to continue talking about the “problem with race relation going on in our society.”
According to Bo, the problem here is that he was called a “white boy” and treated differently because of it. Now, both Popeyes initial lack of action and the story’s lack of gravitas has provoked him to claim that whites are crucified for making one negative comment about non-whites, but when it’s the other way around, no one cares. Mind you, he was born in Alabama in the 1970s.
“If the tables had been turned and I had used something… and been as insensitive as to say something like that, you’re talking about I would be boycotted, there would be people not buying my albums, there would be people coming and picketing at my shows, and everything else.”
But his biggest message was this: “I don’t care if you’re Bo Bice, Bo Jackson, or Bo Diddley, when you’re walking through that airport, you should be treated the same, and when you’re giving your money to an establishment, you should be treated the same as anybody.”
So why did Bo cry in the interview? As it turns out, Fox might have doctored it.
Especially amidst the rising tide of the anti-PC, anti-safe space culture, it’s strange to see someone crying over having their feelings hurt. But as it turns out, the crying had come from a different part of the interview, unrelated to the Popeyes fracas. Bice explained, “I began to cry and got emotional because I told a story of buying a Build-a-Bear for a young girl for Christmas this year in Birmingham who was black.”
But Bice would later cry tears of joy after Popeyes responded with a statement from Mack II Inc., the company that owns the Atlanta Airport chain. “Mack II Inc. is very sorry that the incident occurred and for any pain or embarrassment that Mr. Bice experienced. The company does not condone the behavior of one of our associates and we took corrective action as soon as we were made aware of the incident. Also, we will require re-training of our associates to ensure this isolated incident does not occur again. In addition, Mr. Bice has been issued an apology by the General Manager. We value all of our customers regardless of race, religion, age, disability, gender, etc.”
Bice reminded fans and critics alike, however, that he personally requested for the original employee not to be fired, merely reprimanded for the affront. Benevolent Bo Bice, he’s finger-lickin’ good.
The Real Issue
So was this really an issue about racism? Was it about class and money (as he continually stressed the importance of being a paying customer)? Or was this about something else entirely?
By definition, the Popeyes worker did refer to Bo’s skin color, which technically makes the ordeal about race, albeit not “racist” in the common way you or I think about the word. While it’s something we’d do better not to focus on, sometimes referring to strangers in a group as “black,” “white,” “Asian,” or any other similar qualifier is just the easiest way to identify someone. Bo repeats that he didn’t deserve this treatment as a paying customer, but would that make it okay for workers to harass non-customers? It’s doubtful Bo feels this way, which makes me think this has to do with a different negative feeling.
At the end of the day, Bo felt emasculated. While we use the terms “boy” or “girl” to refer even to adults way beyond their childhood (but before reaching the mysterious phase of full-on “adulthood”), there is a sexist notion to referring, especially to the opposite sex, as a boy or girl in a patronizing way. The words also take on a pejorative nature across races, especially in a white-on-black exchange.
When the employee made fun of his name, which we see from his Idol audition as being nothing new, and then proceeded to refer to him as “that white boy,” the most likely result is that Bo, whether as a white male, a paying customer, or a rock star in his own right, felt belittled, humiliated, and emasculated. And while conservatives and liberals alike are loath to race-bait, that appears to be what happened next.
At the end of the day, no: An employee of any establishment should not mock out a customer, plain and simple. Contacting the company was certainly appropriate, and posting our woes online is in our 21st-century genes. Still, we have to remember that some people just suck without having some larger agenda. If we’d all grow slightly thicker skin, we’d all live much happier lives.
So does Bo Bice really walk the walk? These revealing tweets tell all. Keep reading!