Racist Racism

Racist Racism

A Story by R J Fuller

Who decides what is offensive? Who decides what is seen is offensive?

"Excuse me, ah, . . . . Ludwig? Dingo Ludwig?" 

What kind of name was Dingo Ludwig? The person sitting behind the desk had tattoos running up the visible arm, facial piercings, and obviously makeup that utterly failed at concealing any aspect of age. 
A headset was wrapped around the cranium. 

"Excuse me, Karay, Sauri Brent has just entered my office. Yes, he's mad about the review I gave him, I'm sure."

"I'm not mad," Sauri said. Ludwig gave him a brush-off. 

"No, I won't be needing the police, but thank you for offering to contact them. Let me tend to him and send him on his way." With that, Ludwig hung up the phone. 

"Was that supposed to intimidate me, Mr. Ludwig?"

"I don't use society's designated prefixes. Just call me Dingo." 

Sauri started at the figure for a moment in all its attire. 

"Ludwig, ah, . . .Dingo, I'm not mad." 

"You're here about the review I gave you?" Dingo said, rather nasally. 

"Yes, I am." 

"You didn't like it that I pointed out it was a hateful racist image offensive to people." 

"What people?" 

Dingo swiveled in the chair to look at a monitor. 

"People of color, Mr. Brent. You know that." 

Sauri stepped closer to the desk. 

"Dingo, what am I?" 

Dingo looked at Sauri from under heavily painted eyelids. 

"I'm afraid I haven't gotten to know you that well yet," Dingo said, straining at being witty. 

Sauri didn't pay attention to it. 

"You have to know me to know what I am? You can't just look at me?" 

Dingo observed the screen on the i-phone a bit as he spoke, literally slurring his words. 

"I have no way of knowing what you are, Mr. Brent?" 

Sauri looked at Dingo utterly perplexed. Dingo looked back expressionless as tho Sauri had lost at this war of words. 

"I am a black man," he said looking Dingo directly in the eye. 

"I am a man of color. I am an African-American." 

Dingo leaned forward and placed the blubbery chin upon the manicured hand. 

"Well, you must be letting me know this for a reason," Dingo replied, still striving to be clever. 

Sauri stepped back. 

"I am not someone who deliberately sets out to make harmful depictions of black people, as you alluded in your column." 

"Mr. Brent," Dingo began, "I calls them as I sees them. You ran and danced and laughed like a happy little pet for all those white kids in that movie. Otherwise it might have been fairly decent, but I couldn't overlook the blatant racist depiction you gave." 

Sauri stared at Dingo, who once more looked at the i-phone. With one mighty sweep, Sauri slapped the phone from Dingo's palm, sending it flying across the room. Dingo rolled the blubber on the neck to gaze into the eyes of Sauri. 

"How dare you?" Dingo said, mockingly bewildered. The palm that was struck found comforting solace and a massage from the other hand, then the fingernail with bright blue nail polish reached for the intercom to contact the secretary. Sauri slapped his hand down between Dingo's nails and that device as well. 

Dingo looked at Sauri like he was a vicious monster. 

"I worked hard to keep up with all those other dancers, regardless of if they were black or white, to keep up with them," Sauri said, staring at Dingo. "It was based on the Broadway musical. I was thrilled to get the part of Zo, not Zoo, Zo!"

Dingo looked at Sauri. 

"You belonged in a zoo, hopping and swinging about like that." 

"You had no problem with all the white people doing the same? Or the Asian guy?" 

"He was cute in those tight pants, wasn't he?" 

Sauri slammed his hand down on the desk top even closer to Dingo. Dingo was truly startled. 

"I was there to perform, Ludwig. I was not there to flirt, and neither was Don. We were performing."

"Tajiva!" Dingo called out to the receptionist. "Help, Tajiva!" 

No one came. 

"I guess she can't hear you," Sauri said all but grimacing now. He leaned in even closer to Dingo. 

"Now here's what you're going to do, Dingo. You're going to print a retraction on how you reviewed me. You're going to say you didn't understand anything about why I or Don was there, which was to show inclusion." 

Dingo wasn't one to quit. 

"You two would've made a cute coup, . . . "

"I'm not interested in your little assumptions, Dingo! But you will write about me in a better light than what you did."

Sauri snorted as he leaned back. As he did so, he could tell Dingo was building up the comeback. 

"I'm not writing any retraction," Dingo said. "You were disgraceful the way you behaved, like some cotton-picking slave from the 1970s." Dingo choked back the words as if crying was possible, but it seemed to be more about producing tears in the first place.

"And I won't condone such a portrayal," Dingo continued, "and anyone affiliated with that film should be ashamed of themselves. You shouldn't have allowed yourself to be persuaded into conducting yourself like that." 

Sauri gazed unblinking at Dingo. 

