Friday, October 21, 2005

RACIAL, OR RACIST?

Fact: Police have been called to Traffic 68 times this year.

Fact: Police have been called to Jordan Creek 100 times this year.

Fact: More African-Americans party at Traffic than at Jordan Creek.

From those three facts, however, you cannot infer that city officials are being racist by cracking down harder on Traffic than on Jordan Creek. In this case, one thing does not lead to another.

But there's no way to deny a racial aspect to the melee a week ago outside Traffic in downtown Springfield. You can't ignore the obvious.

Racial. Not racist. And there is a big difference, all political correctness aside.

The mostly white police officers outside Traffic last weekend were in a sea of partygoers, many of them black. Most people in both groups were facing an unfamiliar situation. Racial differences existed. But unless some white cop was arresting people because they were black, it ain't racism.

The manager of Traffic plans to "pretty much eliminate rap" from the club's playlists; he says violent lyricism in hardcore hip-hop could incite real-life violence on the streets of downtown Springfield.

It is a fact that hip-hop's biggest stars often live violent (and short) lives. Several are caught up in rivalries that lead to shootings outside radio stations and the occasional homicide. The boys from rock band System Of A Down aren't trading gunfire with the members of Coldplay (though if they did, Coldplay would lose in a few seconds and we would no longer be subjected to that whiny crap passing as music).

Noting that difference isn't racism. But because most hip-hop stars (especially the slain ones) are black, it is racial. (Eminem, however, has been inside his share of courtrooms for pulling weapons and attempting to beat some ass, and he's as white as Elvis Presley.)

Is the Traffic flap all about race? Of course not.

City officials slammed into the club, citing the club's management for an out-of-compliance awning (!) and threatening to help yank its liquor license. They have not used the same zeal to force Jordan Creek to clean up its act -- but Jordan Creek hasn't had an open-air bottle toss on the street outside the club, with cops as targets.

An earlier post about Traffic drew comments that suggested racism on our part, because we noted that Jordan Creek caters to frat boys. A News-Leader sound-off board has a similar race conversation going.

Discussing race isn't racism, a disease with plenty of carriers in Springfield. The city and the region need to discuss race, and we hope the Traffic melee will hasten such a discussion, because Springfield has needed it for, oh, about 99 years.

1 comment:

Thom said...

Well said sir, and thank you for saying it.
I believe I was a bit harsh in my comments that were posted earlier. I have had several bad experiences with Traffic and I think the attitude that the club was pushing was wrong, however closing the club will not resolve the issue; I should have been a bit more chill.
We do need a better relationship with the police downtown, and we need to talk about how closing time is managed downtown (I love the after hours food idea), we need human solutions that manage the way people actually behave and not the idea of a perfect citizenry.
And I need to drink less coffee...