Transcript, Web links and Credits below.
Did you see the video from the restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina where a racist white woman named Nancy Goodman walks right up to two young black customers and calls them “stupid n—?”
The next day, when she was confronted about it by the local media, she not only refused to apologize, but said she’d say it again and was glad she said it the first time.
Today, I’m not so much going to examine this incident, but I’m going to push back on one popular response that I’ve seen not just to Nancy Goodman, but to Trump and the rise of public bigotry and racism in the United States.
The response is this — and maybe you’ve said it before yourself — it’s some version of this, “At least now we know where they stand.”
I know what you mean when you say this, but let me teach us something about the nature of racism today.
Let’s dig in.
This is Shaun King and you are listening to (The Breakdown)!
Earlier this week, at The Bonefish Grill, which is likely a slightly nicer version of Red Lobster, earlier this week at the Bonefish Grill in Raleigh, North Carolina — two young Black women were there having a nice meal together, when an older white woman who was also a customer, decided that she didn’t like the fact that the Black women were speaking loud enough to each other for her to hear them. This isn’t new. Anything above a whisper from Black folk seems to bring out the bigotry in white folk all over the country. They can stand eating in the same establishment with you — as long as you stay quiet and get of their way. These two Black women decided to actually speak loud enough so they could hear each other, and Nancy Goodman was just distraught. So much so that she reported it to the managers — who did nothing because Black people are actually allowed to speak above a whisper in 2019. So, Nancy Goodman took matters into her own hands and decided to confront the two Black women face to face.
Let me play the clip. (AUDIO)
Yeah. Nancy Goodman walked right up to these two Black women and called them stupid n— right to their faces.
Then, the next day, when confronted about it by local reporters, Nancy did something that we haven’t really seen in recent history. When confronted about calling two black women “stupid n—” Nancy Goodman told a local reporter that not only was she not ashamed and wouldn’t apologize, but that she was glad she said it and meant it.
Let me play that audio for you. (AUDIO).
Now that’s new. And when I say it’s new, I mean, typically – when confronted face to face with their own open racism and explicit bigotry in 2019, most white folk will relent and apologize. But not Nancy Goodman. She’s sticking with it.
And of course she is. Her own President — just a few miles away, right there in North Carolina — held a Klan rally just last week where his supporters openly chanted, “Send her back! Send her back!” when talking about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. He basked in the glory of it all for a full 13 seconds. So of course Nancy Goodman thinks she can be open and flagrant and confrontational with her bigotry. The President of the United States is, so why not her?
But for just a few moments today, I want to push back on one particular response that I see. I think it’s well meaning. I even understand it. Sometimes, I even kind of agree with it, but today I wanna push back on it and tell us why it’s problematic.
Every time Trump says something racist, every time we have another Nancy Goodman moment — where somebody is just openly, brazenly racist – I see some version of this response from thousands of people – including well-known people.
The response goes something like, “At least now we know how they feel. I’d rather them be open with it than hide it and keep it to themselves.”
Have you seen or heard that response? I see it every day.
And listen — I understand the notion that we would rather know that somebody is a racist than not know, assume they aren’t, and behind the scenes they actually are. But that oversimplifies and misunderstands the very nature of racism itself.
Let me break it down. (BREAK IT DOWN MUSIC)
Racism is a virus. It spreads. It grows. And what we are experiencing right now in the United States is not just an explosion of hate crimes, where real people are being assaulted and maimed and harassed and killed, we’re also experiencing the most widespread normalization of racism and bigotry in this country in generations. And the two are deeply connected.
When racism and bigotry — and misogyny and sexism and xenophobia and Islamophobia,— when hate is normalized in this country, it doesn’t simply stop with you now being informed of who’s racist and who isn’t. It spreads. It has victims.
When white supremacists marched on Charlottesville, openly saying that they were there in great part to represent Trump, they killed people, they ruined people’s lives. And maybe you’re forgetting, but we’ve had a horrible surge in violent attacks from white supremacists all over this country. And trust me — the people and families of these victims would much rather those bigots have kept their bigotry to themselves.
See, when it’s publicly acceptable for you to walk right up to two Black women and call them “stupid n—” in the middle of an upscale restaurant – and then stand right by it — it doesn’t stop there. And trust me, those two women who were on the other end of that, they aren’t grateful for that moment. It’s horrible.
Donald Trump didn’t do Congresswoman Ilhan Omar a favor when his followers chanted “Send her back!” That makes her less safe — it makes all Muslims, and all refugees, and all immigrants less safe. He didn’t do Congresswomen Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley any favors when he tweeted that they needed to go back to their own country. It not only put a target on their back, it lowered the bar for what everyday people then feel like they can say to all people of color.
Yeah — it’d be great if we could just somehow know who’s racist and who isn’t, but that’s not how it works. – it’s not a good thing when people feel so safe, so comfortable, and so protected in their bigotry that they can do whatever they want with it. It’s dangerous.
So yeah, it’s a bit of an unintended benefit that when Nancy Goodman calls some Black women n— that we now all get to know that Nancy Goodman is a bigot, but I’d rather Nancy keep all of that shit to herself, eat her meal, and understand that she can’t speak to people in this way.
I’d rather politicians not lead their followers in racist chants or write racist tweets. And I say this as someone who needs security to get around this country safely. I say this as someone who has helped put violent bigots behind bars.
It’s not a good thing that bigotry is spreading and growing — because its normalization leads down a dark, slippery slope. The normalization of open bigotry is what has caused the Trump Administration to issue a Muslim ban. It’s what has caused the Trump administration to separate refugee children from their parents — then deport the parents and keep the kids and send them off to foster homes just to be cruel.
Open bigotry might make you a little more informed, but it does a lot more than just that. The bigotry itself is harmful, but the harm it inspires is costing people their lives. So let me close with this thought.
Anytime bigotry is normalized, it puts real people in danger. Anytime we grow more and more comfortable with their open bigotry, it puts real people in danger. So no, it’s not better that we all know where Trump stands – we already knew where he stood when he called for the Central Park Five to be executed or when he was sued by the government for housing discrimination in 1973. We already knew he was a bigot. When leaders begin expressing open bigotry the way he’s doing now, it opens doors that are gonna be very hard for us to shut back.
Thank you all for making it all the way through this episode of The Breakdown!
If you haven’t already subscribed to our podcast, we’ll be right back here every single weekday, breaking down important news stories and issues, and we’d love for you to subscribe on your favorite podcast apps like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Please share this podcast with your friends and family. Our next goal is to get to 100,000 subscribers, and we won’t get there without you! Have you left a review yet? On Apple Podcasts we now have over 9,650 5-star reviews, but we’re aiming for 10,000 — so we still want to hear from you so please leave your best review when you get time.
Thank you so much to the nearly 30,000 founding members of The North Star whose generosity even makes this podcast possible. Love y’all and appreciate you so much.
If you love this podcast and want to support our work — or want to see the show notes and transcript for each episode — we’d love it if you considered becoming a founding member of our community at TheNorthStar.com. There we not only have our podcasts, but hundreds of original articles and stories and commentaries from some of the leading scholars and thinkers and journalists in the world.
Lastly, a shout out to our Associate Producer Lyssandra and Podcasting Director and Senior Producer Willis for their hard work on this and every episode.
Take care everybody.
Produced by Willis Polk II
Additional Instrumentation by Christian “Idrys” Shannon, Lance “Lance Fury” Powlis, Markeith Black & Smok Tagous
Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library
Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush & Jason Coffey
Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg