You may be interested to learn that despite hundreds of years of history in the Southern U.S., it is not racist to address a grown black man as "boy." No, really! Observe the judicial saga John Hithon has endured.

Adam Liptak runs down the history of this glorious instance of diversity-upholding:

  • Hithon, a black worker at a Tyson Chicken plant in Alabama, sued after being repeatedly passed over for promotions by a white manager in favor of white candidates. In his suit, he noted that the manager called black employees "boy," as in "Boy, you better get going."
  • 2002: an Alabama jury awards Hithon $1 million.
  • 2005: the US Court of Appeals orders a retrial. MONEY QUOTE: "The use of ‘boy' when modified by a racial classification like ‘black' or ‘white' is evidence of discriminatory intent, [BUT] the use of ‘boy' alone is not evidence of discrimination."
  • The Supreme Court reverses that appeals court's decision.
  • 2007: Hithon's case is retried. He gets awarded over $1 million.
  • 2010: back to the appeals court in Atlanta. What say you, arbiters of justice?
  • "The usages were conversational," the majority explained, repeating what it had told the trial court after the Supreme Court ruled, and "nonracial in context." Even if "somehow construed as racial," the unsigned 2-to-1 decision went on, "the comments were ambiguous stray remarks" that were not proof of employment discrimination.

And that's how Postracial America was achieved.

[NYT. Pic via]