These days some of the most-watched products of our high-tech popular culture are those grainy cell phone videos that go “viral” on the internet. Lately they’ve been making reality show stars of such women as “#BBQ Betty,” “#GolfcartGail,” “#CondoCathy,” “#ApartmentPatty,” and “#CornerstoneCaroline,” and we’re intrigued by the trend.
In case you haven’t been keeping up with latest internet epidemics, all of them are about panicky white women who were caught on those damnably ubiquitous cell phone cameras dialing 911 to report behavior by black people who turned out to be doing nothing at all suspicious. “#BBQBetty” was alarmed by a couple of black men at a nearby open-to-the-public grill in their local park, but when the police arrived they found the men merely charcoal-grilling some meat. “#GolfcartGail” called the cops because she spotted a black man shouting at a child during a youth sporting event she passed happened to pass by on her daily golf cart ride, but it turned out it he was a father doing his fatherly duty by trying to tell his far-away son to accept the referees’ rulings. “#ApartmentPatty” and “#CondoCathy” both called the cops on a couple of black guys who were using their keys to enter their legal residences. “#CornerstoreCaroline” called the cops on a 9-year-old black boy for groping her buttocks in a corner store, and the next day she was greeted by a large group of cell phone-wielding black people who videotaped and gleefully downloaded on to the internet her embarrassed reaction to some security camera footage that clearly showed the schoolboy had merely brushed her behind with his textbook-laden backpack as he made his way through the crowded store.
There’s also “#PermitPatty,” who reported an 8-year-old black girl selling bottled water, and “#NewportNancy,” who reported a black woman smoking a cigarette in a parking garage, and no doubt many other panicky white women whose similarly embarrassing 911 calls have somehow gone unreported even in this age of ubiquitous cell phone cameras. Most of the black folks we know are cool, and they assure us that most the white folks they know are cool, and almost all of our daily interactions with all sorts of people are mostly pleasant enough, but people being people we’re sure there are lot of panicky white people of both sexes out there who deserve some fleeting public shaming
As old-fashioned conservatives who were politically incorrect long before it was faddish, we’ll once again acknowledge that far too many 911 calls regarding black suspects prove all too well-founded, and that people being people pretty much every category of people has some serious explaining to do. Still, we urge our fellow white folk to be cool, and to hold out hope that most of the rest of the country continues to do the same.
— Bud Norman