"Is that what you think?" Sauri began. "You think some white producer or agent had to finagle me into performing with all that enthusiasm?"

"Well, I hope they weren't black," Dingo said dryly. 

"What do you know of what the black person thinks, Dingo?" Sauri asked him. 

"I know they've been oppressed by hatred and bigotry in this country for a long time."

"They, Dingo? They?" 

"And black people is offensive. You should know the preference is African-American." 

"Preferred by who, Dingo?" 

Dingo slid the chair as if to give attention to another matter. 

"I really don't have time, . . . "

Sauri spun the chair back to face him. 

"Oh, you do have the time, Dingo. I'm not going anywhere until you agree to print a retraction."

"I'll never do it!"

"A retraction about black people you know nothing about!" 

"African Americans!" Dingo wheezed. 

"That you know nothing about, Dingo! You know nothing about black people's oppression."

"Why do you keep cowering to the boss man by not saying the preferred term, African American?"

"Because I am speaking to you as a black man, Dingo! A black performer! A black entertainer!" 

"I guess you are still oppressed in some ways, aren't you, Sauri?" Dingo said. "Is this how they treated you on the movie when you were filming it?" 

Sauri continued to keep Dingo in the chair. 

"There was no judgment of skin color in that movie, Dingo. There was no aspersions of skin color from the cast, the crew, the higher-ups. The only one who saw harmful depictions was yourself. The only one who saw bigotry was yourself." 

Dingo looked at Sauri. 

"You think I don't know what it feels like to be treated cruelly?" Dingo started with Sauri. "I get called names and harassed when I go out at night." 

"I haven't called you any names!" Sauri said. "I haven't said anything about your makeup or hair coloring or all this other costuming you can remove as you please. My stereotyping can't be removed. Only who I am on the inside can change how I am seen, and my dream has always been to be a singer and dancer in the movies and on tv, and that's what I'm going to do and you aren't going to stop me, Ludwig. I will represent my race and people who look like me no matter what you say or think."  

"I haven't said anything about your race," Dingo whined. 

Sauri looked at the obese figure slumped in the chair and stepped back. 

"Dingo!" Sauri bellowed, "what do you think 'like he was jumping at a whip' was? Smiling like he had pleased his master! 'With a face that was reminscent of the tar baby' " 

"Well, you are! Look at you!" Dingo said. 

"This is my face, Dingo! This is who I am and always will be!" 

"It's a harmful depiction. Hearkens back to the ugly days of blackface in the '70s." 

Sauri looked at the figure with no clear idea what to say next. He stepped back and walked around the desk. 

"You don't like my skin being so dark?" he said. "You think it needs to be lighter?" 

"The imagery should be beautiful to see, not reminding people of bygone days of slavery and working in the fields," Dingo replied. 

Sauri looked at the odd person with no idea of who he spoke to. 

"You think my skin being so black reminds people of slave days?" 

Dingo stood from the chair and likewise walked around the desk. 

"Sauri," Dingo began, "we can't have racist images of blackface being so freely tossed around today like there's nothing wrong with it. It promotes white supremacy." 

Sauri stared at the man, then turned and walked toward the door. 

"I'm sorry if what I said hurt your feelings, Sauri, but you have to face the truth sometime." 

Sauri said nothing more, but left the office. He looked at the receptionist who had an air as if Sauri had just been hit with an ugly realization. Actually he had, but he also comprehended this was not the place for such a confrontation. It would be a total waste of time. 

Once Sauri got to the elevator, he pulled out his phone and listened to the recording. 

" . . . . my face, Dingo! This is who I am and always will be! It's a harmful depiction. Hearkens back to the ugly days of blackface in the '70s. You don't like my skin being so dark?" 

With that, Sauri stopped listening. He dialed a number, and waited for the rings to stop. 

"Yea. I just saw Dingo. No, there won't be a retraction. Dingo said my black skin is racist and brings up ideas of blackface. Uh-huh. Yea. Oh, but I did. Yea, I did. I managed to hit record on my phone and recorded all the words spoken. My face brings forth the memories of slave days. Yea. Allright. That's good. Yea. Hey, listen, none of this is going to hinder the jobs I'm already lined up for, because I'd hate to lose them. I know the movie has been a success in spite of Dingo's commentary and I didn't want the directors or Don or anybody else to feel they had to do any confronting. I was the one being slandered. My appearance was racist. Yea, just let the lawyers know I got him recorded, what all he said. Okay. Okay. Allright. Later, man. Thanks." 

Sauri hung up the phone and stared at his reflection in the mirrored wall of the elevator. He looked at the black skin that manifested racism. He leaned against the wall behind him. The door opened and he casually stepped out into the lobby. He wanted out of this building. He just wanted some air. 

© 2021 R J Fuller

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Added on July 30, 2021
Last Updated on July 30, 2021
Tags: racism, stereotypes, offensive, blackface, depictions, interpretations